In accordance with the writings of Hugh H. Paschal, "Idea is often equated to theme, the central meaning of a literary work" (67). To reiterate, it may be said that idea is the central objective thought the author is attempting to impress upon his reader through his writings.
The importance of idea in literature lies in the fact that usually it goes beyond a single statement such as might be found in an essay to include many provocative insights into a diverse number of areas.... It is not unusual for a single literary work to present simultaneously ideas in several categories dealing with various subjects. (Paschal 70)
Idea is often connected to the formation of new social movements. This in itself might be regarded as a potential cause of social change. Being that "Ideas are one of the things that distinguish serious literature from the everyday variety" (Paschal 86), it can be said that idea in literature is a harbinger of social revolution. To illustrate this point, one may examine the idea put forth in Ring Lardner's "Haircut"; that being, when a man loses his sense of human perception and feeling, playing brutal jokes as a way of inflating his own ego, he will be caught in the destructive consequences of a joke whose destructive nature for other people he could have never understood or cared about (Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren 145).Of the numerous choices of manifesting that idea, Lardner employs the use of direct first person statement through the character of Whitey,It is he who tells about Jim's relationship troubles and failure as a provider to his family (Paschal 203). Next, Lardner uses the actions of his character, Jim, to depict this idea, by having him send postcards to random people in the hopes of bringing about at least a small amount of stress to their lives. Finally, Lardner uses the episode of Jim's seeking revenge on Julie Gregg by preying on her affections for Doc Stair to develop this theme... [continues]
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