Comparison and Differences of Themes in The Road, Araby and The Open Boat
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Araby is a complex short story written by James Joyce. The story took place in Dublin, Ireland, hometown of Joyce. It was written in 1905 and is based on the experiences of the author while growing up during the late 19th Century in Dublin. The story is about an Irish adolescent boy whose name is never given. The boy is emerging from adolescent fantasies into the harsh realities of his daily life in Ireland. The boy is infatuated with a girl who is referred only as Mangan’s sister. He fails to initiate any conversation with Mangan’s sister but only spies her. However, he is fortunate since Mangan’s sister initiates a conversation with him. She tells him that she could not make to go to Araby because there was a retreat in her convent. He responds by telling her he will go to Araby on her behalf (Clifford & Schilb 596).
The Road is a novel written in 2006 by Cormac McCarthy, an American writer. In McCarthy’s interview with Oprah, he said that the inspiration to write the novel came in 2003 when he and his young son had visited El Paso, Texas. He said he imagined of how Texas City might look like in 50 to 100 years into the future. He imagined of a city consumed with fire and thought about his son. The novel is dedicated to John Francs McCarthy, his son. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of a father and his son trying all they could to survive. Neither the father nor the son is given a name. The father and his son move alone through ravaged landscape of burned America (Graulund 1). The weather is cold enough and it is gray and dark as a result of falling snow. Their destination is to the warmer south and they are not sure what to find there. On their journey, they only have a pistol to defend themselves, a rusting shopping cart of scavenged food, the clothes they are wearing and each other. The father and his son eventually reach warmer south but the situation does not improve. The father succumbs to an illness. Before the father dies, he tells his son that he continue to speak with his father through imagination once he is gone. After the father dies, the boy holds the father’s corpse with no idea of what to do next. Several days after the father dies, the boy encounters a man who tells the boy that he has been tracking them. The man, a husband and father to a girl and a boy convinces the boy to take him under his protection (Graulund 1).
“The Open Boat” is a short story written and published in 1897 by Stephen Crane, an American author. The story is based on the experience of the author while travelling from the coast of Florida to Cuba to work as a newspaper correspondent. The author survived a shipwreck after the ship he was travelling in sank after hitting a sandbar. Crane and three other men had to navigate their way to shore using a small boat. One of the men drowned after the boat overturned. Although The Open Boat is autobiographical in nature, it is a work of fiction (Klein 1). This essay will focus on comparing and contrasting the themes in three works: The Road, Arbay and The Open Boat.
Alienation and Loneliness is a theme in the three works: The Road, Arbay and The Open Boat. In Araby, the narrator, unnamed boy never shares his feelings towards Mangan’s sister with anyone. The boy isolates himself from his family who seem busy in their world and from his friends, whom he regards as young. The boy alienated himself from family and friends when he had feelings and crush concerning Mangan’s sister. The boy never shares his feelings even to his crush, Mangan’s sister who is completely unaware of the boy’s feelings for her. on one rainy day, the boy alienated himself in a dark drawing-room and gave his feelings for Mangan’s sister full release. He pressed his hand palms together as his murmured the word O love! Until the palms trembled (Coulthard 1).
In The Road, the father and son experience alienation and loneliness. An unnamed man and his young son have only themselves after a major unexplained cataclysm destroys most life on earth and civilization. The land they are walking on is devoid of vegetation and living animals. The father and son feel lonely since the remaining human survivors’ resorts to cannibalism. The father and his young son decides to move south on realization of their inability to survive the oncoming winter. On their journey, the walk along empty roads as they carry their meager possessions in a shopping cart. On their way to south, from time to time, the man coughs blood and eventually he realizes he will soon die and leave his son alone. The father advises his son to use the gun when he happens to fall into the hands of cannibals. The man and his son finally reach south, although on arriving south, the man succumbs to an illness and eventually dies. The boy is left alone and holds his father’s corpse for days before a man appears and convinces to take him under his protection (Graulund 1).
In the Open Boat, the theme of alienation and loneliness is not much evident as in The Road and Araby. A ship with cargo suppliers of ammunition, suppliers and 27 men sailed from Florida to Cuba. Less than two miles from the port, the ship struck a sandbar and began to capsize. The men inside the boat were lowered to lifeboats. Crane and three other men were the last to board lifeboats. For a day and half, they tried attempted to land the boat to the beach but before they could land, their boat overturned. The exhausted men were forced to swim to shore but unfortunately one of the men drowned (Klein 1).
Survival and resilience is another theme present in the three works: The Road, Arbay and The Open Boat. In the Open Boat survival and resilience as theme is quite evident. The four men who are last to board the lifeboats fights for their survival in the Atlantic ocean. Three men manage to swim to the shore but one drowns. Resilient people do all to live when faced by life threatening situation. In The Road, post-apocalyptic novel, the main character who is father to a young son invents efforts to help him use the remaining trashed items to survive. The remaining people abandon basic principle of morality and adopt cannibalism to help them stay alive (Klein 1). Most people in The Road choose malicious means of survival by becoming murders. Despite harsh situations that the father and son face, they retain strength of vision and purity of hope that fuel them in their journey across the empty land devoid of vegetation and humans. The hope and spirit of the young son remain resilient despite the gruesome situations he experiences and witnesses. The man too remains resilient despite succumbing to an illness. The father and his son have a moral resilience and strong survival instincts (Graulund 1).
Araby has less of survival and resilience theme compared to The Open Boat and The Road. The unnamed boy in the story is nor resilient to wait to go to Araby bazaar to buy his crush some grand gift. The boy is so much eager to go to Araby to buy Mangan’s sister gifts that will endear him to her. The boy’s aunt and uncle keep the narrator so busy that he will not get a chance to go the Bazaar. Despite distractions that prevent him from going to Bazaar, the boy heads out of the house and leaves to Bazaar in spite of the late hour. The Araby Bazaar market turns out not to fulfill his expectations. He arrives to the market late and finds most stalls closed. The only sound is of coins since men are counting coins they have traded during the day. The boy also encounters vision of his future sexuality. His idealized vision of Mangan’s sister and Araby is destroyed by the conversation of a young woman who is in a conversation with two young men. With anger and shame within him, he leaves bazaar and goes back home (Coulthard, 1).