Analysis of the Element of the Human Condition in LiteratureNovember 8, 2017
In “To Build a Fire,” the unnamed protagonist dies in the wilderness because he did not respect It. In “A Point of Morals,” a moral decision Is Investigated. And In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,” very fundamentally, reality is questioned. War, nature, morals. And reality are the themes In each respective story to be explored. Jack London is a fine observer of nature and the processes therein taken for granted. Humanity is a part of the cycle of life but industrialization and arbitration have left a great many of us ignorant of this. The survival instinct has been dulled by he Immediacy and convenience of modern life.
The man in his story Is half way between this modern world and that of more preemptively man, eking out an existence In the rough outback of Alaska. He doesn’t heed the warnings of the seasoned old man – that he should be very wary of the cold. Denial of man’s vulnerability is an all-too- present fallacy. We build our civilizations to as great a height as they will go, but there is always a check. We mostly compete with ourselves, but Mother Nature still greatly impinges upon us as we see New Orleans deluged and Haiti in crumbles.
The man In the wild is overcome by his own disregard, simply dying In the cold and unmoved snow. Mother Is misunderstood and disrespected, and we distance ourselves physically and psychologically while Mother Nature blankets us comforting sometimes, suffocating others in an unemotional embrace. She just is. War is the most powerfully evolutionary event in human history. It is the best release valve we have come up with so far for conflict, and its affects are felt in politics, art, language, culture, etc. In this way war Is frequently analyzed while the individuals sacrificed are more neglected.
The Vietnam War was the first war in modern recollection that highlighted Individual stories free of valor and bravado. The rallying cry for its end upset the role propaganda had once played. Tim O’Brien gives a semi-autobiographical account of his combat experience in Vietnam in “The Things They Carried. ” He is able to bring virgins of war to know it. But they can already relate. There are parallels in conflicts of life universal. We all have things we carry from the past, and, as in the story, we carry each other through much.
Life is shifting alliances. Death is always waiting, so we carry on through each other. Can one claim to know right from wrong? Ellen Glasgow brings us this problem in “A Point in Morals. ” A criminal wants to die, is sure to die anyway, but the alienist is not sure whether he would “help” him by giving him the opium. There is too much unknown information about the man. The most important question is whether or not the alienist would be considered a murderer. Euthanasia is an outstanding issue in morality. Tidied is inevitable but we hold onto life dearly.
Many people attest to gaining a sense of belonging to death in the final stages of it – of letting go of this life. For another life, maybe; many hold onto that and await passage into eternity. But what gives anyone the right to make that decision for or even with them? Even a murderer was once an innocent child, when all roads are possible. Warring moral factions debate these and other ethical dilemmas and even go to actual war over them. It is no wonder this is a literary gold mine. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the story of a woman coming undone in her construct of aired mother at the end of the 19th century.
It appeals to woman of all eras, though, and to the mentally diseased and existentialists alike. As she rips the wallpaper from the ghastly room’s cage walls, we see her ripping in two freeing her cage bird from its yellow confinement. When we deconstruct and as we unravel, as we all do from time to time, the line between reality and unreality becomes thin. Where did that line come from? Is that the real figment of imagination? The only truth in the story is what she has written. Concordantly, in our own lives, the only Ruth we can claim to have any grasp of is what we have written.
Our mind is a journal of thoughts – pages flying about, snippets solemn in their perspective. The ultimate question is the bedrock of our inquisitive mind and literature has done much to shed shades of both light and dark upon it. In writing of the human condition, it must be said that we are aware of our awareness of it. This tempers all other phenomena and concentrates the literary vein of experiential knowledge that many masters explore for all our sake with due diligence. London sold us on uncompromising nature. Ellen Glasgow dares moral absolutists.
Charlotte Perkins Gillian breaks our heart with a mind suffocated by the fabric of reality. Tim O’Brien shares with us the undesirable, yet unifying consequences of war. And they all reach out to us, and tell us what we already know. They ask all the same questions we ask, not expecting an answer. We are, each of us, an irreverent backwoodsman, a moralist, a criminal, a mad woman, and a burdened soldier explaining to one another the vagaries of life. In this condition we find ourselves in, it is all too human to try.