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Modernism In Love And Isolation English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1104 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Modernism and Postmodernism are two different styles of writing in which literature broke traditional forms and subject matter. Occurring in the early-to-mid-twentieth-century Modernism challenged and frequently replaced customs, beliefs, and traditions. During the twenties up to the late-forties there was an ongoing view that the world was governed by anarchy. Remember, this was an age that witnessed the ugly face of communism going on in Russia, the horror of World Wars I and II, and the collapse of accepted truths in science, religion, and politics. Postmodernism began shortly after the end of World War II and continues through today. Just like Modernism challenges customs, beliefs, and traditions, Postmodernism contests the philosophy and practices of modern art and literature. In a sense, Modernism could be described as a mature adult and Postmodernism is Modernisms young child. Young, immature, and perhaps rebellious, Post modernism celebrates the anarchy that the world is viewed to be governed by instead of trying to correct it. New ideas in anthropology, psychology, philosophy, political theory, psychoanalysis, and physics were very influential in ushering in the Modernist movement. One Postmodernist work in particular is entitled “A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud” written by Carson McCullers. One new idea out of the list above had an impact in creating a sense of isolation inside of “A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud.” That particular idea which was very influential for Carson McCullers was philosophy.

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For McCullers the new ideas of philosophy had a huge impact in creating a sense of isolation in her piece of literature. She tended to write with a sense of gothic literary tradition. For dramatic or comic effect, as a writer she exploited the grotesque. Not only for those two reasons did she exploit the grotesque, but she also wanted to emphasize the isolation of the human being. “A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud” is a very intellectual, and abstract piece of literature. This is evident in that the two main characters don’t even have names. They are intentionally left without names. This is because the characters aren’t the focal point of the short story. The point of the story goes much deeper than that. Remember this is the Modernism and Post modernism era of literature. Literature takes on a whole new avant-garde approach.

Philosophy is defined as the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct. Philosophy is just one of the many ideas that helped get the bal rolling in the whole Modernist movement.

Carson McCullers did a good job with the use of presenting her characters in “A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud.” The story starts off with the details that it is rainy, dark and early in the morning. One of the main characters, “the boy,” almost finished with his paper route, enters in a café to get a cup of coffee. The café is managed by a stingy man named Leo, the only character given a name. There are a few other people in the café, but most importantly there is a man in a corner with his nose and half his face down in a beer mug. Just as the boy pays for his coffee and begins to leave, a voice cries out. “Son! Hey Son!” The boy turned back to find the man in the corner was crooking his finger and nodding to him. With his face out of the beer mug, he seemed suddenly very happy. The man summoned the boy over to where he was and proceeded to grasp the boy’s chin and slowly turned his face from side to side. In a shrill manner the boy spouted “Say! What’s the big idea?” Simply the man slowly said, “I love you.” This was comical to the men around the bar, and even the boy laughed a little. Despite the laughter of others, the man was serious and sad. He had just one thing on his mind, that thing is love. It was a “science” to him. McCullers really emphasizes the being of this character as he further explains his “science of love” to the boy. To McCullers, a lover was always vulnerable unless he loved someone or something from which he expected nothing in return. This belief is really quite interesting to think about. As the story progresses, a relation can be found that McCullers belief is portrayed in the man’s “science of love.” The man continues to tell the boy of a past relationship with a woman. This woman that he tells the boy about was his ex-wife. He tells the boy about his life and how many things impressed him. “Moonlight. The leg of a pretty girl. One thing after another.” He figured out he enjoyed all these things but he had the sensation that they were just laying around loose in him. He confided to the boy that he had never loved. That is until he met her, which he called Dodo, but “that is immaterial” said the man. They were married for some time and then, oblivious to the man, she left him. This was a traumatic even for the man. The event caused him to chase after her and seek her. After sometime a strange thing started to occur to the man. All of the sudden, he could not remember her; he went blank in the mania of searching for her. This went on for five years until finally the science came to him. He concluded that what was wrong is that what men fall in love with for the first time is a woman. His science is that they start with the wrong end of love. They begin at the climax and the most dangerous and sacred experience in God’s earth. The man suggests to the boy the proper way love should be begun. “A tree. A rock. A cloud.” Throughout the man’s journey he was very cautious in that he might get a goldfish and concentrate on it and love it. He did this in several ways. That was his science. The whole point of this story is how and why the man creates his science of love.

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McCullers believed that a lover was always vulnerable unless he loved someone, or something, from which he expected nothing in return. Through the investigation of the truths and principles of love, that belief is portrayed in “A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud.” With the use of characters, the boy, the man, and Leo, to me, McCullers may be portraying her own science of love. Through the traumatic experience of isolation the man endured, he taught himself to be cautious when it comes to love. After reading this Postmodern work, it is clear to see that philosophy impacted McCullers to create a sense of isolation in the work “A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud.”


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