Love and Death
Love and death are often associated with each other in artistic depictions of human existence. In movies ‘love’ is sometimes said to be the only thing worth living for. In Christian literature death has been prophesized as the release from this hard world and the gateway to a world of ultimate peace and love. Sherwood Anderson in his book Winesburg, Ohio, changes the expected metaphor or connection between death and love.
In both stories Tom Willard plays a minimal part. He does however give an example of the connection between death and love in his own distorted manner. Tom prides himself, falsely, on the notion that he is an important man around town. ...view middle of the document...
Elizabeth’s dreams for her own life have long ago died. Yet she clings to life for the sake of one thought. She is trying to ensure that her son (George Willard) does not become a lifeless thing like herself. This is the basis of their relationship, the “bond of sympathy” as the writer puts it, “based on a girlhood dream that had long ago died” (40).
Elizabeth has infinite amount of love for her son. Not the kind of love most commonly felt by a mother for her son. The love she has is almost bigger than both of them; she loves what she thinks is possible inside the boy. Elizabeth loves this because is reminiscent of the thing she loved most inside herself. She describes the things inside George as something “that was once a part of herself re-created” (40). Her own death, in event, would be like a peaceful release. She would in effect be let go from the reminder of her own inner failure to the “thing” alive in her (40).
What is inside George potentially represents the only thing she ever really loved in her life. The technicality of her own continued existence is the determination to make sure that George does not let this thing die inside himself. Elizabeth’s love for George is only real because she sees that mystical thing inside him. She makes love into a grotesque and selfish wish that is more for herself than her son. This is hinted at when she is pleading with god, she says “I will take any blow that may befall if but this my boy be allowed to express something for the both of us” (40).
In the story death Elizabeth finds a complete release. After the almost love affair with Doctor Reefy, Elizabeth is just waiting to die. She seems content with the idea that death is the only thing that will finally give her peace. She has assured herself that her son will go out into the world and live on the thing that she once lived on. Death is so longed for that she makes it into beautiful physical being that will soothingly let her leave this world behind. She wants death so badly that she instinctively thrusts her hand from “under the covers of her bed” (during a bedridden fit of delirium), expecting her hand to slide into the patient palm of her beloved, death.
Elizabeth Willard is in love with death. Not...