Naturalism: Debut Albums and Humans Essay

Submitted By krarmstr
Words: 1091
Pages: 5

Engl 224
American Literature after Civil War

Boundless Wilderness

Society seduces its humans with an idea of a seemingly fulfilling life. Whether male or female, one is given a laid out synopsis of how to survive and how to be happy. Naturalist writings show how humans may struggle with society’s ideals and what it has set out for them. Kate Chopin and Jack London both show the lack of knowledge and confusion that humans are faced with when they are not enveloped in the paths they are set in by society. Chopin’s The Awakening and London’s “To Build A Fire” are both riveting stories that describe such encounters. The struggle for survival, non-existent instincts, and the lack of independence that both main characters had reveal the undying threat that society has on its people and shows the significance of the vast horizons that they meet. The main characters’ encounter with the unknown is their sentence to death; both struggled for survival under different circumstances. Edna Pontieller, the main character in The Awakening, experienced her vast horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. This is where her family went on vacation and is also where her predestined death takes place. She only went to it twice, but the first time she went is when she began to realize her unhappy conditions. The vacation made her have an “indescribable oppression” that “filled her whole being with a vague anguish”, “it was a mood” (The Awakening, p.539). This mood carried with her to her home in New Orleans, where she abandoned her children. In a sense, her struggle for survival was her struggle for being. She moved into her own house, the “pigeon house”, away from her children, and began to paint. When Robert, her beach fling, became involved again, one sees her struggle even more to know who she is and what she wants to fulfill her in life or if there is anything that will fulfill her. In one conversation with Robert at Grand Isle she says, “A thousand emotions have swept through me to-night. I don’t comprehend half of them. Don’t mind what I’m saying; I am just thinking aloud. I wonder if I shall ever be stirred again as Mademoiselle Resz’s playing moved me to-night. I wonder if any night on earth will ever again be like this one. It is like a night in a dream” (The Awakening, p. 556). This shows her confusion with being and what is real or not real, and why she does not feel the way that other women are supposed to feel. Edna is in a perpetual struggle throughout the novel with herself and what she is meant for. In “To Build a Fire”, the Yukon man’s vastness is in the more than 55 degrees below 0 adventure to a camp that he never reaches. The Yukon man shows naturalism through his survival of the fittest story. He is constantly trying to keep his blood going and not freeze to death. His struggle for survival is more literal than Edna’s, but nevertheless as important. He consistently tried to get warm and fought for whatever he could to not pass away. The story shows his death in the wilderness as an idea that humans are all in a constantly moving path towards nothing. Society has laid out plans of how it should be and is death, and Edna’s, shows it is meaningless. Edna and the Yukon man find themselves struggling for survival. Though the Yukon man fights for his survival much more than Edna does, one still sees a little fight in her throughout the novel as she tried to find where she fit in society. Society tells humans that they are somewhat instinctive. Whether it be as a parent, or in the workplace, or in the wilderness; they have a plan and their human nature is to follow that plan. However, in both stories, they go against this instinct. Chopin describes in The Awakening how Edna is a seemingly horrible mother because she did not want to care for her children, or felt she had any need to. Her motherly instinct was non-existent. When in fact, humans have no instinct; it is an idea that society…