Research: Charles Dickens and Yellow Brick Road Essay

Submitted By bigpappaturner
Words: 1779
Pages: 8

Through life, we travel down a yellow brick road, oftentimes meeting friends and foe, whilst dreaming of making our way back home. However, unlike Dorothy, or her friends traveling through Oz, our struggles on this journey as pilgrims to our fate cannot usually be solved by clicking our heels together, saying "There's no place like home." Instead, we must find our lost souls and confirm them into a new being, one with a defined name and role. It is much like purgatory, a time in which one cannot give alms to receive redemption, and where one must make decisions. This journey, our quest for confirmation, is much like that of love in that it is difficult yet cannot be forced into existence. It is difficult to say "Then I defy you, stars!" (5.1.24) when our futures appear to be solidly built, with little room for deviance from the precharted course. It also must be accomplished solely as "each man finds out for himself, in his own way, [that] each man is the world" (Saroyan 130). Adolescence is a time during this pilgrimage when many discover where their navigation system is leading them and who they are to be when they reach that place "like a rainbow after the rain" (Hansberry 151).

This pilgrimage is a difficult journey to attempt, and many are afraid of the process or the outcome. As children evolve into adults, there is a loss of innocence. No longer is one able to act in the same manner or perform the same actions; instead, as a body falls further into the more "mature" world, the individual is expected to perform at a higher level and to conform. To lose this innocence is a difficult procedure and often hurts as it leads to loneliness; so many try not to fall over the cliff into adulthood, or bite from the tree of knowledge as the serpent tells them to. After this experience, many people, like Salinger's Holden Caulfield, try to protect others from the experience by dreaming of becoming the "catcher in the rye." Once thrown over the cliff, a whole new world is placed upon a person's shoulders, where one realizes, "I knew a lot of things, but I didn't know the half of it, and maybe I never will either. Maybe nobody ever will. If anybody should, though, I should. I want to know, and I'll always want to know, and I guess I'll always keep trying, but how can you ever know?" (Saroyan 98)

Death, or sudden responsibility, such as being the messenger of ill news, is one way of being forced over the cliff. Gene, in Knowles's A Separate Peace, is forced to recognize himself after Finny's fall from the tree, and later, his death. This shaped his being for eternity because he was "present in every moment of the day..." (Knowles 194) and Gene tried to force himself to become Finny. When Gene comes back to visit the school, he cannot help but let the painful memories of discovering who he is wash over him, like an after shock of an earthquake. Similarly, once Dickens's Estella is finally forced into the real world, with all of its cruel realities, she, like the star she is named for, falls. She loses her essence of character that had previously held such a strong spell over Pip, and degrades herself in his eyes by marrying such a person as Drummle. Lastly, in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice falls down a hole into a "wonder" land where everything is "curiouser and curiouser," (Carroll 8) and where she is able to play around with different sizes in order to determine the one that she would most like to be. At one point, she is also not able to remember her own name: "...who am I? I will remember, if I can! I'm determined to do it!" (Carroll 137) These characters is forced to recognize themselves as they are thrown into a new situation, where they are no longer young innocents, but people responsible for their every action.

When trying to define ourselves and our role in society, adolescents are encouraged to conform to an expected norm. We are told that it takes a village to raise a child, yet in