Monday, March 21, 2011

Facing Reality

This week we read four poems by Emily Dickinson and one short story by Ernest Hemingway. The poems are “Tell all the truth but tell it slant—,“ “Success is Counted Sweetest—,“”I heard a Fly buzz—when I died,” “Because I could not stop for Death—,“ and the short story is “Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” All of these works talk of how humans have difficulty in facing the truth of their existence and desires.

“Success is Counted Sweetest,” says that the winner may not always have the sweetest of success. In fact, it is usually the loser and defeated who longs for it the most. Emily Dickinson describes that failures in life, lack of success, is what makes the actual success so sweet the lack of something to let it be found. Humanity has a tendency to desire what escapes it.

In the poem, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” Dickinson suggests that the best way to tell the truth is to tell it bit by bit. The truth is a blinding light, and if it is revealed all at once, then it may blind the person. We aren’t strong enough to face the truth of our realities, so they need to be discovered slowly throughout our lives.

The process of discovering the truth can be a long one. It can be very hard and sometimes distractions provide relief. The poem “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died, discusses the speaker’s thoughts as she dies. They are interrupted by the sound of a fly buzzing around. Even as one dies, distractions provide relief from reality.

The last poem, “Because I could not stop for Death,” shows humanities preoccupation. We are caught up in the business in our lives, that we cannot even stop for the end of our lives. Instead death must come and stop us.

The short story “Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” describes a couple’s refusal to face the deceit in their relationship. The wife has several affairs in order to feel control over her husband. When he comes of age and begins to act more like a man, his wife feels threatened by his true nature. In the end she feels so threatened, she shoots him when “aiming” for a buffalo.

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