Modernism A Tree A Rock A Cloud
In the modern story of A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud by Carson McCullers has a sense of isolation. Isolation is best described as a psychological defense mechanism consisting of the separating of ideas or memories from the emotions connected with them. Anthropology, or the scientific study of the origin, behavior, and physical, social, and cultural development of humans, plays a huge part in creating in the work the sense of isolation. The three characters all displayed a sense of isolation in the work.First, the paper boy displayed isolation when he walked into the bar.
He expected the men to speak with him first. The story pointed out that "as he drank his coffee someone would speak to him in a friendly way. But this morning Leo did not look into his face and none of the men were talking." He isolated himself by not going outside of his social norm and speaking with one of the men first. The paper boy also tried to isolate himself from the man drinking the beer.
When the man spoke to the boy he was uneasy and kept looking at Leo and the people he was familiar with for some clue to hint to him what to do and how to react with the stranger who was not in his normal social environment. The paper boy "scowled and sidled away, did not know what to do. He looked over the counter at Leo, and Leo watched him with a weary, brittle jeer." The story gives another example of the boy's attempt to seek the familiarity of the men and isolate from the stranger when he "questioned the men along the counter to see what he should do." He tries to display his isolation more abruptly from the man by trying to "laugh also" with the familiar men. The man picked up the obvious gesture of isolation because he made a point to tell the boy that he "did not mean to tease you, Son."Next, Leo displays isolation in several ways at the bar. Leo does not speak to the boy or anyone when the boy walks in the bar.
The story says that when the child walked in that "none of the men were talking." Leo starts out listening to the man speak to the boy without saying anything but after listening he makes a few snide comments such as calling the man's estranged wife a "floozie." He tries to isolate himself from the older man by being vulgar toward the man and making a point to interrupt his story so that the boy would think twice about what the man was saying and not fall into his story so easily. Leo isolated himself from the social norm by ignoring the paper boy when he asked Leo if the man "was he crazy? Do you think he was a lunatic?" This was apparent because the boy had even called Leo's name as a clarification of whether he had been ignoring him or just not paying attention. Leo believed that he was a critic of the crazy people after running a night café for fourteen years.
The work even made a point to say that Leo "did not want to satisfy the questions of the waiting child. He tightened his pale face and was silent." I think he isolated himself and his opinions from the boy because he knew the boy thought highly of his opinions and he didn't want to influence the boy's opinion of the man more than he already had during the entire conversation with his remarks.Finally, the man who was drinking the beer was isolated. In the beginning of the story when the boy walked in the bar he found "in a corner a man who sat hunched over with his nose and half his face down a beer mug." The man was physically isolated from the others by sitting in the corner and he made no attempt to talk to anyone except the boy eventually. He stays engulfed in his beer with certain sadness to him. He tried to bring the boy into his isolation by asking him to sit with him so they could talk about something important.
He also tries to cast out everyone else by ignoring them during his conversation with the boy. He makes a point to tell the boy " let's not pay any attention to him." The man also is isolated emotionally because he attempts to love inanimate objects to keep himself from being hurt by loving another human being. He tells the boy a story of being in love with a woman and being hurt by finding out that she ran off with another man and took everything after he thought their marriage was doing well and the story led up to the whole idea of love being a science and to start loving small instead of big so that you can be prepared if you get hurt by loving the big things. You can tell that he was trying to avoid the subject of being hurt by ignoring the boy when he asked if he ever found her and if he tried to make her come back home. The man's idea that love is a science also isolated him from the other people.
Everyman else did not agree with the man's theory and pushed the issue by calling the man a "draggle-tailed old Romeo." Leo made that comment with anger in his voice which supports the idea that he didn't agree and was fed up with the man's idea of love. By calling him a "draggle-tailed Romeo" Leo was basically saying that he was a dreamer and delusional.In conclusion, the behaviors of the characters support the sense of isolation in the story. The characters displayed emotional, social, and physical attributes that isolated them from one or many of the other characters in the work whether it be the old man from everyone or the boy from the old man or Leo from the boy.
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