Essay Relating Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem to Yeats' the Second Coming

Topics: William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming, Ezra Pound Pages: 4 (1295 words) Published: August 1, 2013
The time period following World War I and the 1960s were eras of chaos and rebellion in the modern era. World War I, as well as the years following it was a major period of conflict when murderous acts were committed. The sixties was also a chaotic time period due to the new ways in which teenagers were rebelling, as well as other conflicts, such as the Vietnam War. Many writers took note of these societal adjustments. Joan Didion and William Butler Yeats, for example, both wrote about their reactions to the undergoing transformations occurring in the world. As a result of the chaotic time periods they were written in response to, Joan Didion's collection of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Yeats’s poem, “The Second Coming” share many themes including miscommunication, the loss of innocence, and change for the worse.

One common theme between the two pieces is the miscommunication between those in need of guidance and those who are able to assist them. This issue can be seen in Yeats’s poem’s first stanza: “The falcon cannot hear the falconer” (Yeats Line 2). The significance of this metaphor is that those in need of a helping hand, the falcon, are not listening to those attempting to give it to them, the falconer. This issue is also addressed through dialogue in Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Didion interviews some of America’s runaway youth that had settled in San Francisco, many of whom were ingesting illegal substances severely detrimental to their health. These adolescents would not pay attention to their parents’ rules and expectations, and as a result, they fled from their loved ones. Didion encounters a couple, Debbie and Jeff, who have run away from home. Didion asks why the couple ran away. Debbie replies, “My Parents said I had to go to church, and they wouldn’t let me dress the way I wanted” (Didion 91). Jeff says: “My mother was just a genuine all-American bitch” (Didion 91), which signifies the couple’s true rebellious attitudes...

Cited: Didion, Joan. Slouching towards Bethlehem. Pbk. ed. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. Print.
Keanes, Patrick J. "Eternal Recurrence: Things Fall Apart." Salmagundi Fall 2012: 37-60. Rpt. in Salmagundi. N.p.: n.p.,
n.d. N. pag. Print.
Yeats, William Butler. "The Second Coming." 1919. The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. N.p.: n.p., 1989. N. pag. Print.
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