In Tim OBriens The Things They Carried, it is a collection of short stories that are autobiographical in nature. It recounts his experiences in the Vietnam War and how he struggled to fight the feeling of isolation after returning home from the war. Instead of forgetting the occurrences during the Vietnam War, OBrien faced to confront the ghosts of his terrible experiences during the war. His life is caught up in the web of his past experiences as he seeks solace to get rid of his unfavorable traumas that haunt him after the extreme experiences he encountered in Vietnam.
He still feels the chaos even it is thirty years later. The writer does not seek an end, but wanted some resolution. He wanted to get rid of denial, but his memory of the terrible experiences still traumatizes him greatly. The novel exemplifies the isolation brought about by the unfavorable experiences that a person had undergone in his past. It shows that it is through commiseration and understanding that a person can fully recover from a very bad experience in his or her past.
In this way, the isolation he or she feels would stop haunting him or her in the future and resolve all the negative thoughts that remind the person of that bitter past. In Richard Rodrigues Aria, it tells of a story of how a person who has a Mexican lineage struggled to familiarize and reconcile the language barrier after his family decided to settle in the United States. Being unfamiliar with the English language, young Richard needed to go through a bilingual dilemma. The teachers in school forced him to be adept in the English language, while at home his family speaks Spanish.
The young child experiences being isolated because he feels different among the children in the school. Why would he have to learn English when he Spanish is the language he is familiar with? Richard felt that he is compelled to go through the rigors of learning the two languages because his family chose to live in America where English is the language of instruction. The main character feels that his situation promoted his feeling of isolation among the rest because of his language and his culture which is unique to most students in his class.
On the other hand, how does it feel like when a person is taken for someone that hes not? Worse, what if most people fear a person because they mistake him as a bloodthirsty criminal just because of his skin color? This is essentially the theme of Brent Staples Just Walk On By where he lamented about being discriminated by white people. He described in this book the realization that he was perceived as frightening, particularly to Caucasians, merely because he was African American.
Staples wrote that he was in graduate school at the University of Chicago when he first the fearful glances and avoidance of White pedestrians as he walked through the streets of Hyde Park: I was indistinguishable from the muggers who occasionally seeped into the area from the surrounding ghetto. The situation where he is in is the saddest part of being isolated because it resulted in his physical appearance. Although negative stereotypes of African Americans are diverse and pervasive, Staples experience reflected the persistent and strongly held stereotype of African Americans as dangerous criminals.
Worse, the stereotypes often escalate to violence against minorities lead to race-based traumatic stress that arises from exposure to racial discrimination, racial harassment, or discriminatory harassment. These are usually emotionally painful, sudden, and uncontrollable, where minorities would manifest anxiety, anger, rage, depression, compromised self-esteem, shame, and guilt. Readers can all see these emotions rambling in Staples essay as he recounted his experiences of being always mistaken as a criminal.
Even though hes already a professional journalist, he still is not being spared from the discriminating eyes of the White people around him. Thus, readers can commiserate with the numerous instances that Staples mentioned and by that he makes veritable logical arguments in his essay. Ultimately, the feeling of isolation can never be good because it promotes the feeling of indifference among people who are different from us. In reading through the three works, we can feel the suffering and struggles of these people to fight the negative consequences of isolation.
In the end, if we are sensitive about the feeling of isolation, people will learn to respect each other and be aware of the ill effects of isolation. It all boils down to mutual respect for each one, then maybe the American communities will be a safer and better place to live in, despite of the diversity of its people.
References Dictionary of Psychology. (2006). Isolation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. OBrien, T. (1990). The Things They Carried. New York: Broadway Books. Rorigues, R. Aria. Staples, B. Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space.