A Common Chain Among Literary Works – Literature Essay
How do six novels create a common chain that relates to each other? The following novels: The Stranger, The metamorphosis, One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich, Cry the beloved country, Heart of Darkness, and Things fall apart all have one simple relation: Loneliness.
In the novel The Stranger, we find a character, whose name was Meursault, who lives alone in an apartment. He goes through his normal routine everyday: eats in the morning, goes to work, comes back home, eats again and sleeps. When he is eating dinner, he usually sits on his balcony and observes pedestrians walking about. If he talks to someone, its usually a vague conversation that he is never interested in. But most of the time, he finds himself alone and trapped in his apartment, which is a huge sign of loneliness.
In the same way, trapped in four walls is Gregor, from The Metamorphosis. This man, has a similar routine to Meursaults, he wakes up at the same time every morning to not miss his train, works to sustain his family and comes back home. One day Gregor realizes he has turned in a giant cockroach. He tries to accustom himself to his new lifestyle which he finds hard because not only is he stranded in a room, but he struggles very deeply with the loneliness he’s feeling after he understands no one accepts him. Gregor also fails to adjust to his identity.
Ivan from One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich also has the same identity struggle, but in a different way. In a way that he is trying to be different and show uniqueness unlike the rest of the replicas in the work camp he is being held at. Facing this and many other problems, he also faces loneliness because not only is he being imprisoned for 10 years (which is a lie), he is away from his family and friends, and really finds no one in comfort to be with in the camp. Therefore, looking at loneliness in the eye and while trying to find uniqueness, what else makes it harder is the separation between the prisoners (which are also labels) which are the men who lick out bowls, the men who put their faith in the infirmary and the squealers and screws.
Having a separation problem, or more specific, segregation problem, is the country in which Reverend Kumalo (from Cry the beloved country ) which is South Africa. They struggle with apartheid which is a culture of oppression and also the segregation between races, in this book being the White Anglo race and the Black Indian race. The white men seem to own all the land and experience better luxuries than the poverty the black men have to endure with. Kumalo experiences loneliness in a way that he seems to be the only one having hopes for his mislead family members living a city called Johannesburg. While this, certain white men and women have the wrong idea that they are much better, that they have personal power and also great wealth (this can be interpreted in many ways).
A much severe condition of this would be called, megalomania, and in the novel. The heart of darkness a specific character experiences this. His name is Kurtz, he is obsessed with collecting ivory, leading the plants stated in Africa and is also full of himself. He has all these workers in such control that even when they are talking about him without his presence, they choke up words that they don’t even agree with themselves. At the end Kurtz is found on his death bed, without anyone that cares about him by his side. This is only a reflection of loneliness, and knowing that he was dying alone with his secrets laying unrevealed. In this novel, the white men always misinterpret the actions of the natives, or the savages as they are referred by the ivory collectors. They are considered ignorant, naïve, and dangerous.
In the same way, characters from the novel Things fall apart consider the actions of the missionaries that have arrived at their homeland very ignorant too. They only see it as this because its not part of their culture. The white Christian missionaries and also the native missionaries have very different beliefs that only sound crazy to the ears of the natives from this African country. Also, the missionaries’ customs and ways of being traits, character, morals and rules) are extremely different from the beliefs of the natives (the missionaries would think these are foolish too). One person we find lonely in this novel is, Okonkwo. After the missionaries had settled in and after he returned to his fatherland after his exile, he’s experiencing this because he seems to be the only man that actually cares about what’s going on, because even one of the high ranking men in that tribe has given in to the missionaries (no one seems to be on his side about violence).
This man is also very emotionless, with anger being all that defines him. Instead of actually believing in a god, he only walks about tradition so he doesn’t make himself look bad. A really good example of this is when Agbala’s Priestess takes Enzima to Agbala’s Cave (you’re not suppose to follow her) and Okonkow along with Ekwefi did. In this same way of being emotionless and doesn’t necessarily believe in any higher power is Meursault, from The stranger. As told earlier, he follows a routine and if actually communicates with anyone, it’s a very vague communication, he doesn’t express emotions (specially that of love which is very exposed to him), and the light (representing
God), bothers him and he denies it.
To sum it all up, one common trait that each of the novels had was the factor of loneliness. Each novel had a specific connection to the other, but they all involved a sense of loneliness in the book in general or just one of the characters. This created a chain, and the examples of loneliness vary from being lonely yourself and having no one to having people not believe in what you believe in, thus causing a loneliness.