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Published: 09-10-2019

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The recurring theme of a journey in American literature works

The journey motif is one of the most widely utilized components in American literature. The journey is a powerful symbol frequently employed to represent a character’s adventure major to an epiphany, or some sort of self-realization. This literary device can be applied in the background, operating invisibly alongside the plot, or it can comprise the entirety of the plot itself so that all of the character’s experiences are centered on the journey. There are a quantity of American operates and writers spanning centuries that have applied this device to their characters. Three literary performs, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, use the journey motif to illustrate the mental and physical challenges and tribulations that the characters have to encounter. Nevertheless, though all of these novels use a journey, the variety of journey utilised is very varied.

The journey is utilised to represent a mental or physical challenge, typically daunting, that the characters in question should undertake as a component of their enlightenment integral to their character improvement. Typically, journeys represent one thing lacking inside the lives of the protagonists, so they leave their existing predicaments in order to locate the lacking piece of their character. Journeys can be literal, such as those in The Road and in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or introspective, such as the journey in To Kill a Mockingbird. The physical journeys are as recommended by their genre: the character(s) should literally move from 1 location to another, regardless of location. Nevertheless, it is not the literal act of moving via which the journey motif exerts its symbolic significance. Rather, the journey includes passage by means of unfamiliar regions, and the characters must face and solve issues and hardships encountered along the way. It is these attributes of a physical journey that culture a dynamic character by causing the characters to comprehend, by way of introspection spurred by the hardships encountered during the journey, an element either hidden or unrealized within themselves or in those around them.

In The Road, as the title implies, the protagonists, named “The Man” and “The Boy,” follow a path from the United States down to the ambiguous “south” (McCarthy 7) following an unspecified cataclysm devastates modern society and leaves these characters ostensibly among the couple of survivors on the planet. Even so, the sudden and apocalyptic reduction in population does not shield them from the prospect of danger, for there are nomadic groups of cannibals roaming the scorched land. The Man and The Boy have to constantly work to defend themselves from these groups even though at the same time foraging for meals and resources to refill the dwindling supplies in their purchasing cart (McCarthy 3). The reason for their physical journey is obvious: they lack security in their present situation, and though their situation seems hopeless no matter where they go, they hope that they can discover refuge and safety by searching for it. In this case, the author makes no note or hint about a location, indicating that a journey does not necessarily need to have to have a definitive finish. Rather, it can be seen as an ongoing process.

In addition to the search for safety and the need to have to survive, one particular of the protagonists, The Boy, who seems to be no older than a pre-adolescent is faced with the imminent death of his father, who chronically coughs up blood. Simply because the boy has by no means recognized independence, he, primarily, faces a “second” journey on leading of the metaphysical journey experienced by both characters. To The Boy, it is the journey to accountable manhood, getting capable to offer for and survive by himself, anything he has not had to do due to the fact of the presence of his father. Each have to understand their correct position in this reformed society (or the absence of it). The father now understands that no matter how a lot he desires his son to survive, his goal is to maintain his son alive as extended as achievable, with the slim hope that he will be able to survive and, presumably, procreate. Nonetheless, the son’s objective is to reach independence, and the life-or-death experiences faced by these characters merely serve to develop his independence. In this sense, The Road can also been seen as a quasi-Bildungsroman, a genre involving a young protagonist who experiences psychological and moral development all through the story. The Boy, who is fearful and fawning at the beginning, gradually starts to exert his independence, as exhibited by way of specific actions of rebellion against his father. For example, when his father wishes to enter an abandoned house in search of resources, The Boy refuses to enter, citing it as unsafe (McCarthy 13). It is also made identified that the boy is silently conscious of his father’s illness (McCarthy 28), meaning that he has gradually learned to accept the reality that his father will not usually be around to defend and provide for him. By the novel’s end, when the boy’s father dies, the boy fearlessly faces a stranger with his household and, presumably, follows them into security.

The Road ideally embodies a quote by the novelist Don Williams Jr., who mentioned, “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the identical. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the location.” In the characters of The Road, the lessons of survival, epiphany, and growth stem solely from the dangers that are knowledgeable along the journey, by no means from the destination. The location, in truth, is unmentioned, additional emphasizing the author’s desire for perpetually creating self-enlightenment.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an additional function in which a physical journey motif is utilized. Even so, as opposed to the morose, barren journey for carnal survival as undertaken in The Road, Huck Finn tells the story of an escaped slave and a naïve yet independent young boy on their road to freedom. This freedom is distinct for each character: the slave, Jim, hopes to attain freedom from his slave status by escaping north, even though the boy, Huck, hopes to attain freedom from the decorum of civilized society (Twain 32). In a sense, both characters lack freedom in their positions at the starting of the novel, and they set off to achieve it no matter the hardships. However, regardless of the absence of cannibals as in The Road, Huck and Jim’s journey brings upon them a distinct set of problems, such as being held “hostage” by two quacks (Twain 122), having to life a double life when they stumble upon communities (Twain 145), and escaping recapture (at least for Jim) when they uncover that their journey to freedom has taken a wrong turn. In this metaphorical journey, Huck’s story embodies a Bildungsroman, and he is the far more dynamic character of the duo. He transforms from a naïve young boy to a slightly far more mature, discovered young boy, possessing seen the correct colors of discrimination and possessing discovered about the nature of people from the a variety of feuds and plans that snake through the slave-holding neighborhood. For instance, just before embarking on this journey, Huck maintains the classic viewpoint that Blacks were to be subservient to Whites and that they have been nothing far more than cattle in human flesh. Even so, midway by means of their journey, Huck learns that Jim, though a slave, is a human like Huck himself, and he even accepts condemnation to Hell for refusing to turn him in (Twain 205). This realization marks one of the most profound turning points in the novel. Despite the epiphanies that Huck himself experiences, his travel partner, Jim, remains reasonably static, clinging to his beliefs from the starting of the story and maybe only understanding that not all Whites are bad by way of Huck’s kindness.

A figurative journey, on the other hand, does not demand an actual movement from a single region to one more, though it does not necessarily exclude 1. Nevertheless, characters who embark on such a journey are far from idle, as they should face a fluid, active, and typically potent society that influences and attempts to mold them. It is this process of being molded that constitutes the hardships that are faced along a figurative journey. One of the archetypal figurative journeys is utilized in the novel set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird, in which the protagonists, Jean Louis Finch (“Scout”) and Jeremy Finch, two young young children, experience the correct colors of society and are forced to face the miseries of maturity beyond their years. At the beginning of the story, the readers understand that their father, Atticus, is a prominent lawyer in the town, and that he has chosen to defend a Black man, Jim, in their discriminatory society (Lee 18). Because of this, Jem and Scout turn out to be the subject of scorn from several of the town’s characters. Jem is also slammed with a dual lesson of death and courage via his forced neighborhood service to Mrs. Dubose, a cranky morphine addict (Lee 103).

Of the two, Jem seems to be the most impacted by the psychological journey that the two protagonists embark on. In the course of the actual trial, although it is clear that Atticus has produced a strong defense and discredited Jim’s accusers a number of times (Lee 205), Jim is still identified guilty and is later shot even though attempting to escape (Lee 212). Jem is shattered during this ordeal, and his faith in each the utopian society that he had believed in throughout his years of naivety and the legal program is compromised. Both he and Scout discover that the globe is certainly not an excellent place and that stigma can play a large part in determining elements as massive as life or death. Though it seems that Jem treks along the journey quicker than Scout, by the end of the novel, Scout seems to have truly learned a lot more than Jem. The father of girl who had accused Jim of raping her is bitter about his defeat, and close to the finish of the novel, he attempts to kill Scout and Jem as they are walking house. Nonetheless, they are saved by the prompt appearance of Boo Radley, a hermit, about whom Jem and his buddies have perpetually spread gruesome rumors, attempting to lure him out of hiding. Scout, even so, swiftly learns that what Jem was carrying out was inconsiderate, and she even tends to make an really sharp conjecture about Boo’s need to remain hidden. During the ordeals of the trial, Scout says that maybe Boo does not want to leave his house due to the fact of how poisonous the outside society is (Lee 231). When Boo saves Scout and Jem, Jem is left unconscious, but Scout finally sees Boo as a actual, breathing, sort individual, not the monster that her brother and his pals have asserted him to be (Lee 271).

By the end, although both Scout and Jem adhere to a path to the identical location, maturity, both take a different route and experience different events along the way. Jem approaches his destination via enduring and facing the corrupting miasma of a discriminatory, racist society and how society’s judgment can influence people’s lives. Scout approaches her location by way of learning of people’s correct colors, culminating with her amiable connection with Boo at the conclusion of the novel.

The journey is widely employed not only in American literature but in literary functions that span the history of fiction. As demonstrated in The Road, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the journey is employed to demonstrate a certain self-realization or epiphany gained through experiencing daunting hardships or difficulties faced along the way, forcing the characters to reexamine their positions in their surroundings by means of introspection. In this sense, the journey is a single of the most efficient examples of symbolism in conveying such a motif.

Works Cited

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1960. Print.

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Collector’s Library, 1912. Print.
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