Critical Reflection on Readings

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A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud AND Homage to the San Francisco YMCA

A tree, a rock, a cloud by Carson McCullers, and Homage to the San Francisco YMCA by Richard Brautigan both deal with the universal theme of love and loneliness in new and interesting ways. A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud deals with love and loneliness interchangeably. It shows an old man recounting his days of many years ago. He speaks of how he was lonely and that whilst he could appreciate things, he was still always left with an empty and ‘loose’ feeling inside. This was until he found love. He describes it as “All I had ever felt was gathered together around this woman. Nothing lay around loose in me any more but was finished up by her”. The piece is written as a short story and is written in third person and is present tense, with the old man often speaking of the past. I would place this short story by Carson McCullers in the romance genre based on its main themes, however it doesn’t read like a typical romance. It seems to be a more cautionary tale as a whole. It speaks of heartbreak and loneliness and one man’s struggle at finding love. The beginnings of the story make you feel awkward when reading about the man, you feel sorry for the young boy who has been somewhat trapped by the man in the café and feel as though you are judging him along with Leo, the owner. The overall theme of love and loneliness is amplified through the use of direct conversation in the piece. It is through the conversation that we learn the story or the lonely man, but through the description and imagery of his actions we see that his loneliness is still with him even though he ‘loves’ everything. Homage to the San Francisco YMCA however deals with love and loneliness in a different way. It tackles love as more of an abstract idea – you are in love with an idea rather than a person. The man in the story is in love and somewhat obsessed with poetry. He wishes to replace necessities in his life (the plumbing in his house)...
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