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Essay/Term paper: The theme of isolation in various literature

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The Theme of Isolation in Various Literature

In this essay all of the literature I have chosen will have to do with
isolation. {1} When people have been isolated they don't see other people for
a long time and this can lead to make a person stronger or make them weaker. In
a live and death situation in can give them the extra will to live that you
didn't have before. It can make him stronger and become his ally or it can beat
him. When you are alone it makes you think about things that you never thought
about before and make you work harder at the task at hand.

"Never Cry Wolf" by Farley Mowat, is a plea for understanding and
preservation of the wolf that is being harried into extinction by humanity.
Mowat's philosophy is that it does not pose a threat to other wildlife and, in
fact, is not a danger or a competitor of any consequence to humans.

In 1973, the Canadian government's wildlife service assigned Farley
Mowat to investigate the rumor that hoards of bloodthirsty wolves are
slaughtering the arctic caribou. Mowat is dropped alone on the frozen tundra,
where he begins his mission to live among the howling wolf packs and study their
ways of life. He learned something of their language and how they conveyed
"news" over great distances. He found out the meaning behind the Eskimo saying,
"the wolf keeps the caribou strong." Mowat observed strong family ties among
wolves and he finished his long assignment by having great compassion for them.
And he concluded with the realization that the wolf in fact is very different
from the wolf of a legend.

When the book was published there was no more than 1200 wolves existing.
Compare this to the 2000 the year before. I hope there is still time to prevent
another human error against nature. "the elimination from this planet of a
fellow creature which has at least an equal right to life" {2} I think people
need to look at how we coincide with nature in the future. Only 1200 wolves in
the whole north, at this rate our destiny surely spells disaster. Are there any
circumstances under which people should be permitted to kill wolves? You could
come up with a reason, just as there are circumstances when people should be
permitted to kill other people. The point is that not many reasons are
legitimate. If it is posing a threat to you alright, but don't eradicate the
whole species because of one incidence.

According to a article in the JuneJuly 1987 issue of "Outdoor Canada"
people in the N.W.T. are learning to adapt and work with the wildlife rather
than against it. People are starting to take their environment less for granted.

Isolation, in term of its influence in the novel, remains incredibly
prevalent. I think that if you, the reader, were to focus on how isolation
influenced Mowat's methodology of study, you would recognize how it
inadvertently became his ally. Upon receiving his assignment the "Lupine
Project" we learn about Mowat's interest and love of the study of living animals
in their own habitat. Once assigned to this futile and desolate tundra his task
flourishes with great resolution and interest. Because of extreme isolation,
with very little room for distraction, Mowat communicates new discoveries of the
Canis lupus and through time he reveals that wolves are fellow creatures and
have a equal right to live.

"The Mad Trapper" by Rudy Weibe is an insightful novel that provides the
reader with a excellent three-dimensional picture of the adverse conditions that
are confronted in the northern setting. Many hours of research, writing, and
speculation has resulted from the famous arctic pursuit of the mad trapper by
the R.C.M.P. during the winter of 31 and 32. The attempts to reveal some
understanding of the unorthodox manhunt which still even today remains futile,
have lead Rudy Weibe to provide us with a fascinating perspective on the story

Spike Millen is the leader of the manhunt who undergoes changes as the
novel progresses. He begins as a dedicated competent and helpful law
enforcement officer. There appears to be transition in his character. It
transpires throughout the novel and Spike Millen becomes a man driven in a
compulsive desperate hunt for the mad trapper. Through time Spike dissects the
mad trappers obstinate yet unique character. Spike reveals reveals that the mad
trapper does indeed have an unknown origin, a profound impact on his
surroundings, and an excellent ability to disappear. Upon this revelation he
accepts the ultimate challenge. His inciting force appears to be wrapped in the
glory and stature of accomplishing the ultimate feat; apprehending the mad
trapper. I find it hard to account for the dynamic change, however I do in fact
feel that it ties Spike's occupation and the manner of living that he at the
time engaged in. This was not some taboo to follow a through greuling blizzards
and -40 temperatures, it was his occupation, this was accepted as part of the
job. Through time Spike took his trade beyond the limit. The mad trapper acted
as his nemesis, and the life of a pair of fools ended.

When the mad trapper was isolated it made him stronger and be able to do
feats that no other human had done. He was able to climb over mountains in
blizzards and sleep without shelter in -40. He had found a way to live by
himself and he didn't want to break that pattern.

"Death on the Ice" by Cassie Brown is a compelling reconstruction of the
"Newfoundland" disaster in which 78 sealers died. It tells how the captains of
the sealing ships did not consider the men in their decisions, they were based
on wether they could get seals or not. The men from the newfoundland were sent
across the ice to get to the seals and find their own way to stay outside
without perishing. What they didn't know was that a horrible storm was blowing
there way. As it turned out their ship was not able to catch up with them to
get on board so they had to stay out all night in the blizzard. There was other
ships nearby but they weren't their responsibility, the newfoundlands captain
new what he was doing. There was many decisions that lead to them not being
rescued such as not touting your horn because it wasn't worth the time because
they were probably on another ship anyway.

Most of these men perished when they made a mental decision that they
weren't going to survive. As soon as this decision was made they gave up and
fell to the ice and died. But the survivors they made a decision that they
weren't going to die and they managed to survive till they got help. Some of
their group leaders when faced with the danger didn't know what to do, so their
members had to fend for themselves. When this happened the true leaders came
forward and convinced some people to live. When one of these leaders gave up
the whole group got dejected and lost there sense of hope and died.

"Walk Well, My Brother" by Farley Mowat is set in the year 1951.
Mowat's writing generally carried a romantic attitude toward the native peoples.
This attitude is brought forth, and used extensively throughout this S.S..
Mowat believes that the eskimo can teach the white man not only techniques of
survival but also such moral values as patience, kindliness, and self-sacrifice.

Charles Lavery, the disillusioned protagonist, believed that any
challenge, whether by humans or nature, could be dealt with by good machines in
the hands of skilled men. Charles was an expert pilot, and carried many years
of flying charter jobs in almost every part of the arctic. The monochromatic
wilderness of rock and tundra, snow and ice, existed outside his experience and
comprehension, as did the native people whose world it was.

Lavery, on one of his expeditions, managed to latch onto a deathly ill
woman named Konala. This of course was not out of kindness, instead the walrus
tusks that he was given for the exchange of bringing Konala to the hospital in
Yellowknife. There was a flaw in the plan of action. On the way to the
hospital he lost his twin engines to altitude and crashed. From here on in, the
story becomes a battlefield in which these to individuals encounter a wide array
of obstructions that they are forced to deal with and conquer. Initially Lavery
is extremely pessimistic and indignant towards Konala. He treats her as an
lesser being that is no better than the dirt he walks over. Lavery abandons
Konala in a burning rage, in all likelihood, with very little understanding of
one another does she guess his sole intention. The fact that ten days latter
and nearly 60 miles later to the south of the downed plane, the sick women halts
beside the unconscious body of Charles. Konala nurtures him and through time
brings him back to considerable health. Lavery awakens and instantly a
transition occurs within his character. Lavery views this woman as an equal.
He is very grateful for her perseverance and forgiving personality. Lavery
joins forces with Konala and they continue on there journey for civilization.
As Lavery begins to show sufficient evidence of recovery, Konala begins her
journey into dire straits.

On the eve of her death, Lavery began to nurture her, as she once did.
Finally she handed him a pair of skin boots and spoke, slowly and carefully so
he would be sure to understand. "They are not good boots but they might carry
you to the camps of my people. They might help return to your land...walk well
in them my brother."

Konala from the very beginning was very infirm of purpose, carried iron-
will, and displayed incredible patience. Even when encountering the most
incredibly adverse conditions, she persevered. The conditions that they faced
allowed and brought them to a new level of understanding. Not only did she
discover a new realm of survival, but they also brought two distinct cultures

When Charles was faced with isolation he panicked and did not think
things through and went of on his own without the experienced native. When she
found him her goal was to save him and let him understand. When he awoke he had
a new understanding of her. This gave him the energy to live and persevere over
nature and the obstacles. When she realized this was done she lost her mental
ambition to live so she perished.

In the S.S. "The Furs" Yves Theriault depicts the white mans
exploitation of the native. The trader McTavish has developed a barter system
which favors the trader and not the trapper. The fur company has created a
monopoly because the opposition never lasted long.

On a previous occasion when Agaguk, the native trapper, had been cheated
he took revenge and burned the trader alive in his tent. However on this
occasion he finds solace in alcohol. As a trapper with a oncoming family,
Agaguk must act as support. In order to fulfill this position he must go out
and lay a trapline, gather the furs, and take them to trade or barter.
Consequently Agaguk felt cheated and the credit he was given did not support
their needs. As it was a three week journey to another post it did not seem
feasible so he left home to become a alcoholic. Before Agaguk left he made a
decision that he could not take this isolation and the stress from the growing
needs of his family. So he left them to fend for themselves and he was going to
be a drunk. Quite a concept.

In the "Law of the Yukon" by Robert Service it is set in the gold rush
of the Yukon. It tells about the hard ships that were faced by the men who
toiled for gold under the midnight sun. In the first portion of the poem he
illustrates the type of mentality that was in high demand during the gold rush.
He tells of the people who succeed and how he succeeded in in deducing them both
physically and spiritually. Service elaborates on the people that they have
failed to make the cut and are rejected by the Yukon territory. He illustrates
the frustration involved, those who fatten on the work of others, and the
writers that exploited the rush. He discusses the adverse physical conditions
and isolation that commonly occurred. When these gold miners faced these
adverse conditions they had to be tough mentally so they could stand up to the
isolation they faced while trying to find there fortune. If they weren't tough,
they couldn't take the Yukon and didn't make the cut and died.

In the "The poem of Albert Johnson" by Robert Kroetsch, there is a
feeling of remorse. It is a poem that illustrates the characteristics of the
silent man, dedicated to the mad trapper. Who begins his journey, as a stranger
without a name, and when it ended, he was the most notorious criminal in North
America, the object of the largest manhunt in RCMP history. It is a poem about
a quiet individual who is out of adversary's reach. However he does come back
and bait their self worth and pride. The returning has cost this individual an
overwhelming price, physically. He releases a scream that the energy is after.
But the silent man remains and manages to keep his inner silence. This ties it
back to the mad trapper. When he did not scream in pain he was giving them what
they wanted. His mind was at peace so he was able to control his body and kept
his silence. The isolation had made him stronger and he was able to face it
without wimpering.

In conclusion in all of the above literature selections the protagonist
is in a state of isolation. He can choose to overcome the isolation and become
stronger like the survivors in the newfoundland disaster and Farley Mowat in
Never Cry Wolf, or like Spike or the mad trapper in The Mad Trapper. The people
that made the cut in Law of the Yukon were strong mentally so they were strong
physically. Or you can make the choice too not survive like the 78 dead in
Death on the Ice who lost there moral and died. Agaguk just couldn't take it so
he became a alcoholic. People like Charles in Walk Well my Brother who got
another chance when Konala nursed him back to health were lucky to get another
chance. After she had done this she didn't have something to strive for
mentally so she died.


{1} Webster Universal Dictionary, 1970, p761

{2} Brown Dick "Cry Wolf? Never" Outdoor Canada JuneJuly 1987, p20-24


Weibe Rudy, The Mad Trapper, Canadian Publishers, Toronto 1987

Mowat Farley, Never Cry Wolf, Canadian Publishers, Toronto 1971

Brown Cassie, Death on the Ice, Doubleday Canada, 1974

Service Robert, Songs of a Sourdough, Ernest Bean, 1972


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