On Steinbeck's "The Winter of Our Discontent"
There was such a notion in the beginning of the century (that, by the way is adherent to a lot of us now) that “men and women were absolutely incapable of shaping their own destinies. They regarded the individual as ‘a pawn on a chessboard’.”1 And that, in a way, was and remains true. Because circumstances are what plays a significant role in anyone’s life – even so miserable and inessential as Ethan Hawley’s. Who was to blame that he, like a lot of people, was living in a time of great changes, when one pre-war era was changing, and post-war era with its numerous innovations in culture, relations and values was taking its place?! Who was to blame that Ethan, unlike to his contemporaries, was not so easily yielding to fakes and it would be more correctly to say – to things that he had not known till then, that he used to be a man of traditions?!
Ethan Hawley could have easily been called very sensitive, vulnerable and even sentimental man. That is why his life turned into tragedy, for he was not merely able to realize that life was not the same he had been fighting for in the war. And that is why there was a sacred place for him – the Place where he came to when he wanted to be taken to memories of his past. The friend Danny Taylor with his meadow – the alcoholic in present (since he had not also managed to cope with the problem), old Cap’n and Aunt Deborah were the only who he could speak with, but they were dead, including Danny – the Danny of Ethan’s childhood. And it is also possible to find traces of longing for romantics on the part of Ethan. As if the last one of the survivals of the previous epoch, he somehow was not suited at all for living with the people around him and listening to what the time was dictating to do. His world was there, far from his wife and his son’s: “..sitting in the Place, out of the wind, seeing under the guardian lights the tide creep in, black from the dark sky, I wondered whether all men have a Place, or need a Place, or want one and have none.”2 It turned out that that was not needed by the society.…
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