Themes in American Novels
Happiness in “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury Essay
Updated: Jul 12th, 2021
The reason why people live, work, learn, and form relationships all relate to reaching an ideal of happiness, which derives from each person’s understanding of what brings them joy. Standardizing it may lead to creating a false sense of peace, as said by Captain Beatty, a structure within which people are not “born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal” (Bradbury, 2013, p. 55). Thus, the recognition of true happiness, stemming from intellectual labor, as something that misbalances society could be the main idea of Ray Bradbury’s story.
As a three-chapter novel, Fahrenheit 451 may be reflective of a traditional three-act structure consisting of setup, confrontation, and resolution. In the first chapter Guy Montag, the protagonist finds himself in a position that allows him to recognize the lack of genuine happiness in his life, viewing those around him as uncompassionate and disinterested shades (Bradbury, 2013). After revealing that this process, characterized by illegal book-hoarding, has been long ongoing, the second chapter shows Montag as attempting to defend his rightness, sealing those around him as “monsters talking about monsters” (Bradbury, 2013, p. 94). Circumstances finally force Montag, who failed to convince anyone around him of his ideas’ soundness, to both destroy and escape from his home, looking for contentment through finding like-minded individuals (Bradbury, 2013). The main themes, such as self-censorship, government surveillance, and oversaturation with media, tie together with the conception of uniformity in all aspects of life as being inherently damaging.
True happiness’ value, thus, may be inferred as stemming from dissimilarity and the hardship of its acquirement. Bradbury supports this opinion through the speech of the antagonist, Captain Beatty, who outlines explorers and thinkers as faced with a “bestial and lonely” feeling, backing the idea of joy as being mass-produced instead (2013, p. 58). This wider-world standoff of intellectuals versus consumers is a potentially continuous process occurring even today, which Bradbury merely codified and exaggerated in the form of dystopian fiction. Thus, the author attempts to outline a broader concept that happiness does not stem from preoccupying oneself with thoughtless media or experiencing life through a screen, which may be television or a preoccupation with work.
The role of society in accruing genuine joy is dual, with the depicted culture repressing and replacing it, while Bradbury himself attempts to convince the reader instead that civilization must stimulate and challenge itself. Clarrise McClellan, the catalyst of Montag’s soul-searching journey, states that the instilled business of society eliminated the “wrong kind of social life,” characterized by rocking chairs, gardens, and exchange of ideas (Bradbury, 2013, p. 60). Effectively, the eradication of such a life prompted humankind’s overawing through mass media, making new principles, such as complacency, evenness, and extreme sensitivity to the correctness, the redesigned happiness of Fahrenheit 451’s society.
By creating a dichotomy, Bradbury pits the proposed ideas against each other, with Guy Montag and the other intellectuals versus Mildred Montag and Captain Beatty, as well as the rest of the unthinking world. The author outlines things that bring happiness as coincidentally ushering in conflict, from non-exact sciences to questions, for example, why (Bradbury, 2013). On the other hand, there are hollow things, such as parlor screens, comic books, and pornography, which do not stimulate thought, but instead aim to placate the average citizen and do not cause positive feelings (Bradbury, 2013). Therefore, diversity, strife, and conflicting ideas bring happiness, which possibly the closing scene of Montag in rough yet thought-stimulating conditions supports.
The dystopian society of Fahrenheit 451 is Bradbury’s warning of a worse world, defined by hollow interactions and life so fast that there is little time to think about it. Happiness is the opposite of consumerism is a concept that could be a reflection of the modern world, where society perceives intellectualism as a subpar character trait, causing unnecessary conflict among people and their ideas. Therefore, Bradbury urges us to recognize the joy that humankind may uplift from individuals’ dissimilarities and the progress gained from intellectual exchange as the root and pathway to a happy and idyllic civilization.
Bradbury, R. (2013). Fahrenheit 451. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
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Parenting in “Hey, Kiddo” by Jarrett J. Krosoczka Research Paper
Updated: Jul 11th, 2021
The family is a whole world in which the child lives, acts, discovers, learns to hate, love, rejoice, and sympathize. As a member, the child enters into a certain relationship with parents, which can have negative and positive effects on him/her. The result is that the child grows either friendly, open, sociable, or anxious, rude, hypocritical, deceitful. The writing Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a crucial and relevant illustration of how family disturbance and lack of support affect the child. For example, the main character of the book says, “I stopped counting on her a long time ago” (7). He mentions that phrase regarding his mother, who is an addict. It is often underestimated that proper parenting is highly important in order to give children both good mental and physical health. The given literary analysis will focus on the influence of parenting and family on kids.
Children growing up in an atmosphere of love and understanding have fewer health problems, difficulties in studying at school, communicating with their peers, and vice versa; as a rule, violation of parent-child relationships leads to the formation of various psychological problems and complexes. In the book, Hey, Kiddo, the main character says, “I don’t like asking her for anything” (7). The young boy shows a great deal of hate and anger towards his mother, which should not be occurring in the family. The most universal, the most difficult, and the noblest work, one for all and at the same time unique in every family, is the creation of a human. A distinctive feature of this work is that a person finds incomparable happiness in it. Continuing the human race, the father and mother repeat themselves in the child, and the moral responsibility for the person and his/her future depends on how conscious this repetition is (Arnold et al. 859). Every moment of that work, which is called education, is the creation and look into the future.
Raising children is similar to giving away special and spiritual forces as soon as a person cries out to the world about his/her birth, actions, and behavior. Children, having begun their lives as completely helpless creatures, receive so much from their parents that the latter naturally engender in their feelings of gratitude, love, and a kind of pride in their father and mother (Martinez and McDonald 6). Not only help and care of parents but also participation and caress of them play a role in this. Children who are orphaned early or for some reason lost their father or mother, often later, in their mature years, feel bitterness, anguish from the lack in their memories of parental caress, family joys, untested kid’s feelings.
On the contrary, those who have experienced happiness, which is given by any good family life, recall that they, as children, considered their mother beautiful, unusually kind, and their father clever and skillful. Although at the time when they remember it, they can already say that in reality, the mother was not at all the most beautiful, and the father was no more than a normal person. This illusion of childhood indicates the need of this age, which is manifested early on, in those who are more precious to them at that time, all sorts of qualities that their imagination can draw to them (Martinez and McDonald 2). They always love those who show affection and respect for their parents. Therefore, when parents have great virtues and children have to see expressions of gratitude or respect for their parents.
Family is a social institution that affects a child’s personality formation, which possesses important functions. It is the family with its constant and natural character of influence that is intended to shape the character traits, beliefs, attitudes, and worldview of the child. For example, in Hey, Kiddo, the main character undergoes severe difficulties, which have a profound influence on his outlook (Krosoczka 7). Therefore, the allocation of the family’s educational function as the main one has a social significance. For each person, the family performs emotional and recreational purposes that protect a person from stressful and extreme situations. The comfort and warmth of the home, the realization of a person’s need for trusting and emotional communication, sympathy, empathy, and support are equally critical factors determining the child’s development (Arnold et al. 871). All these factors allow a person to be more resistant to the conditions of modern and stressful life. The essence and content of the economic function are to manage not only the common economy but also the financial support of children and other family members throughout their difficulties.
During the period of socio-economic transformations in society, family functions are changing. The economic feature of the family leading in the historical past, subordinating all the rest to itself: the head of the family — the man — was the organizer of the common work, the children were involved in the life of adults from an early age. The economic function entirely determined educational and reproductive responsibilities. Currently, the economic role of the family is not diminished, but it has changed.
There are some key problems surrounding the typical modern family, which affects a child’s development. Sociologists say that male and female roles are now symmetrical, which means that society is changing ideas about how husband and wife should behave (Arnold et al. 864). Sociologists note the fact that the family is particularly sensitive to any reformist changes on a national scale, such as unemployment and price increases (Arnold et al. 867). Increasingly, it is said that new atypical educational problems arise as a result of various material and psychological difficulties experienced by the family. Unconfident parents are no longer an authority and role model for their children. The authority of the mother varies depending on the scope of its activities. Adolescents sometimes perform undervalued, unqualified work, but they are profitable in monetary terms, and their earnings may approach or even exceed the income of parents. Children have a shift in the system of life values. This trend not only reduces the educational capabilities of the family but also leads to a decrease in the intellectual potential of society.
As a result, negative consequences of divorces are observed: deterioration in the upbringing of children, an increase in the incidence of their mental illnesses, alcoholism of parents, destruction of blood ties, deterioration of their financial situation, disharmony in the reproduction of the population. When contacts with parents are disrupted, children experience the most acute experiences, since, for a child, the breakup of a family is a breakdown of a stable family structure, familiar relations with parents, a conflict between attachment to father and mother (Martinez and McDonald 9). Divorce poses challenges to the child beyond its age: orientation in the new role structure without its former certainty, adoption of new relationships with divorced parents. At the age of three, children react to the disintegration of the family with crying, aggressiveness, impaired memory, attention, and sleep disorders. Divorce gives the child a feeling of loneliness, a sense of inferiority (Arnold et al. 869). Parents’ divorce automatically translates the family into the category of “atypical,” that is, incomplete, low-income problem.
The real scenarios of atypical families are similar. If a child is born with serious developmental disorders or illnesses, the mother stops working and devotes herself entirely to him. Expensive medicines, visits to the doctor, specific equipment, clothing, food – all these costs a lot of money, especially if there are other children, and the whole family exists for the income of the father. In single-parent families, after a divorce or the death of a spouse, the remaining one is forced to drag the whole house onto itself, lift its child, and replace both parents with it. In large families, one of the parents also donates his/her work for the sake of the children.
The “atypical” families in the current economic situation are, in fact, “crowned” with poverty. It is natural that full families live better than incomplete, medium-sized ones are better than large families; healthy ones are better than families with disabled children. Material security remains one of the causes of family tension over the years. During the reform years, the welfare curve for households with children is falling lower and closer to the poverty mark (Martinez and McDonald 3). At the same time, the smaller the children themselves and the greater their number in the family, the higher the probability of household poverty.
The financial difficulties, however acute, are not limited to the crisis of the modern family. There are several symptoms of the “disease” of today’s modern family: the neuroticism of children, loneliness, inability to communicate, disunity. The worst thing, according to psychologists, is the lack of understanding between children, parents, and old people. Internal collisions have a substantial impact on the family, sometimes pushing it towards disintegration. After all, apart from the need to overpower the “external circumstances,” to put up with the fact that your family is “atypical,” apart from the refusal of parents and children from many pleasures, such a family is affected by a number of other factors, many of which can be sources of stress situations.
Family education and relationship formation are key factors that directly influence a person. Parents cannot love a child for something, despite the fact that he/she is ugly, not smart, neighbors complain about him/her. Thus, the child is accepted as he/she is because they receive unconditional love. Perhaps parents love him/her when the child meets their expectations when studying well and behaves. However, if the child does not satisfy those needs, then the child is rejected, the attitude changes for the worse (Martinez and McDonald 8). This brings considerable difficulties; the child is not sure of his/her parents; he/she does not feel the emotional security that must be from the very infancy.
Nevertheless, there some instances of children not receiving unconditional love; thus, they get conditioned. A child may not be accepted at all by parents. He/she is indifferent to them and may even be rejected by them, for example, the family of alcoholics. However, in a prosperous family, for instance, he/she is not welcome; there were serious problems, and parents do not necessarily realize this. Each family objectively develops a certain, far from always realized, system of education (Martinez and McDonald 7). Four tactics of upbringing in the family can be distinguished, which are both the prerequisite and the result of their occurrence: dictatorship, guardianship, non-interference, and cooperation. However, those who prefer order and violence to all forms of pressure encounter resistance from a child who responds to pressure, coercion, threats with his/her countermeasures: hypocrisy, deception, outbursts of rudeness, and sometimes outright hatred (Arnold et al. 858-879). However, even if the resistance turns out to be broken, many valuable personality traits are broken along with it: self-esteem, initiative, self-confidence, and self-reliance.
Reckless authoritarianism of parents, ignoring the interests and opinions of the child, systematically depriving him of his/her right to vote in matters relating to him are all a guarantee of serious failures, the formation of his/her personality. Parents block the process of serious preparation of their children for a collision with reality beyond the threshold of their own home. It is these children who are less adapted to life in a team. This category of adolescents gives the most significant number of disruptions in a transitional age. Just these children, for whom it would seem there is nothing to complain about, begin to rebel against excessive parental care. If dictatorship involves violence, an order, robust authoritarianism, then guardianship is the care and protection from difficulties. However, the result largely coincides: children have no autonomy, initiative, they are somehow excluded from resolving issues that concern them personally, and even more so the general problems of the family.
The system of interpersonal relations in the family, based on the recognition of the possibility and even the suitability of the independent existence of adults from children, can be generated by the tactic of non-interference. In this case, it is assumed that two worlds can coexist: adults and children, and neither one nor the other should cross the line thus planned. Most often, this type of relationship is based on the passivity of parents as educators (Martinez and McDonald 2). Cooperation as a type of family relationship implies mediation of interpersonal relationships in the family by common goals and objectives of the joint activity, its organization, and high moral values. It is in this situation that the child’s selfish individualism is overcome (Arnold et al. 867). The family, where the leading type of relationship is cooperation, acquires a special quality, becomes a group of the high level of development is a team.
In conclusion, in order to maximize the positive and minimize the negative impact of the family on the upbringing of the child, one should remember the intrafamily psychological factors that have educational significance. It is important to take an active part in the life of the family and always find time to talk with the child. Moreover, parents should be interested in the problems of the child, delve into all the difficulties arising in his life and help develop his skills and talents. Furthermore, adults should not exert any pressure on the child, thereby helping him to make decisions independently and have an idea of the different stages in a child’s life. It is crucial to respect the child’s right to an opinion and be able to restrain possessive instincts and treat a child as an equal partner who, for the time being, has less life experience. The parent should respect the desire of all other family members to pursue a career and improve themselves.
Arnold, Amy L., et al. “How Family Structures and Processes Interrelate: The Case of Adolescent Mental Health and Academic Success in Military Families.” Journal of Family Issues, vol. 38, no. 6, 2015, pp. 858-879.
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Hey, Kiddo. Scholastic, 2018.
Martinez, Katherine, and Courtney McDonald. “Childhood Familial Victimization: An Exploration of Gender and Sexual Identity Using the Scale of Negative Family Interactions.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 1, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-9.
This research paper on Parenting in “Hey, Kiddo” by Jarrett J. Krosoczka was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Home in King’s “Borders” and Welty’s “Why I Live at the P.O.” Essay
Updated: Jul 8th, 2021
There are numerous short stories that deal with the concept of home and how it applies in unfamiliar environments. The two stories compared in this analysis, “Borders” by Thomas King and “Why I Live at the P.O.” by Eudora Welty, look at such situations from different perspectives. The former deals with how life in a different location with a new culture can change people and communities within the span of a generation. The latter is about a girl and her conflict with her family, which eventually leads her to leave her home and start living at the post office. This essay compares the perspectives of the two stories on home and its relationship with the person.
Home as the Community
“Borders” takes a bold stance on the issue of the community and one’s allegiance to it. Laetitia’s mother views the Blackfoot society, divided between the United States and Canada, as a group that takes priority over everything else (King). She refuses to consider herself or her daughter a citizen of either country and declares her nationality as that of her clan, leading to issues with the border guards. The misunderstanding is only resolved once reporters and officials become involved, and until then, the mother and daughter are trapped between the borders of two nations. Afterward, however, the guards do not challenge the two due to the publicity and the attention of the authorities that the case attracted.
Unlike the example above, the heroine of “Why I Live at the P.O.” does not show much loyalty to her household or her general community. She values outside news that can be acquired through radio or mail, a trait that leads to her eventual departure to the post office, where she would be closer to things she enjoys. Her relationship with her family degrades throughout the story, and at the end, her mother, father, and Stella-Rondo declare that they will not use mail, even though some of them rely on it (Welty <“Wah!” says Stella-Rondo. I knew she’d cry. She had a conniption fit right there in the kitchen.>). There are various reasons for the poor opinion the different characters have toward the heroine, which may be skewed by her perspective, but ultimately, she chooses to abandon her home.
Laetitia has also chosen to leave her home, but possibly in different circumstances. Her initial decision was not supported by her mother, but eventually, the family grew to forgive her and show pride in the daughter’s ability to sustain herself in an unfamiliar environment alone (King ). The choice was informed by less superficial reasons than those of Welty’s protagonist and showed better planning. She maintains her connection with her family, and at the end, she says she is considering moving back to the reserve (King ), though the statement may have been superficial. The bond is the reason why the mother and daughter go to visit her in the story, leading to their predicament.
Home as a Place
The heroine of “Why I Live at the P.O.” abandons her home in spirit, but she does not move far from where her family lives. It takes nine trips by wagon to move her belongings, and the family did not consider the endeavor a significant undertaking worth more than a nickel (Welty ). In the ending, only five days have passed since the parting of Sister and the rest. Although no attempts at contact have been made, the small distance and the short time frame make a future reconciliation followed by a move back to the family house a possibility. It is not difficult for the protagonist to change the place where she lives, as she does not possess much and has made her decision on a whim.
Laetitia’s decision was more significant and permanent, though she did not move a distance that could not be covered in a car trip. Her father is American, allowing her to travel across the border between the United States and Canada without much difficulty (King ). The environment may not be radically different from that in Canada, as her mother recalls more impressive features in Edmonton, near her home (King ). However, the inability to contact her family whenever she would like, combined with the fact that she would be entering a society where she did not know anybody, made the separation more profound. Nevertheless, she carried through with her decision and ended up succeeding and impressing her skeptical mother.
The Differences between the Stories
Ultimately, “Borders” presents the proposition that home is one’s community and that as long as one remembers his or her family, he or she will do well. Laetitia rejected some of her mother’s more conservative teachings such as her tendency to speak the Blackfoot language and declare herself a citizen of the clan. However, she retained her love of the family despite the disagreements, parted on terms of mutual respect, and sent postcards that regularly invited her mother and sister to visit (King ). The mother encounters some difficulties due to her beliefs and their conflict with rigid national structures but is ultimately able to defend her way by attracting the attention of the media. The Blackfoot community is able to retain its identity and traditions even as members choose to move elsewhere and embrace new cultures.
Unlike Laetitia, the Sister of “Why I Live at the P.O.” does not show loyalty to the family unit and considers home to be the place where she is most comfortable. The family does not show her any more consideration than she does them, supporting her decision to leave and offering help (Welty < “Thank you kindly for the cot and ‘peace’ is hardly the word I would select if I had to resort to firecrackers at 6:30 A.M. in a young girl’s bedroom,” I say back to him.>). The heroine does not have to go far to leave her home, as it does not encompass the overall community, and the post office satisfies her as the choice of a location. Unlike the Blackfoot people of King’s story, Sister is self-contained, and home is wherever she chooses to live, with the corresponding potential for change. In the future, she may decide to return to her family’s house. However, she may also maintain her grudge and stay at the P.O. to spite her family or leave the place altogether should the community unite against her.
The two stories offer considerably different perspectives on what home might mean to a person. Laetitia chooses to move to Salt Lake City but retains her bond with her family. Her mother views the Blackfoot community as her home, regardless of the actual greater nationality of the members. Sister goes to the other extreme, disregarding everyone but herself and centering the idea of a household around her comfort. Each approach is valid in its way and offers valuable insight into the character.
King, Thomas. “Borders.” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction, 5th ed., edited by Raymond E. Jones and Jon C. Stott, Nelson Education Limited, 2011, pp.
Welty, Eudora. “Why I Live at the P.O.” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction, 5th ed., edited by Raymond E. Jones and Jon C. Stott, Nelson Education Limited, 2011, pp.
This essay on Home in King’s “Borders” and Welty’s “Why I Live at the P.O.” was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Sethe’s Slavery in “Beloved” by Toni Morrison Essay
Updated: Jun 27th, 2021
Beloved is the novel by Toni Morrison that is discussed as representing the genres of gothic fiction and magical realism, and the purpose of this novel is to demonstrate how slavery can be viewed as a process of dehumanization, whose lasting effects in the form of psychological traumas are observed during a long period of time, as it is in the case of Sethe. In spite of the fact that the events depicted in Beloved take place after the end of the American Civil War, Sethe, as the main character of the novel and a former slave, continues to survive the outcomes of slavery every day of her life. Sethe was dehumanized while being a slave, and she experienced the most critical effect of slavery when she had to choose the death of her children as an act of love and humanity instead of letting them become slaves.
In Beloved, slavery is depicted as the route for dehumanization because of such aspects as ownership, control over slaves, physical imprisonment, humiliation, tortures, and whipping. In the novel, Sethe and other slaves living at Sweet Home plantation become dehumanized because of the actions of the Schoolteacher, who is presented by Morrison (1987) as a cruel slaver and as the embodiment of white supremacy. Thus, the Schoolteacher complained that slaves “ate too much, rested too much, talked too much, which was certainly true compared to him, because schoolteacher ate little, spoke less and rested not at all” (Morrison, 1987, p. 220). This person’s violence made Sethe runoff, but moreover, Schoolteacher’s actions made the woman lose her sense of humanity when she became the victim of mammary rape. While talking with Paul D about that dramatic event, Sethe could only focus on the fact that Schoolteacher’s boys took her milk that belonged to her children: “They used cowhide on you?” “And they took my milk.” “They beat you and you was pregnant?” “And they took my milk!” (Morrison, 1987, p. 17). This situation was the moment when Sethe was most significantly affected by her status as a slave.
However, Sethe’s sense of dehumanization is influenced not only by her experiences while being a slave but also by her fear of losing the freedom for her children after she escaped Sweet Home plantation and thought she was safe in Cincinnati. When Sethe faced the threat for her children to be taken by Schoolteacher, she decided to kill them in a shed. Her two-year-old daughter died, and two boys survived. Explaining her act and referring to Beloved in her house as the ghost of her daughter, Sethe says, “How if I hadn’t killed her she would have died and that is something I could not bear to happen to her. When I explain it she’ll understand, because she understands everything already” (Morrison, 1987, p. 200). Thus, despite the fact that it is possible to discuss Sethe’s act as the representation of her dehumanization, it is important to note that the woman, on the one hand, sees this situation like the loss of her humanity, but on the other hand, she discusses it as the act of freeing her child because of her hatred of slavery.
Still, while explaining her choice, Sethe refers to the situation of mammary rape one more time, accentuating that the event influenced her sense of dehumanization and led to the psychological trauma. Thus, the woman states in the novel, “Nobody will ever get my milk no more except my own children. I never had to give it to nobody else—and the one time I did it was took from me—they held me down and took it” (Morrison, 1987, p. 200). Additionally, Sethe’s decision is also the result of her vision of her own mother’s actions.
Slavery impacted Sethe and caused the development of her sense of dehumanization from many perspectives, and her own mother’s abandonment affected Sethe significantly. When she recollects the fact that she was brought up by another woman, Sethe is “angry, but not certain at what” (Morrison, 1987, p. 62). Moreover, Sethe makes a choice, and she states, “No more running—from nothing. I will never run from another thing on this earth. I took one journey and I paid for the ticket” (Morrison, 1987, p. 15). Developing her story, the author tries to represent Sethe’s choice to kill her children from the perspective of the woman’s intention not to leave her children as slaves.
In spite of the fact that dehumanization associated with slavery influenced the main female character of the book in many ways, it is also possible to focus on Sethe’s efforts to restore her sense of humanity with reference to the mother-and-daughter relationships. These relationships are the key motif and the theme of this novel. One of the most provocative tries to demonstrate humanity is Sethe’s attempt to commit a murder in relation to her children because of the woman’s motive to protect them. Sethe cannot forgive herself the situation when her milk was taken because she seems to perceive it as the violation of her connection with her children. As a result, being dehumanized by slavery, she cannot let her children become the victims of mistreatment, torture, and violence (Morrison, 1987). Sethe seems to receive one more chance to restore her sense of humanity when Beloved comes to her house, and the woman wants to explain her motives, and she tries to do everything to please Beloved as the soul of her dead daughter.
The finale of the novel demonstrates that Sethe still succeeds in restoring her sense of humanity when Beloved disappears, and the woman and her daughter Denver receive opportunities to live a new life. It is possible to assume that Denver will become a hope for Sethe, and the woman’s experience with Beloved as the ghost of her daughter can seem to relieve Sethe’s feeling of guilt. In this novel, Beloved can be discussed as the symbol for Sethe’s guiltiness and the representation of slavery with its pain and sufferings. In the last chapter of the novel, Morrison (1987) states referring to Sethe’s and her daughter’s memories regarding Beloved, “So they forgot her. Like an unpleasant dream during a troubling sleep” (p. 275). Therefore, it is possible to concentrate on Sethe’s sense of humanity only when Beloved disappears as the symbol that past memories cannot affect the life of this family anymore.
Morrison’s Beloved allows readers to focus on the problem of dehumanization of a personality associated with slavery in the most provocative and controversial manner. The novel illustrates how even the most peaceful and good feelings of people, such as the love of a mother to her children, can be reversed in the context of slavery and lead to murder. From this perspective, Morrison’s Beloved seems to pose the following question: How can the sense of dehumanization and the sense of humanity be similar or reflect each other in the context of violence and brutality associated with slavery? The possible answer can be found with reference to the analysis of Sethe’s position and feelings that seem to accentuate her nature as a mother who can forget about humanity while trying to protect her children and make them safe.
Morrison, T. (1987). Beloved. New York, NY: Vintage.
This essay on Sethe’s Slavery in “Beloved” by Toni Morrison was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Nature in Washington Irving’s “The Voyage” Research Paper
Updated: Jun 24th, 2021
The sea, as the great power of nature, has always attracted authors, who embodied various stories in their literary works. People admire the sea, and they listen to the sound of the surf as a part of nature that simultaneously frightens and attracts by its beauty, strength, and unpredictability. The sea is an element that is rather difficult for a person to obey, and only strong and courageous people can fight it. The theme of the struggle between a man and the sea as the power of nature can be traced even in the ancient literature, drawing on the example of Odysseus challenges and Poseidon, the formidable ruler of the seas. This paper aims at interpreting Washington Irving’s The Voyage based on the concept of nature and its role in the novel. Although the sea power is great and everlasting, it allows the protagonist to realize his life through the prism of stories told by the crew members and the historical context of that time, thus reflecting on the significance of his own life and the connection between America and England.
The Sea as Continual Reverie
The image of the sea in The Voyage is largely associated with the continual reverie of a person about life. The author of the novel states that “it makes us conscious of being cast loose from the secure anchorage of settled life, and sent adrift upon a doubtful world” (Irving 14). Indeed, it seems that the author reasons the role of the journey on a larger scale, yet navigation in this literary piece is the main way of traveling and its integral part. The sea invariably places all the diversity of nature near the main character and opens his eyes to the thrill of life to promote wise expediency, grandeur, and harmony. The beauty of the sea and his native land as the representations of nature remain a source of inspiration.
The author represents the marine elements of living, all-feeling thinking is through the abundance of metaphors, epithets, and personifications. For example, the author uses such words to describe the sea as “vacancy,” “monotony,” “meditation,” and “continual reverie” (Irving 16). The sea remains a mystery to this American traveling to England. Meditations lead him to think about the similarity of life on earth and the life of the sea. The sea from earthly bondage stretches toward the sky in order to obtain the desired freedom. Only there, everything seems to be transparent and eternal.
The sea in The Voyage turns out to be a pictorial symbol of human life. The traditional allegorical image of the vital sea has turned into a symbolic romantic system of the author. The secret of the sea is its constant attraction to the objects on the horizon, the inner independence from people, reflection, and fierce protest against the hostile darkness that conceals pure heavenly grace as if fear of loss. Nature here presents a variety of emotions, images, and thoughts, serving as an instrument to achieve freedom. The protagonist looks at the sea with his eyes, he is between the two abysses, but with all his heart, he becomes imbued with the state of the elements to merge with them.
A Man Against Power of Nature
The night is the time that is often mentioned in this novel that should be noted in terms of nature. At night, nature, as never before, finds its kinship with the abyss of chaos – the ancestral home of all that exists. A person stops, amazed by the majestic spectacle shaken by the consciousness that it is so close to the state of his soul. Here, one can see an internal conflict between the elements of nature and the human consciousness. Nature lives by its own laws and will, but this will do not coincide with the personal will of a man. The contradiction between “sea” and “sail” symbolizes the contradiction between life in general and the human personality thrown into the sea. In particular, the sea is natural, great, and self-willed; it can be quiet and wild yet natural. Despite cultural or historical events, it remains powerful and unconquerable to people, thus attractive by its immensity.
One of the most representative parts of the identified novel is “The Captain’s Story,” told during the voyage. In particular, the main character describes how the captain of the ship was once encountered with an uncontrollable storm that wrecked everything on the board. In this regard, the image of the sea serves as the incarnation of chaos. It seems that the very purpose of telling this story is to show the isolation of a man in life. Like the sea journey, in which a person stands alone with nature, life is perceived as one’s lonely pilgrimage through sorrows and emptiness. The following words that end the novel clearly prove the above assumptions: “I alone was solitary and idle. I had no friend to meet, no cheering to receive. I stepped upon the land of my forefathers–but felt that I was a stranger in the land” (Irving 19). A man here is alone against the power of nature. This metaphor reflects the attitude of the author towards life and the place of a person in terms of nature.
In this novel, the main hero as if reconciles with the sea. His being, the “law” of his wanderings, is quite stable since the reader notes no movement and no peace, no desire for happiness, and no refusal from it. The experience and real feelings unified in contradictions beyond the intrinsically unresolved conflict explain the nature of the loneliness of this man thrown into the sea of life. Always restless and seeking freedom and significance, a person tries to use the power of the sea as well as that of nature to understand the very life. However, he cannot, like the natural elements, remain in a single state – rest or storm. The law of his life is a rebellion, and this is the only reality that he feels. The internal irreconcilability of contradictory feelings also generates external contradictions.
Another story that is worth noting is “The Sailor’s Arrival,” in which a woman cannot recognize her husband until he calls her. This sailor is so emaciated that his appearance changed significantly, and he is almost near death. The woman wrings her hands “in silent agony,” and the story ends (Irving 19). The short yet meaningful story illustrates a full range of emotions of the wife of the dying men. Even though he changed essentially, his wife’s face expressed the deepest sorrow when she hears his voice. She could not do anything in this situation and just remained silent after a brief scream. One may suggest that the very point of writing this story is to show how the sea may change a person and affect his or her further life. In this case, the sailor was defeated by the great power of nature.
Nature and the Historical Context
The sea and ships became symbols of the economy that appeared in the 19th century that was powerful, dangerous, and too unpredictable so that it could be controlled yet exciting. It is usually believed that the romantic movement in the literature rejected the balance of the neoclassicism of the eighteenth century, considering it to be mechanical and impersonal (Beers 102). The romantics turned to the immediacy of personal experience, individual imagination, and aspirations. In this regard, it is possible to assume that the sea is a symbol of the isolation between America and England.
Even though the two mentioned countries have much in common, they are still different. It goes without saying that English settlers were the first people who lived in the United States and spread their culture and traditions there. However, in the 18th and 19th centuries, foreign policy remained the prerogative of the English royal power, and decisions were often made in secrecy by a narrow circle of people. Nevertheless, the government’s external and colonial policy was under strong public control, which, as a whole, grew during the mentioned period (Murray 207). In Britain’s foreign and colonial policies, there were such expressions as “perfidious Albion” or “to pull its own “chestnuts” out of the fire” that may be found both in the writings of historians and in modern historiography. The negative assessments of British foreign policy become clear in the context of the diplomatic struggles with America.
Reading The Voyage, it becomes evident that not only his own fate but also that of the whole country concerned the main character. The review of the related literature allows the reader to understand an isolationist trend in foreign policy, which was based on land interest and supported by many representatives of the Tory party. The isolationists argued that because of its geographical location, England could and should have avoided direct participation in foreign affairs or any of its allies (Lee 271). According to many supporters of this point of view, Britain should have been concentrated on the colonies, using its power to address challenges and achieve goals specific to them. At the same time, the interests of the American population were not taken into account as appropriate that deteriorated the gap between these countries.
In this connection, the sea acts as the dividing force that demonstrates the difference between America and England as well as their isolation from each other. Nevertheless, the sea also acts as the connecting element that has America on the one side and England on the other one. Along with isolation, it offers the opportunity of building stronger relationships and becoming closer. It is also essential to point out the fact that the sea is a symbol of the alignment of the past and present in the novel. In The Voyage, the parallels with the transformation of the economy are quite clear. The economies of the mentioned century, in which the trajectories of production, investment, and labor were generally considered to be pre-assigned and, therefore, cognizable, gave way to modern economies. In the latter, innovations constantly discover what exactly it is possible to produce, and decisions about investments reflect the imagination of entrepreneurs.
In view of the above observations, one should note that in The Voyage, the author wanted to present his thoughts regarding the changing world and the future of the two mentioned countries. Even though the future was uneven and seemed to be complicated, Irving tried to reflect the very epoch through the images of the sea as an integral part of nature. Thus, the political relationships and the economic features may be recognized in the given literary work.
To conclude, it should be emphasized that The Voyage by Irving focuses on the depiction of the sea journey from America to England of an unnamed sailor. During the novel, the reader observes several stories, each of which reflects the impact of the sea as a natural power. Through the lenses of these stories and personal views, the author speaks for the protagonist and comes to the conclusion that he is alone in life, like in the sea. Being the symbol of isolation, the sea also serves as the element connecting and dividing America and England in their attitudes to politics, economy, and social life. The nature expressed by Irving in the sea becomes a symbol of the restless search for freedom based on reflections about personal challenges and wider affairs related to the lives of other people as well as the fate of countries.
Beers, Henry A. A History of English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century. Routledge, 2015.
Irving, Washington. The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon. Oxford University Press, 1998.
Lee, Stephen J. Aspects of British Political History 1815-1914. Routledge, 2006.
Murray, Laura J. “The Aesthetic of Dispossession: Washington Irving and Ideologies of (De) Colonization in the Early Republic.” American Literary History, vol. 8, no. 2, 1996, pp. 205-231.
This research paper on Nature in Washington Irving’s “The Voyage” was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Karen Russel’s “The Bog Girl”: Going Beyond ‘Normal’ Essay (Critical Writing)
Updated: Jun 13th, 2021
The main characters in Karen Russel’s story The Bog Girl are situated on a mythical island somewhere in Northern Europe, where peat cut out of the bogs is the main source of fuel. The story’s protagonist, Cillian, discovers-and falls in love with a dead but perfectly preserved girl. This means that cultural considerations of the relationship between normal and abnormal should be studied more carefully due to implications for future analysis. Also, exploring how the author conveys the themes of pleasure and desire may shed light on important aspects of the human psyche.
What’s Normal and What’s Abnormal
The story’s protagonist, Cillian, works as a peat cutter and discovers the body of a girl who used to be around his age. Since her body is well-preserved, the boy does not feel fear or even disgust that is usually associated with seeing a dead body (Davidson). The line between the normal and abnormal reactions is blurred here, leaving readers to judge for themselves on whether Cillian exhibited acceptable behavior.
However, given the real-life accounts of finding human remains in bogs, like the 7,000-year-old Native Americans found off the Floridian Coast, one may argue that the girl could not look all that perfect (Katz). From a cultural perspective, treating the dead as if they are alive is an aspect of numerous traditions. For instance, in an Indonesian village, citizens treat the corpses of their relatives as if they are alive (Da Silva). This shows that for some people, Cillian’s decision to take the Bog Girl home with him and treat her as if she is a family member may not be as disturbing as it seems. The theme will later tie in with the exploration of pleasure and desire from the perspective of people’s values.
Pleasure and Desire
The Bog Girl is a story that has many angles despite being simple and straightforward in what the author was trying to convey. The themes of pleasure and desire come hand-in-hand, challenging readers’ perceptions. When Cillian says, “I know that I love her,” one is expected to think whether it is truly possible to love or even desire a dead person (Russel).
For the main character, desire is reflected in the idea of having someone belonging to him, sharing important life moments, and simply being close. Because of this, he treats the Bog Girl as if she can feel his presence also. The bond that Cillian created with the deceased girl was strong and brought him the pleasure of being with someone who will not judge. “Falling in love with the Bog Girl was a wonderful thing – it was permission to ignore everyone else” is a quote representing how the protagonist feels about his relationship (Russel).
Cillian was focused on getting to know his companion, imagined her personality, and could even distinguish different facial expressions. It was the desire to have a future with someone and live happily ever after. It was the pleasure of being needed and having a companion that will not judge one’s actions, argue, or subsequently disappoint.
Therefore, the difference between what is normal and abnormal is rooted in cultural perceptions and ideas, and not only in the sense of morality or ethics. The themes of pleasure and desire tie in closely with normality as they can explain what the protagonist felt. These themes are reflected in the relationship that the protagonist built with the Bog Girl. Considering these topics has encouraged a deeper exploration of the story from both cultural and personal standpoints. [588 words]
Da Silva, Chantal. “Living with the Dead: The Indonesian Village Treating Relatives’ Corpses as if They’re Alive.” The Independent. 2017. Web.
Davidson, Willing. “This Week in Fiction: Karen Russell on Balancing Humor and Horror.” The New Yorker. 2016. Web.
Katz, Brigit. “7,000-Year-Old Native American ‘Bog Burial’ Found off the Coast of Florida.” Smithsonian Magazine. 2018. Web.
Russel, Karen. “The Bog Girl.” The New Yorker. 2016. Web.
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People & Nature in “Tourist Season” by C. Hiaasen Essay
Updated: Jun 8th, 2021
Literature is one of the most powerful tools that can be used by people to attract attention to certain problems or present their thoughts and ideas. It has always been the main and the most effective way to communicate with society and discuss topical issues. That is why it has passed a long way as it has been evolving along with the world to be able to reflect the current ideas, values, and problems. Today, in many cases literature revolves around aspects people face.
These might include ethical issues, hesitations and choice, the questions about the further evolution of society, and the environment. Authors try to reconsider traditional ideas and pose questions about how people should live and act. That is why their contemporary literature acquires multiple specific features that differentiate it from works of previous epochs. For instance, the problem of the environment and people’s attitude to nature becomes a significant topic (Franklin 13). In the novel Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen, a similar question is touched upon as Florida, and its environment becomes one of the fundamental elements of the work.
The whole story rests on the idea of harm done to the natural habitat of Florida by tourists. The main characters belong to the eco-terrorist organization which pursues the goal of minimizing the negative impact of incomers via a set of cruel and threatening actions that would make tourism impossible (Hiaasen 10). However, the plot is not so simple as it might seem because of multiple problems touched upon by the author.
These might include the idea of choice, ethical issues related to the interaction with nature and ways to protect it, tourism, individual’s role in the world, and how they should behave to defend their values. Additionally, the book is notable because of the unusual character the location plays in it. Being based in Florida, the given story considers nature as one of the central characters that are given significant attention and discussed from different angles to show readers the importance of the problem and the necessity of actions.
In such a way, there are two central themes of the story which contribute to the increased level of readers’ interest and help the author to show his ideas and attitudes. First of all, it is the mystery of a man who wants to preserve the nature of Miami and area, save it from being destroyed by tourists and other people who disrespect it (Hiaasen 8). From the very first lines, Hiaasen states that “They were determined to love Florida” (7) emphasizing the unique beauty of the environment and attracting attention to the idea that this location will become one of the central characters of the story and will impact all events described in it.
This motif preconditions the appearance of another important topic which is the destruction of the natural environment. “They preserved only what was free and immutable—the sunshine and the sea—and marked the rest for destruction, because how else could you sell it?” (Hiaasen 12). This statement reflects the mood of the book and the main cause of the main characters’ actions. Interacting with each other, these two themes create a unique plot and emphasize the importance of Florida for the story.
Florida as Victim
Analyzing the book, it is possible to admit that Miami and the whole area is presented as a victim. It suffers from millions of people who come here to have a good time, enjoy the sunshine, and then leave, not caring for the preservation of its environment and unique beauty. It also suffers from tourist firms, developers, investors, and bangers, whose main goal is to “lure as many people to South Florida to spend as much money as was humanly possible in four days and three nights” (Hiaasen 27).
These patterns do not presuppose any additional care or protection to the area; on the contrary, every year new arriving people threaten its beauty, landscapes, and unique nature. That is why in the book Florida is presented as a victim suffering from multiple problems and gradually losing its natural beauty because of the ruthless exploitation with the primary aim to generate higher income by attracting thousands of tourists every year. It resulted in the critical transformation which is described as “Newark with palm trees” which emerged because of “developers, hoteliers, bankers, and lawyers who have made South Florida what it is today” (Hiaasen 35)
These problems serve as the main motif for the main characters’ actions. Trying to protect the area, a small terrorist cell Las Noches led by Skip Wiley performs a set of violent actions with the primary aim to distract people from visiting Miami and give it time to restore. Accepting the fact that new victims were “just what South Florida needed, another grisly murder,” activists start to kill people who play a significant role in popularizing the resort and making slogans such as “Florida is… Paradise Found!” or “Miami Melts in Your Mouth” to attract new people (Hiaasen 25; Hiaasen 35).
These actions can be analyzed from the perspective of Florida’s central role in the story as the area becomes the main motivator and factor contributing to the appearance of violent and aggressive moods among people who love it and care about nature.
Sense of Invasion
At the same time, there is a certain sense of invasion peculiar to the story Tourist Season. Due to the peculiarities of the plot, and the main characters’ actions and views, people who arrive every year to these lands are taken as ruthless conquerors who want to take everything they need, benefit from gifts, climate, and other elements of nature, disregarding the basic needs of Florida. They are taken as hostile elements playing a critical role in the deterioration of the environment, climate, and critical transformation of lands that used to be unique (Watkins 87).
That is why the book introduces the idea of the ‘last of South Florida’s Wilderness” as the remnant of the magnificent and fascinating wildlife that were peculiar to these lands (Hiaasen 45). However, under the pressure of invades, it had to retreat, giving place to new buildings, hotels, entertaining facilities, and other objects of infrastructure. Due to the peculiarities of discussed problems, they are taken as vanguards of enemy forces that came to the land with the primary aim to establish their dominance, rule, and will not move away.
Finally, because of the character of described events, and multiple appeals to its needs, Florida becomes personified in the story. The author speaks about it as if it is alive and has its own demands “what South Florida needs most is a killer hurricane” (Hiaasen 55). In such a way, readers start to think about the area as about the person who suffers from multiple problems caused by other people and their inappropriate attitude to some unique needs or requirements. This approach also contributes to the appearance of numerous ethical issues related to the story (Jeffries and McIntyre 45).
Using personification as a potent stylistic device, the author raises questions about the ways people interact with nature and their place in it. It is shown that there are some basic problems that are still disregarded because of the focus on entertainment, joy, and other types of activity, instead of trying to protect nature and create the basis for its future recovery. From this perspective, the actions of eco-terrorists also become disputable as their final goals were clear and understandable; however, violence becomes not the best option to achieve them.
Altogether, the story Tourist Season touches upon a critical problem of relations between people and nature. The main characters want to protect Florida from the harmful impact of tourists who invade it every year and damage its unique landscapes (Flank 45).
By using these themes, the author wants to emphasize the unique recreational importance and relevance of the area; however, at the same time, he shows the consumer attitude to the environment as local businessmen, banks, and investors consider it as a source of income that should be utilized to generate revenue (Revels 56). Emphasizing the spirit of invasion and victimhood, the author personifies Florida with the primary aim to sound more convincing and show readers the importance of issues touched upon in the story, which becomes fundamental from the perspective of current problems related to the environment and individuals’ impact on it. (1404)
Hiaasen, Carl. Tourist Season: A Suspense Thriller. Berkley, 2016.
Flank, Lenny. Florida’s Invaders: How Introduced Invasive and Non-Native Species are Changing the Ecology and Environment of the Sunshine State. Red and Black Publishers, 2018.
Franklin, P. Backroads of Florida. 2nd ed., Voyageur Press, 2016.
Jeffries, Lesley, and Daniel McIntyre. Stylistics. Cambridge University Press. 2010.
Revels, Tracy. Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism. University Press of Florida, 2011.
Watkins, Jerry. Queering the Redneck Riviera: Sexuality and the Rise of Florida Tourism. University Press of Florida, 2018.
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Drug Use in “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin Research Paper
Updated: Jun 2nd, 2021
“Sonny’s Blues” is a story written by James Baldwin, which focuses on two black brothers living in Harlem. The work was published in 1954, in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, which makes race a central subject of the book. It is primarily focused on the life of black adults and adolescents in the mid-20th century. Through exploring the characters’ lives, the author reflects on the notions of drug use, hopelessness, and escape in the context of the black community.
Drugs are among the key topics discussed in work since the narrator’s brother, Sonny, has recently been arrested for using heroin. Kowalska explains that “Sonny’s Blues” explores the dynamics associated with drug use and offers readers an insight into the chosen subculture (1). The author shows that drug use among adolescents and young adults is a significant problem of the black community and that it stems from disrupted adolescence (Kowalska 2).
Indeed, the images of adolescents described by Baldwin stress their early maturity through negative behaviors, including swearing, smoking, alcohol use, and drug use. Early in the text, the narrator hears school students talking and laughing in the hallway and notes: “It was not the joyous laughter which – God knows why – one associate with children. It was mocking and insular, its intent was to denigrate” (Baldwin 18). These images of adolescence serve to highlight the damage brought on children by their environment.
The depiction of drug and substance use serves to emphasize the suffering experienced by black people in Harlem. This is evident because the discussion of drugs and alcohol in work is associated with themes of death, grief, and suicide (Kowalska 2).
When the narrator meets Sonny’s friend, who is also a drug addict, he mentions that “if [he] was smart, [he would] have reached for a pistol a long time ago” (Baldwin 20). Another instance of death and grief being associated with self-destructive behaviors can be seen when the narrator recalls his father’s brother’s death (Baldwin 29). These instances show both the causes and the effects of substance use in the community. On the one hand, people use drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with grim reality. On the other hand, drug and alcohol use creates more problems for them and supports the cycle of personal suffering that exists in the community.
The lack of opportunities for the future is also a prominent topic connected to disrupted adolescence and childhood. The fact that the narrator is a school teacher serves to emphasize this idea by placing him close to the young black population. Despite trying to teach adolescents, the narrator acknowledges that it is unlikely for them to find decent jobs and live a happy life in the future. Baldwin writes: “They were growing up with a rush and their heads bumped abruptly against the low ceiling of their actual possibilities” (18). The context of the work is of particular importance here because, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevented discrimination based on race and color, black people had limited work opportunities in the United States.
The history of slavery and segregation meant that it was usually impossible for them to become integrated into society, and they faced prejudice and discrimination in all aspects of life. For children and adolescents, this created a sense of hopelessness and desperation. They had a poor motivation to succeed in school because it would not have made a difference with regards to future opportunities, and Baldwin acknowledges it in his work (18).
The author also establishes that the lack of opportunity is real for all black people, regardless of how educated, kind, or good they are. This is particularly evident in Sonny’s image and the narrator’s discussion. Reilly explains that the narrator always believed his brother to be a “good kid,” and this thought made him think that there was nothing to worry about (231). After the news of his brother being arrested for using heroin, it is evident that the narrator’s thoughts were delusional and that being a good kid cannot pave the way to a brighter future for black adolescents. This part of the work is important because it creates a foundation for the author’s exploration of whether or not it is possible to escape the life experienced by Harlem’s black community.
Incidentally, the theme of escape is prominent in work, and it manifests itself in various ways, both obvious and obscure. The first time when the narrator mentions escape is when he passes by the streets of his childhood: “It must be said, perhaps, that I had escaped, after all, I was a school teacher” (Baldwin 24). Indeed, becoming a school teacher was an achievement for a black man in mid-20th century America.
However, the description of living conditions provided by the author alludes to the fact that the thought of escape for any black person is delusional. Baldwin writes, “it looks like a parody of the good, clean, faceless life – God knows the people who live in it do their best to make it a parody […] The big windows fool no one, they aren’t big enough to make space out of no space” (25). The narrator’s thoughts contradict his previous statement as if he is fooling himself by thinking that he could ever escape. Despite becoming a teacher, he is surrounded by the same issues, people, and houses as when he was a child. This reinforces the thought that academic and career achievements will not help one to escape from the reality faced by black people in Harlem.
Whether or not escape is possible at all is a question that arises at different points in “Sonny’s Blues,” and for every character, escape is different. Sonny’s friend that the narrator meets in the beginning views suicide and death as the only paths to escaping. His reality is hopeless, and it is evident from his words, “can’t much help old Sonny no more” (Baldwin 20). Age, drug use, and sociological situation create a parallel between this character and Sonny, which means that he also believes that there is nothing that can help him escape. Death is seen as a smart choice here because it would provide an escape from the suffering that the character has experienced.
Sonny’s story, on the other hand, offers a different answer to the question of escape. Sonny finds his escape in music, which helps him to overcome addiction and brighten up reality. Sherard confirms that for Sonny, music was the only means of surviving through the suffering that he experienced as part of the black community (692). It was similar for many other black people at the time, which is why blues is seen as a primarily African American music genre.
In a way, music helps Sonny to reconnect with the collective identity of black people in a positive way, thus ridding him of the drug addiction and allowing him to find meaning in life. Sherard states “Sonny’s Blues” incorporates Baldwin’s arguments on the necessity of African Americans’ awareness of their cultural norms and identities (693). Hence, while the narrator sees escape in living in the same circumstances and environments as white people, Sonny’s hope is in forming a strong positive connection with his culture.
Finally, it is critical to note that the narrator, too, finds hope and escape towards the end of the story, although not in the way that he would expect. Nelson shows that the narrator’s journey from ignorance to understanding and acceptance is what grants him escape in the end (28). It is true that at the beginning of the work, the narrator attempts to ignore and distance himself from the struggles faced by other members of the community.
His ignorance was probably the main reason why he failed to maintain contact with his brother: he wanted to believe that as a good kid, Sonny would face no trouble. However, when he is confronted by the reality of his brother’s drug addiction, he is forced to accept it. As Nelson explains, the narrator’s journey to self-discovery is rooted in recognition of Sonny’s anguish and suffering (28). By reconnecting with his brother, the narrator also finds a way to accept reality, with both its positive and negative aspects. For him, acceptance is the key to escape, and the work confirms this idea.
All in all, the themes of drug use, hopelessness, and escape are prominent in Baldwin’s story. The issues explored by the author reflect his view of life in a black community and are primarily defined by the context of the work. Through portraying both positive and negative aspects of living in a black community, the author opposes the notion of hopelessness and allows both main characters to find an escape from their suffering.
Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” The Jazz Fiction Anthology, edited by Sasha Feinstein and David Rife, Indiana University Press, 2009, pp. 17-48.
Kowalska, Eva. “Troubled Reading: ‘Sonny’s Blues’ and Empathy.” Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies, vol. 36, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-6.
Nelson, Emmanuel S. “James Baldwin’s Vision of Otherness and Community.” MELUS, vol. 10, no. 2, 1983, pp. 27-31.
Reilly, John M. “‘Sonny’s Blues’: James Baldwin’s Image of Black Community.” Critical Insights: James Baldwin, edited by Morris Dickstein, Salem Press, 2010, pp. 230-238.
Sherard, Tracey. “Sonny’s Bebop: Baldwin’s Blues Text as Intracultural Critique.” African American Review, vol. 32, no. 4, 1998, pp. 691-705.
This research paper on Drug Use in “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Human & Nature in Russell’s “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” Essay
Updated: Jun 2nd, 2021
Karen Russell’s “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” is a fantasy fiction story that tells about a group of girls who grew up in a forest and were raised by wolves. Following the order of their mother, who is a werewolf, the girls entered St. Lucy’s home to get re-educated by nuns. They face many hardships in the process of adaptation to the human world: learn how to wear clothes, talk to people, and behave in society. The setting of fantasy fiction merged with reality helps to see human society from a different perspective and sheds light on the way we live our lives.
The Subgenre of the Story
In fantasy fiction, the story uses magic creatures, such as werewolves, who want their children to get a better education among people. This subgenre helps a reader to focus on the details and setting that differ the human world from fiction. The magical storyline depicts the humanity of magic nature, showing how werewolves want their children to be educated. “Our parents wanted something better for us; they wanted us to get braces, use towels, be fully bilingual” (Russell 227). This introduction to the world of magic arranged through the use of fantasy fiction subgenre gets a reader acquainted with the primary tool that the author uses. This tool is the use of minor details embedded in the setting of the story.
Minor Details and Setting
The setting of the story is described through characters and small details. The mentors at St. Lucy’s house are always called nuns or sisters, which gives the reader a feeling of a traditional and religious society, where rituals and norms of behavior are crucial. This part of the human world is associated with purity, spirituality, and peace. Using a religious topic makes readers imagine the atmosphere in the house with no need for additional descriptions of the environment.
Many particular details, such as smells, light, the hardships of using casual objects, focus the reader’s attention on the differences between the wild world and human society. The girls who come from the forest have difficulties in wearing shoes, which limit their moves; they are disgusted with the smells of food, chemicals, and perfume. “Everything was smudged with a human odor: baking bread, petrol…” (Russell 228).
Descriptions of these details make readers feel emotional, remembering how they learned first things as children and awaking their pure child souls. The readers feel compassionate for the girls, trying to recall the time when they forgot about their true nature. This effect is reached by opposing the details and the setting of the traditional human world with the magic of the wild forest.
Describing the Setting of the Education Process
The progress in describing the setting of the education process draws parallels to the way people grow up in a civilized society. Step by step, the girls learn to obey the rules of the community. They forget their true nature and pretend to be someone else – a personality who does not show true feelings. Eventually, in an attempt to be accepted by human society, the girls learn to tell lies to satisfy the expectations of others. Readers feel sorry for the characters and understand that this setting is the reality of their own lives.
In the fantasy fiction story “St. Lucy’s home for girls raised by wolves,” the author focuses on describing the settings and the details, opposing the fiction to reality. The reader looks at ordinary things from a different perspective, seeing colligations to his or her own life, realizing that a human heart is like a wild wolf. Animals grow up with no restrictions, and no one teaches them that something can be right or wrong about what they feel or do. Being wild, the soul of a human still has signs of human nature – it can love, be compassionate, and caring. The setting of the story makes us remember that we have to remove artificial limits and restrictions to be able to hear the real wild voice of our soul.
Russell, Karen. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Vintage, 2007.
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1950s in Wilson’s “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” Research Paper
Updated: May 21st, 2021
“The most significant fact about me is that for four and a half years my profession was jumping out of airplanes with a gun, and now I want to go into public relations.” That probably wouldn’t get him the job, Tom thought…. “The most significant fact about me is that I’ve become a cheap cynic.” (Wilson 15)
Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit has become a cornerstone within the genre of fictional stories that depict American corporate and consumer culture directly following the Second World War. The American 1950s had the imprint of many linchpin historical events that created a rift between civilians and war veterans. Wilson effectively ties together the two main themes of the era: the traumatic effects of participating in the war effort and the attempt to pursue traditional capitalistic happiness within these new circumstances.
The “Consumer Culture” of the 1950s
The meaning of the American dream was embedded in its possible attainment by anyone through working hard, as the American society was said to have few barriers between an individual and their success. Happiness becomes accessible through product attainment, and even the opening of the story deals with the fact that the protagonist and his wife, Tom and Betsy Rath, want to live in a better house (Wilson 1). This theme is, coincidentally, one that the story attempts to dispute, demonstrating the disturbing aspects of the American dream, consumerism, and corporatism for those making their way up the social and business ladder.
Formation, History, Representation
To contend such a keystone idea, prominent on a national scale it is first necessary to understand the origins of it. Already during the 19th century, Americans are in general are described as “the most energetic people [that] were paired with the most boundless trove of natural resources” (Morris 288). World War II made America in the 1940s an economic behemoth both internally and externally (Wooldridge and Greenspan 273). This kind of prosperity even gave the name of the Fabulous Fifties to this decade of American history, demonstrating the extravagance of the epoch.
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, however, shows the negative sides of corporate culture presenting the cynicism and the two facades of those who adapt their individuality for the benefit at a moment’s notice. Things that get a person the job position become valued and falsely or in reality adhering to the work-unrelated whims and interests of employers decides movement up the corporate ladder. The business setting and the morality within it is a prevalent topic within the Fabulous Fifties.
The movie Executive Suite (1954) depicts the chaos of the struggle for power within a company after the death of its president, showing lowly and cutthroat behavior. Howells’ The Rise of Silas Lapham deals with similar ethical issues throughout the book (343). However, Tom Rath’s story, set in 1953, was intended to show not just the moral compass predicament but also deal with the systematic disillusionment, which was not yet possible in the 19th century.
The Relevance of Capitalistic Happiness and Sloan Wilson Today
The story of the detriment of corporate culture, overwork, and conformism seems to be superfluously relevant to a 21st-century world. However, these questions remain acute, especially considering the idea of the importance of taking accountability for your own life, rather than just the individual actions that make it up. A demonstrative sign of error within 1950s society would be the example of Saul Bernstein, a judge, operating not by the law but by “which of the two men would be pleased by justice?” (Wilson 149). Therefore, the character of Tom Rath remains relevant primarily not only due to his veteran status and the perseverance of the story’s circumstances in today’s world but because he aspires to moral goodness and straightforwardness.
American Businessmen and Young Families in the Post-World War II America
A threat to morality and ethics stemmed from the desire to demonstrate oneself as the best candidate not only through work-related performance but also as someone fitting ideally within the mandatory corporate culture. A controlling mechanism was achieved, as may be identified by the story’s title, “by enforcement of dress codes and norms and by informal social control” (de Casanova 74). This trend within the workplace blended in with family life, affecting that which seemed utterly separate from employment.
Role of Women: Clerics and Executives’ Wives
Women take on an important but perhaps not directly visible role within Wilson’s story. The position of women workers despite experiencing an elevation due to an interest in them as employees during World War II was still that of subordination (Orleck 254; Bonaparte 12; Ruggles 1805). As an example, the depiction of secretaries in the story takes on an almost vulgar tone, with them often being hired for looks. An apt representation of this would be Tom’s thought when he, freshly raised to a special assistant, examines calling-buttons in his office: “maybe the second one’s for a redhead and the third one’s for a brunette” (Wilson 109).
The dres’ code of office-working women is additionally intended not to blend in, as the gray suit does, but on standing out (de Casanova 121; Wilson 109). This kind of thinking is not meant to be an example of Tom’s misogyny, but instead of the trends of the time, wherein women clerics and secretaries become victims of the same conformism.
Executives’ wives are not bereft of participating in this motif, advancing it in a different vector as sole caretakers of emotionally empty homes. Their husbands’ overworked state takes a toll on personal lives, with the households of Hopkins and Rath becoming two relevant examples. Helen Hopkins, distanced by her husband’s work ethic to the periphery of his attention, creates her own life, occupying herself with children and parties (Wilson 173).
The cry of their daughter Susan “you’ve hardly bothered to see me since I was born!” becomes the slogan of the children whose parents focused on work not only to attain the American dream (Wilson 230). The role of wives remains supportive, as in a way Betsy Rath makes the same sacrifices during war and peacetime through waiting for her husband, whether from work or the front.
The Rath Family
Betsy and Tom start falling into the same trap as the rest of the corporate workers’ families through their adherence to the superimposed scheme. Effectively, all of the sacrifices made during the story are a direct attempt to achieve happiness through work, perseverance, and competition, which is a straightforward idea of the American dream (de Casanova 185-186). The rift between them is deepened by their inability to sympathize with the war versus civilian experience. The conflict between their real wishes and the current situation, however, becomes too much to bear, with Tom, and therefore Betsy, eventually withdrawing from the corporate race in favor of finding their happiness.
Betsy Rath as an Executive
It is interesting to analyze the character of Betsy Rath as a strong woman, who fights against conformity and effectively becomes the catalyst for Tom’s character growth. She reacts to Tom’s preference to continue to speak what people would like to hear, all in the name of achieving the American dream, by calling this kind of behavior sickening (Wilson 204). While Tom states that “wars are full of dirt,” it is Betsy that bluntly conveys to both her husband and the reader that the corporate workplace is not much different (Wilson 291). Betsy’s character thus is portrayed not as physically but as emotionally strong.
As seen in the story, when moving up the corporate ladder there comes a time when speaking your mind becomes rewarded, something that is, however, not welcome while at lower-standing positions. Therefore, musing on Betsy’s competency as an executive through displacing her from the traditional role of a wife to that of a business administrator becomes interesting to consider. Her character is that of a woman who is not afraid to take risks, endure hardships, and say what must be spoken to change people’s minds and mold the situation to her advantage (Wilson 269). Therefore, while maybe in a time-displaced from the misogyny of the 1950s her competency could doubtless be achieved at a higher standing corporate position it would be tempered by her vehement distaste for groveling.
Demonstrating the effects of disillusionment and work-related exhaustion through the example of numerous families and their struggle for happiness, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit becomes a story about balancing between conformity and rebellion. Through a joint effort, Tom and Betsy Rath attempt to overcome the hindrances to their happiness posed by corporate culture and deepened by World War II. Rebellion thus becomes the “winning side” of the argument, with both of the characters refusing to continue to partake in societally predestinated roles for the sake of the now almost hollow American dream.
Bonaparte, Margaret. Reexamining the 1950s American Housewife: How Ladies Home Journal Challenged Domestic Expectations during the Postwar Period. 2014. Scripps College, Senior Thesis.
de Casanova, Erynn Masi. Buttoned Up: Clothing, Conformity, and White-Collar Masculinity. Cornell University Press, 2015.
Executive Suite. Directed by Robert Wise, performances by Robert Wise, Wiliam Holden, and Barbara Stanwyck, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1954.
Howells, William Dean. The Rise of Silas Lapham. Booklassic, 2015.
Morris, Charles R. The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy. Owl Books, 2005.
Orleck, Annelise. Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965. 2nd ed., University of North Carolina Press, 2017.
Ruggles, Steven. “Patriarchy, Power, and Pay: The Transformation of American Families, 1800–2015.” Demography, vol. 52, no. 6, 2015, pp. 1797–1823.
Wilson, Sloan. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Da Capo Press, 2002.
Wooldridge, Adrian, and Alan Greenspan. Capitalism in America: A History. Penguin Press, 2018.
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