Invitation to a Beheading

Topics: Capital punishment Pages: 3 (1233 words) Published: March 23, 2009
Invitation to a Beheading: Cincinnatus’s Conformity

Invitation to a Beheading, examines the real world theme of conformity. Cincinnatus is charged with the crime of being different. His shyness puts people off because he is always thinking about deeper issues. His failure to assimilate into society is what makes him become a prisoner.

Nabokov explores the idea of conformity by the imprisonment of Cincinnatus. The story takes place in the prison cell and hardly ever moves away from the vicinity. The imprisonment is meant to force Cicinnatus into conforming to society, but he does not know what he has done. For example, “Tell them that you’re innocent […] repent, do it, even if it doesn’t save your head, think of me-already they are pointing fingers at me […] ‘Wait Marthe, I don’t understand. Repent of what?’” (200). His wife, Marthe, at the second meeting, begs him to repent so that she may not seem like an accessory to his crime. However, Cincinnatus does not know what he has done, therefore he does not know what it is he has to repent. His gnostical turpitude does not harm or injure any one and socially; it does not seem to be something people are trying to get rid of or hunt down. The reason for his punishment is because he is different and sees the world in a different light.

Cincinnatus lives in his own imaginary world; he has thoughts of what he wants to do but does not act on them and instead does what he is instructed to do. He is in his own world and every one around him notices that he is different. He is described as “pitch black”(25) and “opaque” (25) by society, while to Cincinnatus, he sees the rest of them as “translucent”(26). The description of being pitch black and opaque versus being translucent makes the suggestion that everyone else has no personality are not profound people. They are easily read and shallow. This makes their characterization simplistic and obvious in their dilemmas and schemes. Cincinnatus’s lawyer, Roman...
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