Human beings are by nature social creatures. We need to be raised by others, bred by other, and also to live with others. More than one short story this semester dealt with a theme that is the opposite of community- alienation. In the three short stories Cathedral, The Man From Mars, and Bad Girls multiple characters experience feelings of solitude at some point during the story. Because of limitations, both external and internal, the characters of Robert and the narrator in Cathedral, Isaak Drumm and the girls in Bad Girls, and Christine and the man from mars in The Man From Mars, are excluded from their surroundings, from their loved ones, and ultimately from themselves.
[...] Orchid runs into Isaak Drumm in Rochester and we can see what stress and solitude have done to him. “Isaak Drumm had changed a lot in four years, his hair not in a pompadour now but flat and graying, and his mustache vanished so his face looked raw and exposed, the skin coarser than I remembered, yet the eyes so intense.” Isaak, with tears in his eyes, pleads with Orchid to believe in his innocence which, in her heart I think, she does. [...]
[...] His alienation is also evident in that he speaks English very poorly. make map.” I go with you now.” come to tea.” English is not good, but I improve.” We are left with a good impression of a foreigner who simply struggles with a language barrier. This boy, as a foreigner also suffers from the struggles of cultural barriers. He's a stranger in a strange land. Of course, we learn that this is no excuse for his stalking behavior. It is when he moves back from Montreal that the stalking begins. [...]
[...] - he's the scariest yet. You notice those eyes. I know psycho eyes when I see them. Rapist eyes. Pederast.” And it is in these cruel words among others that we see the alienation of the girls themselves. Orchid, Icy, and Crystal are teenagers, and more importantly young teenagers. This is an age group that by definition feels estranged from the rest of the world. It is a mischievous age and a no-one- understands-me time of life that is full of alienating thoughts. [...]
[...] Interesting that it is Robert who encourages the narrator while he is drawing as this seems illogical, yet it is somehow fitting. We are left with a vision of these two men, hand in hand, both thinking of this grand cathedral, both theoretically blind, and now both equal. The narrator finally begins to try to understand. eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn't feel like I was inside anything. “It's really something,” I said. We have a unity at story's end. [...]
[...] And while they were in no way right for each other, once they felt the taste of community or togetherness, they craved it deeply, just like anyone else. Our heart goes out for them. They both end up alone and alienated as they started. In all three stories of “Cathedral,” Girls,” and Man From Mars” multiple characters are introduced that are lone characters. They are separated from their families, their friends, and from their surroundings by a degree of barriers. Some of these are internal, others external. Some are the characters' own fault, while others are [...]
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