October 16, 2013
“Theology” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, “Tableau” by Countee Cullen and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley all focus on different aspects of society; religion, race, and appearance, that cause separation amongst others. Although these pieces of literature were written many years apart, these aspects of separation are still present within society today. These three authors reflect on how these aspects of society, religion, race, and appearance, cause separation and conflict within society.
Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s “Theology” focuses on the speaker and neighbor’s separation due to their religious beliefs. The style of the poem can help the reader understand the difference between the two beliefs; the speaker’s belief being in the first stanza and the neighbor’s beliefs accounted for in the second stanza. This difference in the religious views separate them distinctively, but when the speaker’s states “there is a hell, I’m quite as sure; for pray, If there were not, where would my neighbors go?” he insinuates that he is superior to his neighbors. This disconnection in status makes it hard for the separation between the two viewpoints to ever be brought together.
“Tableau” by Countee Cullen accounts for the separation amongst races. This poem reflects upon the reaction a town has when seeing a black and a white boy walking together, linked in arms. It is expected by society for those of different races to be separate, “And here the fair folk talk, indignant that these two should dare in unison to walk”. When these two boys walk together, they are judged for their behavior as it is expected of them to be separated in society. Not only is there a distinct separation between races being seen together, but also a distinct separation between how the races react to the situation. The African-American’s observe “from lowered blinds” where as the Caucasians “talk” and are more upfront about what is going on within society. These actions and reactions help the reader understand the complete separation that society feels is necessary between races.
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein reflects upon the separation that attraction has and how the monster feels separated from the outside world because of his ugly and unattractive appearance. After Victor Frankenstein’s monster runs away, he is alienated by anyone in which he comes across because of his appearance. Society places a high importance on appearance and the way one looks and as seen in this novel, those who are considered ugly are often times are exiled and separated because of the way they look for it is different than what society expects.
I think that the expectations that society holds for people makes it hard for others to be more open and understanding and often times find it easier to be separated from those who are different from the norm, or what one considers the norm. Being involved in service learning, I have had to force myself to rethink what I consider the norm as I am put into a situation that is much different that one I am use to. When I first came to Loyola I was often times told to be careful of York Road and stay away from it if possible, a way of separating the Loyola community from one that is much different than it’s own. Being involved in service within a school on York Road, I have been able to move past this separating factor and allowing myself to see a new perspective. Tunbridge Elementary School is a much different community than one that I am accustomed to and the school itself does not have as many resources available to them. This opportunity has given me the chance to open my mind to what I have often times taken for granted and realize that separating myself from those who are different than me takes back from life in general. I think that society needs to learn to move past what separates different people in order to create a more united community.