Though humans are known as the social beings, very often some individuals feel strangeness and uncertainty even being surrounded by the closest people. Such uncertainty can be a result of numerous social or personal phenomena and events. The short story Solder’s Story by Ernest Hemingway depicts the life of the soldier after returning from war. The war changed Krebs totally and took his soul away. During his being far away from home he did not feel so much uncertain and strange as all the people around were equal with him. They fulfilled orders and did nothing except following their military schedule. The life was dangerous but extremely simple as well. Coming back Krebs thought that he will be a respected hero at home. But the reality of the post-war world was quite another. The native town of a young soldier has already got tired of war and every citizen was bored with the stories about battles and day-to-day routine of the soldiers. Very soon they started to despise Krebs and his half-true stories. “Even his lies were not sensational at the pool room” (Hemingway, 120). Young soldier started to be strange in his native town due to another attitude to life and different behavior. To reinforce the idea of the strangeness of Krebs the author makes use of the contraposition between his fellows, who got married and employed, and the protagonist, who just likes to watch girls but never dares to speak to them as it seems difficult and sufficient for him. Krebs just regretfully remembers the time when he had an affair with the German and French girls. He didn’t need to speak to them much as they still couldn’t get a word from his speech.
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His talk with mother about finding a job also finishes with the insult of mother’s feelings. Krebs says he does not love her, as any other woman. He explains it by his inability to love anymore. Now he feels sympathy only to a book about war. The protagonist constantly reads it remembering the battles he took place and only regrets that the book should have more maps as he could show his whereabouts during the battle. Thus, the author makes use of a metaphor depicting that the hero needs further guidance to understand his military past. The Hemingway’s story depicts a collective image of all the soldiers who got back from the war hoping that they start new life in their homes. The people who passed the horrors of war can hardly return to the peaceful life. The war possesses their souls and changes their minds. The generation of war becomes lost for the society it struggled for.
In the poem Ligeia by Edgar Poe we may see another source of strangeness and foreignness. In contrast to Hemingway, the author makes use of the theme of art and creation instead of war and demolition in Hemingway’s story. The plot of the poem resembles to the Greek myth when sculptor fell in love with the sculpture that he created. Ligeia is the protagonist of the poem. This is a girl who is definitely strange by her beauty knowledge and love to language. The world does not know any other girls who would be such ideal as Ligeia is. Even the narrator cannot remember the time when he first met the girl. “I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady Ligei”. (Poe, 430). The girl composes a poem about the unfairness of her life. It is based upon the theater performance of mimes for angels. The performance is interrupted by the appearance of beast who feeds mimes. The beast is called Man and thus the author makes use of metaphor. The mimes in the poem present lady Ligeia and the beast is the jealousy and ignorance of a mankind. By the poem Ligeia shows the reason for her mysterious death, fatigue of constant attention and incomprehension of other people. Thus, the author makes use of the idea of strangeness of the protagonist as the main reason for her death. The narrator gets married with another woman, Lady Rowena, who also dies in a short time. The narrator is in a deep grief, constantly remembering his first love. Suddenly the inside of his mind finds its realization on a real object. Each time the narrator remembers Ligeia, Lady Rowena comes more and more alike on Ligeia. Finally, the final mental effort of narrator revives corpse and turns it in Ligeia. Therefore, the poem manifests the theme of a danger of being excessively original and the possibility to materialize every wish.
The strangeness of the pure soul in the sinful world is depicted in a poem Delilah by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. The author starts the poem with the depiction of the last way to God. The author makes use of different types of epithets describing the unfortunate sinner who passes his last way. The author also manifests and reinforces the crust of the trip by skillful insertion of the notions like darkness, terror, sin and error which were always associated with hell in people’s minds:
‘In the midnight of darkness and terror,
When I would grope nearer to God,
With my back to a record of error
And the highway of sin I have trod,
There comes to me shapes I would banish –
The shapes of the deeds I have done;
And I pray and I plead till they vanish –
All vanish and leave me, save one”. (Wilcox, 205)
The narrator accomplishes self-denial of that person he used to be on earth and regrets to the one that was the brightest moment of the life, the one which was completely different to the narrator and other people as well:
That one, with a smile like the splendour
Of the sun in the middle-day skies –
That one, with a spell that is tender –
That one with a dream in her eyes –
Cometh close, in her rare southern beauty,
Her languor, her indolent grace;
And my soul turns its back on its duty
To live in the light of her face. (Wilcox, 205)
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Thus, the author makes use of such theme in order to manifest the idea of life transience and the necessity to appreciate every moment of life and the surrounding people till you have the possibility to do it as not to regret anything after passing to another world.
Another type of strangeness is depicted in the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wellpaper which describes the uncertainty of woman’s fate. The protagonist of the story is suffering from medical theories of the time. Due to her post-partum depression she is not allowed to read, write to undertake any physical activity. “To carry out this treatment, the woman’s husband takes her to a country house where she is kept in a former nursery decorated with yellow wallpaper”. (Gilman, 105). The fact that woman was taken away from the society stresses out the theme of strangeness and foreignness of pregnant and post-patron women in America during the Victorian epoch.
One more well-known novel Moby-Dick also comprises the same idea of strangeness, but this time this is about a strangeness and loneliness of being in the society. This paradox is greatly presented on the example ot the crew of Pequod:
At first glance, the Pequod seems like an island of equality and fellowship in the midst of a racist, hierarchically structured world. …The ship’s crew includes men from all corners of the globe and all races who seem to get along harmoniously (Melville, 205).
Thus, the foreigners put together on one ship ought to cooperate with each other in order to get paid. But each of them still remains a stranger, a foreigner. And racism still gains it power on a ship. “Ishmael is initially uneasy upon meeting Queequeg, but he quickly realizes that it is better to have a “sober cannibal than a drunken Christian” for a shipmate” (Melville, 98).
Thus, the strangeness is also reinforced by human attitude to each other and everybody has to decide who is a stranger and who is a real friend. The coreligionist may betray you, but the representative of unknown tribe can save a life. Therefore strangeness and foreignness remains a debatable question.