Literary Themes and Your Life
Many times in our lives we come to a moment of realization, or an epiphany. They come in many different ways and can affect our lives in an assortment of situations. I was lucky enough to experience one of these moments during this semester after reading a couple of the short stories that we were assigned. The first story was “The End of Labor” by R. James, which I felt a strong connection to through the character of Walt. His story seemed to follow that of my stepfather very closely. The second story that I felt a strong connection to was “The Untold Lie” which portrayed a man named Ray who was at a crossroads in his life. Both of these stories seemed to link to my own life rather easily, but the one I found the strongest connection to was “The End of Labor” due to its relationship to my family and the things I had overlooked for most of life. The title, “The End of Labor”, instantly inserts an image into your mind. Depending on the social class that you are from or the different lifestyle that you live, various images and thoughts might be brought up and these thoughts are exactly what the author is trying to provoke. Within the first two paragraphs James lets us in on what his thoughts are about physical labor, and what we have become as a country within this labor force. He does this by telling the story of Hank, a hard working middle aged man who has bounced around from job to job before landing on one in the logging industry. Before this new job however, Hank worked a construction job where he was reminded many times, and even encouraged to not work as hard. Many excuses were given to him but Hank seems to sum it up perfectly when he says, “He figured they meant if you work this hard they’ll expect all of us to do the same. Some of those guys had put more effort into avoiding work than they would have just doing the job.” (R. James) Hank’s thoughts here give you great insight into what type of person he is, and the type of lifestyle that he was brought up in. They also show a deeper meaning of what the author is trying to get across, that our society now puts so much more energy into avoiding the completion of a task, than we actually use doing one. Walt has worked his way into a job where he can now afford to have much more financial stability through his hard work and dedication. His story follows the path of the American dream, which shows that through hard work and determination almost anything can be accomplished, and by almost anyone. Walt’s story of starting in a manual labor intensive field reminds me a lot of my stepfather, Kurt. He, like Walt, started in his particular field very early and stayed with it for a large portion of his career. Right out of High School with no money to his name, and all he had was an idea for a company that he thought would work out. He started a construction company initially with only one piece of equipment and just himself. I was told of the numerous months, maybe even years that he had been putting in seventy, even eighty hour weeks due to a drive and hard work ethic that I haven’t seen out of anyone else I know. He single handily brought his company to what was probably one of, if not the most profitable business in our town. Instead of simply searching for ways to avoid doing hard work, both men, Walt and my stepdad embraced this lifestyle and found themselves in favorable situations. Growing up with a stepfather who was so driven had its ups and downs. Although I greatly appreciated all of the financial advantages that I received from him, and the happiness that he brought to my mom, we still had our bumps in the road. At times I had trouble respecting his authority over me because he was not my real father and he found it difficult to balance being a father figure, while also knowing that I had another one in my life. This is why I have not really appreciated the things that he has given me in...
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