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Insanity in "The Mosquito Coast" by Paul Theroux

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Ron Burgundy T. Jackson ENG3U December 12, 2011 Insanity & It?s Living Conditions What truly makes a person go insane? It could be a gradual change or a sudden event. Both of these could be either subtle or obvious. In The Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux explores these possibilities and seemingly creates new ideas as to why a human may lose their sanity. If someone?s living environment consistently changes for the worse, their level of desperation and insanity will do the same. How much a person denies this can be dependent on how harsh these conditions are. When a person comes to the realization of how bad their current situations are, their states of mind only become weaker. A person?s slip from sanity to insanity is represented by their decreasing standard of living. If the situations and environment around a person become constantly worse, their levels of desperation will reach the point of insanity. Allie Fox?s dream home in Jeronimo is ruined when misfortune after misfortune occurs, turning it into a terrible place to live. Allie?s desperation to solve even minor problems such as a few soldiers resting in the village, reaches the point of insanity. In an attempt to be rid of these troops, Allie mentally snaps and plans to blow them up, explaining to his son Charlie that, ??[s]omebody lit a fire here ? and I told them not to?? despite himself being the one to do so (Theroux 250). ...read more.


It shows that if a person?s living environments become worse consistently enough, their points of insanity and desperation will follow suit. A person may not always admit this however. One may deny their insanity depending on how rough their living conditions are. After leading a terrible expedition to bring ice to local natives around the Mosquito Coast, Allie returns to Jeronimo to find most of its residents missing. It is revealed by his wife to him that they left with a missionary they had confronted earlier. Allie does not seem to care though, and merely remarks, ??[t]hey?ll be back, as sure as anything. Because this is a happy place, and the world isn?t?? (Theroux 230). Jeronimo is in terrible condition having its resources thinned by the failed expedition and lacking in many residents. The other natives have left to go somewhere with better living standards because of this, and most of the Fox family agrees with this notion. Allie on the other hand, simply denies this claiming that Jeronimo is ?a happy place? despite it clearly not living up to these claims. After risking the lives of his family members yet again by blowing up Jeronimo, Allie once more resorts to denying that he had any involvement with how their home had become even worse. ...read more.


Unfortunately this does not bode well for the group who are pushed even harder only to fail by the now mentally weakened Allie. Even when he comes to grip with reality and silently acknowledges his terrible state, it only proves to cause him to further lose his sanity. Allie also admits that he may be the problem with the family?s terrible living conditions as well. ??And I deserved it. Toxic substances ? this is no place for them. I?ll never work with poisons again, and no more flammable gas?? Allie explains as to why Jeronimo is in the state it is (Theroux 261). Here, Allie not only acknowledges the current situation that Jeronimo is in, but he admits that he is the problem. Unfortunately this does not bode well for the rest of the family, as Allie?s mental condition worsens and he forces them into more hazardous living environments because of this. Mere examples of how a person?s mental state can become even worse when they realize how terrible their standards of living truly are. A human?s fall from being sane to insane is represented by their decreasing living conditions. When someone?s standard of living time and again becomes worse, their state of desperation and insanity will do the same. How much a person is affected by denial is dependent on how harsh their living conditions are. When a person does realize how pitiful their current environment is, their mental state only becomes worse. ...read more.

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