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Harsh Perspectives of Youth in Garland’s The Beach

Harsh Perspectives of Youth in Garland’s The Beach

As his narrator, Garland offers us Richard, a less than balanced individual, in possession of a tenuous grip upon reality. He is arrogant and reckless, often believing himself to have nothing left to learn (“Fucking New Guy? … New to what?” p87) and convinced of his own immortality (“Yea, though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for I am the evilest motherfucker in the valley” p87) The beach is supposed to represent the highest level of escape attainable, but can only be from the outset a disappointment, because it is already built up in his mind into something unobtainable; “It’s silly really. I think I was expecting an . . . ideology or something. A purpose.” p96

Richard being the narrative voice, one can logically infer that it is his perspective which is intended by Garland to be representative of the youth culture depicted. My first impression is that the very fact that Richard commits his story to text is indicative of a desperate need for recognition, and his style of narration suggests that its writing is not likely to be meant as a catharsis. As a character, he is shallow and self-glorifying beyond the point to which readers might sympathise with his reckless actions:

p163 “Collecting … experiences was my primary goal when I first started travelling. I went about it in the same way as a stamp-collector goes about collecting stamps … Then I had to graduate to the more obscure stuff. Being in a riot was something I pursued with a truly obsessive zeal, along with being tear-gassed and hearing gunshots fired in anger.”

The cultural phenomenon of travelling, as distinct from tourism, is one reserved for domination almost exclusively by youth. In Richard’s mind, as in others, it becomes the acquisition of experiences with only slight moral differentiation between them, merely a reinforcement in the mind of the collector of their own broadening life perspective; a form of validation which, whilst owing nothing to established mainstream cultural value systems, replaces these with a generation-created classification hierarchy which is just as strict.

Established value systems provide the catalyst for tensions within the group, which emerge at the earliest stages immediately upon Richard’s arrival: “There’s only five people with Walkmans in the camp, and I’ve refused all of them batteries in the past.

Essay on Common Threads in Yellow Wallpaper and Story of an Hour

Common Threads in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour

In her article “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,'” as it appeared in The Forerunner (1913), Charlotte Perkins Gilman candidly reveals her personal story of mental illness and her subsequent journey to wellness after she rejected the “expert” advice of her physician. She retells the story, with some embellishments, in her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Her own nervous breakdown and prescribed “rest cure,” popular at the time, brought her close to “utter mental ruin.” With some help from a friend, and using what resources were left to her, she began to write again, intending to use this story as a means of saving others from being driven crazy. “The Yellow Wallpaper” was published in May 1892, amid a flurry of rejections and protestations. Nevertheless, her story has been told, and I think there are many women who can relate to what she has experienced, to varying degrees.

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in “A Feminist Reading of Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper'” (818), identify the specialist as S. Weir Mitchell, a famous “nerve specialist” at that time. Gilman was forbidden to write until she was well, which, of course, was worse for her than her postpartum depression. The comparison in the story of “rings and things” in the nursery parallel feelings of being “locked away from creativity,” and the gate at the top of the stairs in her upper story bedroom may be symbolic of her imprisonment.

In her short story, the enforced confinement prescribed by her physician husband brought her to a realization that she was imprisoned not only physically, but also in her mind and in her will. Ultimately he would not dominate her, and she ref…

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… of dramatic irony. No one but the reader knew what heights Louise soared to and what depths of despair she plummeted to. That this story made such a big impact on me in only two pages shows how great a writer Kate Chopin really is.

Works Cited and Consulted

Bender, Bert. Short Story Criticism. Vol. 8. Ed. Thomas Votteler. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991. 64-65.

Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 3rd Ed. Ed. Laurie Kirszner and Stephen Mandell. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1997. 70-72.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wall-paper.” Literature: Reading, Reacting,Writing. 3rd Ed. Ed. Laurie Kirszner and Stephen Mandell.

Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1997. 160-172.

Shumaker, Conrad. Short Story Criticism. Vol. 13. Ed. David Segal. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1993. 164-170

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