Tag Archives: Isolation

Connection and Isolation of Individual Worlds

The novel After Dark puts a lot of emphasis on the individual worlds that each person lives in, in contrast to the expansive reality that they exist within.  The surreal elements in the novel, specifically the use of the television, allow for a direct view into the isolated worlds that each character has created for themselves.  The most obvious example is the room  on the other side of the television that Eri is transported to where she cannot escape.  This represents the deep sleep that plagues her as she isolates herself from the “flesh-and-blood world” which houses her problems, including her inability to connect with her sister (109).  Thus, Eri is only able to start to escape her own world and wake up once Mari tries to reconnect to her sister  which solves the problem that drove Eri  into her own isolated world to begin with.  Mari reconnects with her sister in the same way that they first connected when they were children trapped in an elevator where they clung to each other to the point that they shared the same heartbeat.  It is there when the darkness hid the flesh-and-blood world and allowed the sisters to connect on a more personal level.  The novel may highlight the loneliness and isolation of people as they are trapped in their own individual worlds, but shows hope of an ability to connect with one another beyond the plane of reality.

 

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Nightfall Brings Separation

Haruki Murakami’s novel, After Dark, is true to its title. The Japanese city that the novel takes place in is transformed upon sundown; the respectful business people have gone home to the suburbs and the city becomes alive with crimes like prostitution. The reader gets a sense of dreaminess when the stage is set: “In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature—or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms” (2) . The dreaminess that is established by Murakami seems to highlight the feeling of isolation that is brought on by nightfall. It is like fogginess has befallen the people of the city which works to bring out a sense of isolation in the characters of the novel.

For instance, Mari is a young woman who is sitting alone in a Denny’s restaurant. Despite the restaurant being almost full of people, it manages to be, “anonymous and interchangeable” (3). This atmosphere suggests that the presence of people is not enough to remove the felling of separation that nightfall brings. The Chinese prostitute that is beaten represents another level of separation; she is not only separated from her homeland, she is physically separated from the other women who help her. She is unable to communicate with Mari and she bears the marks of her beatings which will separate her from her fellow prostitutes by putting her out of work. Her occupation is one that is notoriously associated with nightfall because of its connection with sin. Although people are still active during night, they face a new separation from the world they live in; a sense of isolation that cannot be escaped until sunrise.

 

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Isolation from Reality in “Blu’s Hanging” using Animals as Symbolism

Growing up, older members of my family who are native to Puerto Rico, particularly my grandparents on both of my parents’ sides, encouraged me to escape sadness and negativity by turning to religion for comfort. I became aware later in my childhood that the ideals I was taught were not true for all people, and people from different places believe in different entities and  symbols that provide them with comfort the way my beliefs do. These differences are what make people unique, and the ways their beliefs affect the way they live almost dictate whether or not they will live a stressful or stress-free life.

As I was reading “Blu’s Hanging”, I found that the story was abundant with symbolism that was unfamiliar to me, particularly because of how counterintuitive it seemed. For example, many people have been taught that crossing paths with a black cat is bad luck, where as black cats play a vital role in minimizing sadness. It also became apparent that, when Hoppy Creetat and Ka-san were brought into the household, life for the family became more bearable an, at times, fun.

In addition, there are instances when  the animals act as extensions of the Ogata family, while other times the animals are presented as spiritual guides that contain wisdom that will release the family from sadness, such as the dog’s tears and the colors of the cats. The animals of the family have always, in some way, affected the emotional state of each character in some way that allows them to escape from the disenchanting occurrences of their daily lives. Such apparent symbolism inspired me to research more heavily on the topic.

Questions that will encourage further clarification of my main points in my essay are:

1. What makes the presence of birds important? Do animals, other than cats and dogs, play a significant enough role to mention in conjunction with the greatest symbolic animals of the text?

2. Why is it important that a black dog can be substituted for a black cat when the latter is absent in the Ogata family’s lives? What can this signify?

3. Does their living situation affect how strongly they believe in the symbolic representation of the animals? How would their experience with animals be different if they were financially better off than they are in the story?

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Isolation as Social Control in The Handmaid’s Tale and Other Dystopian Literature

While reading The Handmaid’s Tale it was very clear the Offred was existing in a dystopian world, as this is one of my favorite types of writing it immediately stood out to me.  As a sociology major I find interaction between individuals very interesting and I found the aspect of isolation in this story very intriguing.  Although there may be characters in other stories who are more isolated, such as Robinson Crusoe, I find the isolation while still surrounded by many individuals worth exploring further.  Similarly to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games also takes place in a dystopian culture and the leaders of this world utilize isolation as a means of control.  In The Handmaid’s Tale it is by placing women in very specific roles that are pitted against each other and not allowing the individuals to speak freely, and similarly in The Hunger Games the different Districts are pitted against each other and therefore not able to unite for their common purpose of freedom.  Additionally, the lack of access to reliable and accurate information about the world at large.  Through depriving the public of a true feeling of community the governments were able to keep their population in line and keep them from having a revolt at large.  Things I would like to explore are:

1)  Will The Hunger Games really work in a effective way to illuminate the isolation and deprivation of the women in The Handmaid’s Tale?

2)  Was there more than isolation contributing to the control over the public in The Handmaid’s Tale? If so, what else contributed to this lack of motivation to change their environment?

3)  Do other dystopian tales exhibit similar isolation tactics?  If not, what other environments produce similar issues?

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