The Professor’s House and Song of Solomon

The Professor’s House

Literature has always provided man with one of the best avenues for expressing our innate thoughts and desires. By exploring a story along a particular thematic line, it is possible for the author to reveal to the readers the intended message. The effectiveness of a literary work largely depends on the styles and approaches employed by the writer in a bid to present his facts in the most vivid of ways. In The Professor’s House, Willa Cather uses comparison and attachment as the basic motif around which the story revolves. It is perhaps the author’s objective to explore contrasting ideas that she puts the professor’s experiences and the discovery of the cliff and its artifacts into one story. This response shall therefore discuss some of the deduced intentions of the author by applying a comparative approach while exploring the story’s main theme.

A good portion of the plot gives an account of the life and experiences of the Professor. However, it is interesting to note how she brings in several stories within the main story hence offering the reader a profound perspective of the core theme of the story. For instance, the story of Tom Outland comes in as a narrative given from the professor’s point of view hence deviating from the main plot. It basically becomes the central part of the story. The discovery of the cliff and the artifacts comes as another injected narrative which the author includes into the plot in a bid to emphasize the central part of the story. The Professor remembers and acknowledges his liking for Tom Outland who was not only a student and a friend to him but a successful archeologist which discovered the ruins of an ancient cliff.

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The professor’s attachment to his house becomes an obvious aspect right from the beginning of the story. He is not willing to let of his old self even when he has an opportunity to. His unwillingness to let go of history, symbolized by his old house, is an indication of his strong attachment to the past. On the other hand, Tom Outland’s story becomes the central point when it is introduced in the middle section as a narrative by the professor. The narrative does not only explore the life of Outland who after his discovery is killed in World War 1 but equal shows the professor’s attachment to him. This account is so wide that it easily would pass for a story on its own. However, delinking it from the main thematic line of the story would pollute do much harm to the author’s objective to use comparison as a tool of highlighting the theme of attachment. By bringing in the story Outland, the Professor reveals his innate attachment to his student and friend. He has profound memories of him, his family and his achievements. As revealed by Cather, it is the coming of Tom Outland into the professor’s life that revives the later’s passion for his work as it finds him in the process of completing his magnum opus. It is through the professor therefore that the readers know of Tom Outland whose story then reveals to us the aspect of the ancient cliff. The two stories are therefore perfect musings which add more color and meaning to the story’s main theme. This explains why the author chooses to treat them as an entity instead of separating them into independent narrations. 

In addition, it is notable that the discovery of the cliff is as important to the Professor just as his writings are. The author therefore uses the style of flashback to bring out the aspect of comparison as the professor’s remembrance of Tom’s story gives the readers a clear glimpse of the past. The professor’s attachment to his old house brings out the aspect of comparison between history and modernity. The author, through this comparison highlights the inevitable link that exists between the present and the past. The past has a special way of influencing the future hence most of the current experiences in his life are basically as a result of what his past was like. He liked the house, he brought up his family in it,he did and finished his writings in the old house which perhaps serves as the main reason for his unending attachment. In the same way, Tom Outland’s discovery of the artifacts in the ancient cliff emphasizes the author’s comparative description of the past and its influence on modernity. As highlighted by the author, Tom Outland passes the rights to his discovery to his fiancé before he is killed in the war. The rights, referred to as the Outland vacuum does a lot in shaping the living standards of Rosamund, his fiancé. The wealth she is currently soaked in is basically a result of what Tom left for her. The two stories therefore offer more emphasis and clarity to the author’s comparative and descriptive approach in exploring the theme of attachment. The author’s depiction of the professor’s attachment to his house and Tom Outland’s discovery of the ancient cliff therefore paves way for many other contrasting ideas as highlighted by the author. By musing the two stories, the author brings out a comparison between the quixotic and the pragmatic, as well as a contrast between the old and the new. The connection between the two stories serve as a unique literally tool which enables the readers to deduce more about professor’s past and present lives. The contrast between history and the contemporary world is also brought out clearly through the two portions discussed above hence their key role in driving the major themes in the book.

The Song of Solomon

The novel Song of Solomon basically revolves around the life of Milkman whose real name is Macon. The story is majorly an account of the Protagonist’s life, his experiences with the family as well as his conflicts with other individuals around him. The story starts with his birth and ends at the point where he leaps towards the Guitar probably in a bid to avenge the death of his loved one. Just like Will Cather, Toni Morrison merges together the past and the present perspective of different persons in order to drive the core themes in the book. Through the deeper exploration of the inner lives of the personages, the narrator uses their experiences to bring out the core theme. One of the notable themes in the story is the theme of conflict. This is notable in the contrasts between the past and the present through the perspectives of different characters. In addition, the theme of conflict which is majorly enhanced by the experiences of the protagonist is visible in his relationship with the wife and the father. While Macon lives believing that there existed a sexual relationship between the wife and her father, the wife gives a conflicting perspective by noting that she only loved the father. This love through was dangerous as it reached a point of obsession. The varied perspectives in this case therefore serve as major illustrations used by the author to depict the theme of conflict.

In the opening paragraphs of chapter 7, the author introduces the readers to a different form of conflict. While the main stem of the story runs along the aspect of conflict between people, the statements in chapter 7 highlight the conflict between man and nature. According to the author, “Truly landlocked people know they are….but the people living in great lakes region are confused by their place in the country’s edge.” The individuals who live along the lake shores consider themselves as the ones living in the final exit into the outer world. On the other hand, those who live away from the shows, in the land have a different perspective of life owing to the kind of environment that nature has exposed them to. 

The author brings in the passage in the middle of the story hence musing it as a story within another. Despite the fact that the statement might have nothing to do with Macon’s experiences, a deeper analysis of the passage reveals a symbolic depiction of the theme of conflict and separation. For instance, the individuals living by the shore are not satisfied by the surrounding around them hence are constantly seeking for a new experiences. This can be decoded to mean that what nature offers man may not be attractive enough to win their consistent affection to it. The desire for a new experience and a unique environment therefore serves as the main cause of conflict between man and nature. For instance, the author not that once the people have made a discovery about their geographical surroundings, they always pick the urge to explore a different environment. Toni notes that “once the people of the lake region discover this, the longing to leave becomes acute and a break from the area….” The main cause of conflict between two forces can always be attributed to one side of the divide not liking an aspect about the other side. This passage therefore offers the readers a more interesting depiction and description of the conflict and separation that existed between Macon and the wife, Macon and the father in-law as the tainted relationship between him and Guitar. The significance of the passage is consequently evident in its ability to highlight the core theme as depicted by the author. In a nut shell, the conflict between man and nature offers a more unique illustration and emphasis to the main conflict that is mainly between the protagonist and the various individuals mentioned above.

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The two extracts from the two different stories carry a relative amount of similarity. In both cases, the authors muse a story, considerably a minor one, into the main one, with the intention of exploring the core themes in the story described from different perspectives. For instance, by bringing in Tom Outland’s story right at the middle of the main story, the readers are allowed a better understanding of what could be the main reasons behind the professor’s unusual attachment to the old house. The minor story then serves to spice up the main story by offering a different point of view with respect to the theme of attachment. Similarly, the different perspectives that people have about their geographical environments offer a good illustration on the theme of conflict between Macon and his surroundings.

By connecting the professor’s attachment to his house and the story of the discovery of the ancient cliff by Tom, the style of comparative description is eminent. The author’s use of this literally approach is basically meant to give more strength and meaning to the theme.  A similar aspect can be deduced from the passage in The Song of Solomon. The use of contrast and comparative description is evident. The geographical surrounding as for instance the lake region can be treated as a metaphorical representation of the people around Macon with whom he had conflicts. On the other hand, the people inhabiting these regions exhibit characteristics that are comparable to those of the story’s main protagonist. The styles of narration and the use of flashbacks are evident in both cases.

In conclusion, the passages and stories within the main story play an effective role in achieving a constructive digression from the main story without necessarily losing the readers. The literary approach therefore serves to minimize monotony hence grasping the attention of the readers to the very end of the story.

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