Service and Readings Analysis
“Theology” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, “Tableau” by Countee Cullen and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley all illustrate different aspects of society – religion, race, appearance - that cause human beings to separate from each other. These aspects have caused century old conflicts and will continue to do so, as shown through the vast difference in years that these three readings were written. The poem “Theology” addresses the separation caused by religion, illustrated through the distaste the speaker has for his neighbors. “Tableau” features the conflict caused by race, through the two boys promenading downtown together. Lastly, the novel Frankenstein illustrates the alienation caused by appearance via the monster’s loneliness. Overall, the three writers illustrate how these three aspects – religion, race, and appearance – cause conflict and separation in society and relationships.
The poem “Theology” by Pau Laurence Dunbar illustrates the separation between the speaker and his neighbors, caused by the reader’s faith. This disunity between the neighbors and the speakers can be seen through the style of the poem. The poem is written in with two stanzas; this illustrates how the poem is written in two parts just like how the speaker and the neighbors have two different religious positions. Moreover, the poem is written in an ABCADC form. By having the pattern not be continuous and symmetrical represents how there is not harmony between the speaker and the neighbor but separation. Additionally, in the poem this detachment between the speaker and neighbors is seen through speaker stating that he will go to heaven, while his neighbors will go to hell because, “If there were not, where would my/neighbors go?” The speaker cynically places an air of superiority on himself, while degrading his neighbors. This further shows the division between the two groups.
“Tableau” written by Countee Cullen exemplifies the racial division in the town through the town peoples’ reaction to the two boys walking down the street together. Even in the way the town reacts there is a sense of division. The lines, “From lowered blinds the black folk stare/And here the fair folk talk” perfectly illustrates this separation. The most obvious separation is seen through the African-Americans and the Caucasians reacting to the boys walking in different locations – one behind closed doors and the other in the open. But also more subtly is the way the two different ethnicities react. The African-Americans do it in silence and just stare, while the Caucasians react by talking about it. The two groups of town people react in completely opposite ways, illustrating the disunity and separation between them. The style of the poem further depicts this separation. The first two stanzas are about the Caucasian boy and African-American boy, who are both enjoying their walk, “Oblivious to look and word”. The middle stanza is the reaction of the towns people to the two boys walking together. The separation of the stanzas in this way correlates directly to the separation and disunity in feelings of ethnicity between the boys and the rest of the town.
The novel, Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley shows the separation appearances can have on relationships through the monster’s lack of companionship due to his hideous exterior. After the monster runs away from Victor Frankenstein’s apartment his is constantly alienated by anyone he meets because of his frightening appearances. This causes a separation between the monster and the rest of society, triggering the monster to desire company. Furthermore, the separation and loneliness is exacerbated by the fact that the one person who the monster could have a relationship with – Victor – would rather the monster was never created.
The sense of separation caused by religion, race, and appearance can be seen in everyday examples. At Acts 4 Youth there is an underlying sense of separation between the African-American boys and the Caucasian Loyola students because of race. The boys grow up in a society and neighborhood that imprints a sense of separation between African-Americans and Caucasians and while this is not always seen, there have been many times that I have noticed the separation while volunteering.