Comparing Loss of Self in Soldiers Home, Paul's Case, and Bartleby
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Loss of Self in Hemingway's Soldiers Home, Cather's Paul's Case, and Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener
Hemingway's "Soldiers Home," Cather's "Paul's Case," and Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" all present a loss of self. These stories prove that there is a fine line between finding one's self and losing one's self. I believe this loss can occur at any age or station of life. This idea is seen in each story's main character.
Hemingway's "Soldier's Home" depicts a young man in his early twenties after his return from World War I. The young man, Krebs, has arrived home too late. Thus, he doesn't receive the adulation of the town as the others did. This first loss was the beginning of a long inward journey for Krebs. His…show more content… Due to his situation Krebs is forced to run away to Kansas City. His only refuge is the hope of starting fresh and possibly being able to find himself.
"Paul's Case", by Cather, is a story in which Paul, an adolescent, is trying to find himself. Unlike Hemingway, Cather exposes the influence of a stable but cold environment to be detrimental to one's well being. Paul's dilemma begins with school, a place he is not fond of. His teachers have a strong disliking of Paul. This is seen at his readmittance inquiry "… they fell upon him without mercy, his English teacher leading the pack" (161). Paul's inner struggle is recognized by only one teacher, the drawing master. "The drawing master had come to realize that, in looking at Paul, one saw only his white teeth and forced animation of his eyes" (162). He also noted the time Paul had fallen asleep in class, "what a white, blue veined face it was; drawn and wrinkled like an old man's about the eyes, lips twitching even in his sleep" (162). This observation clues us that Paul is not a happy-go-lucky teenager; there is an inner battle going on.
Paul's true desire is seen in the theater when he sits to watch the symphony: "the first sigh of the instruments seem to free some hilarious and potent spirit within him; something that struggled there like the Genius in the bottle found by the Arab fisherman. He felt a sudden zest for life. ." (164). After the concert Paul's demeanor changes; he regretfully