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Defying Society Expectations

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Eric Lee G Block Mrs. Swan AP English Defying Society Expectations Society's expectations often conflict with the views and standpoints of the individuals in these societies. The three novels, Anna Karenina, Catch-22, and The Dark Child illustrate the torture endured by the characters that fight for righteous causes against an enemy of monstrous magnitude - society. The protagonist in each novel helps to present the author's specific criticisms of society. By depicting and emphasizing the plight of each main character, the authors were able to achieve the effect of demonstrating what they considered to be the shortcomings of society. Through their struggles, the three characters develop an "inner good" through demonstrating a defining human quality - the ability to stand for one's beliefs regardless of the obstacles that stand in their way. The double standard that women faced in Russian society is illustrated in the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Rarely in literature does a female character endure as much misery and pain as Anna Karenina. Anna is a depiction of the modern woman trapped in the unfortunate settings of 19th century Russia. Imprisoned in the traditional roles of women, Anna is prevented from living the life she needs to live and loving the man she desires. She does not love her husband, Alexey Alexandrovich Karenin, but is forced under the pressure of society to appear as though she does. ...read more.


"Colonel Cathcart wanted to be a general so desperately he was willing to try anything...he had raised the number of missions to sixty..." (186) His approach in becoming general involves increasing the number of required missions his men are to fly thus making it impossible for his men to fulfill the requirement. Cathcart also volunteers specific men for dangerous missions so as to enhance his squadron's record which in effect boosts his ranking. Cathcart clearly has no value or appreciation for the lives of his men and is only concerned with his own prestige. This theme of loss appears again in the character of Lieutenant Schiesskopf, Yossarian's commanding officer in California. Schiesskopf organizes tiresome Sunday parades for the men in his squadron. He becomes obsessively fond of parades to the point where he sees his men more as puppets than as human beings. "He manipulated boxes of chocolate soldiers until they melted in his hands and then he maneuvered in ranks of twelve a set of plastic cowboys..." (67) He even wants to wire them together so that their movements will be perfectly precise. Yossarian is an individual trapped in a society that has no concern or regard for his life. "Morale was deteriorating and it was all Yossarian's fault. The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them." ...read more.


Laye's mother applies an particularly significant amount of pressure and stress on Laye. This causes Laye to contemplate his decision more thoroughly. "You'll stay right here. Your place is here... What are they thinking about at the school? Do they imagine I'm going to live my whole life apart from my son?" she cried. (184) Laye held his mother in a high regard for her unique and mystical character which "...was due also to the strange powers she possessed." (69) Having a high regard for his mother's wishes and a respect for the village system put Laye in an extremely conflicting situation as he was trying to make his decision to study abroad. Nonetheless, like Anna and Yossarian, Laye did not let society's constrictions decide the outcome of his life. He pursued his ambitions despite defying the wishes of his mothers and the traditions and standards of his society. Anna, Yossarian, and Laye have stories that illustrate the unifying theme of "inner good". These three characters demonstrate and define this premise through their interactions within the societies that they live in. Their struggles define "inner good" as the ability to pursue one's ambitions and aspirations regardless of the obstacles that stand in their way. These characters fought phenomenal battles against resistances of immeasurable proportions - society. In the process of their struggles, they were forced to sacrifice the values of their societies and were forced to rebel against what they were previously made to believe as normal. Though some did not ultimately achieve success, it is their actual efforts that mark their righteousness of their pursuits. ...read more.

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