Cormac McCarthy started a trend in American literature following violence and desolation. One of McCarthy’s well known works is The Road written in 2006. His work with dismembering humans depicts an epic but brutal sense of reality. In the The Road McCarthy shifts his focus to post-apocalyptic America and its effects on human psyche. Similar yet very different to The Fall of the House of Usher written by Edgar Allen Poe. The Fall of the House of Usher is one of many short-stories Poe has written that revolves around the theme darkness, gloominess, alienation. In this short-story the house although unrealistic holds very dark powerful powers that haunts the characters with strange symptoms. The Roderick claims strange bodily symptoms and claims that a mental disorder is plaguing him. The only person Roderick socializes with is the unknown narrator. The symptoms the house “gave” him does not allow him to leave the house freely. Being locked inside the house without anyone to socialize with puts a toll on Roderick in the story. The two authors have very different sense of writing and share almost no similarities, yet they put a sense of uncomfortableness and a feeling of uneasiness. All three of the stories carry the theme of being alone in society, and what happens when being alone in society does to people and their psyche.
In another short story I have read written by Elizabeth Bowen, the author creates characters who are isolated, and emotionally stemmed in an existential crises. The Road explores every level of conscience and the lengths we go to, to keep living. McCarthy keeps the readers on toes by peeping into the mind of the characters who are alienated by the misfortunes life brings them. The story beings in an unknown setting, with a man and a son whose names are not told. The Man and the Boy travel south for several months in the coldness. McCarthy does not inform the readers about the reasoning behind the apocalypse such as why it happened, and how it happened. The only information that is given is that the apocalypse has been happening for a very long period of time. The Man has seen people slowly disappearing and never returning again, leaving the world deserted, and quiet. The Man and the Boy have to live by, by basic survival skills, and they must do whatever needs to be done for a hope of a better life.
The Man and the Boy encounter a few individuals during the story. Most of the of characters they come across are brutish as a result of everyone starving and fighting for survival, and it is always cold. The disaster that has caused this dismal setting isn’t named, though there are hints of explosions. However, regardless of the cause, all the cities are destroyed. There are no electricity, operating phones, grocery stories are emptied; and most homes have been abandoned. Almost all of the people are constantly on the move if not already dead. The Man’s goal is to get to the south hoping that there would be warmth, and ocean for water.
McCarthy pushes his lifeless composing considerably further, stripping back every single superfluous expansion to create composition as depressing and forsaken as the world it is depicting. In order to draw in with a world that has lost about everything in an anonymous and unexplained fiasco, McCarthy strips his writing of plain analogy and comparison. His depiction of this new world is meager and bereft of superfluous descriptive words, making a somber and cold condition. ““On the far side of the river valley the road passed through a stark black burn. Charred and limbless trunks of trees stretching away on every side. Ash moving over the road and the sagging hands of blind wire strung from the blackened light poles whining thinly in the wind. A burned house in a clearing and beyond that a reach of meadowlands stark and gray and a raw red mudbank where roadworks lay abandoned. Farther along were billboards advertising motel.” This passage represents like the rest of the novel, an environment that is recognizable as America but unimaginable. He presents images of open fields, and open prairies with absolutely nothing but never ending land. By showing us images of this land it is symbolizes a space of uncertainty and distrust The land with nothing signifies agricultural stability, loss of comfort, loss of industry and economy.
The Fall of the House of Usher is an example of isolation because the extreme isolation in the two characters Roderick and Madeline creates a supernatural aura around the House. The supernatural aura makes it seem like the Ushers and the House are connected together in a way. This story explores a family isolated from the world that they have developed their own supernatural barriers to interact with the ‘forces.’ The House of Usher exists in their own reality, ruled by the House’s rules, and not taking consideration of others. By living under the House’s rules and circumstances the family members that reside feel an unexplainable force of closeness to each other that is unexplainable to strangers. A proof that the House is isolated from the society is “The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within.”