Scott Sanders' The Men We Carry in Our Minds and Alistair MacLeod's The Vastness of Darkness: The Predetermined Life

Pages: 3 (1304 words) Published: July 11, 2010
The Predetermined Life
Many people can relate to feeling a need to escape from their past. More specifically, people feel the need to escape the expectations placed on them because of their social class or gender. Both of these things can have a great impact on what we become as adults and because of them there are certain expectations placed on children and their futures. Many children do not see another life other than that which has been lived by those before them. Scott Sanders, in his writing “The Men We Carry in Our Minds”, talks at length about his understanding of men and their place in society as people and workers based on what he saw around him growing up. His childhood views stemmed from living in a social class where the men worked hard for their livings. Later, Sanders’ views are broadened when he gets the opportunity to attend a rather prestigious university. Similarly, James, the narrating character from Alistair MacLeod’s short story “The Vastness of Darkness” comes from a long line of hard working miners. In an effort to escape the possibility of becoming a miner, like his father and grandfather, he discovers it may be harder than he first expected. The working fate of so many children seems already set in stone because of their gender or social class. The dismal prospect of becoming tired and old before their age makes them drives many of them to explore other options only to find that they either cannot or do not want to change.

Both Sanders and Macleod write about a working class of people. A community of men who work very hard for very little and in many cases such work has a very negative effect on their bodies. According to Sanders’, men had two options as adults. “Warriors and toilers: those seemed, in my boyhood vision, to be the chief destinies for men” (Sanders 569). As soldiers they got to play a fair amount but they also had to fight in wars and kill or be killed. Working men ended up with bodies that aged much faster then those...
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