William Saroyan in The Time of Your Life, John Steinbeck in Canary Row, and Robinson Jeffers in Tor House, all deliver intellectual creations expounding on the fundamental elements to peaceful co-existence that the modern society has disregarded. In the Tor House, Jeffers offers his opinion to a permanent fulfilling life through the metaphorical use of the stone house. Jeffers main agenda as exploited in the poem is to emphasize on the intransience of creations that individuals come up with or the actions they opt for. In Canary Row, Steinbeck critically analyzes the ecosystem by pointing out the significance of excelling in a rewarding life, specifically working as interdependent units in the society rather than single elements fascinated by the desire of material possession. In The Time of Your Life, Saroyans main idea revolves around material possession and living a happy life, the two factors that can never go together. According to Saroyan, living a genuinely happy life means compromising on the exhilarating appetite for material possession. A deeper analysis of the three authors works shows linkage regarding ethical and moral constructs that the current American society has neglected, which represent a considerable sign of ruin. It is also important to note that the three share a common philosophical perspective. Through the authors works, a philosophical view is shown by societys inability to perceive reality as it is.
The societys failure to comprehend and embrace the reality as it is acts as the central philosophical underpinning that unites the works of the three authors. The truth that has remained elusive to many people is that simplicity and the ability to cherish what they have is a significant factor in life. Indivdiuals have limitless accessibility to necessities with the potential of substantiating life in a meaningful outlook. Jeffers uses the stone house; a home built from free stones provided by nature while Steinbeck and Saroyan emphasize the need to appreciate each other as the right move to living happily. Relationship foundations plus possibilities of meeting individuals in life are key elements predisposed by nature that everyone requires to make life meaningful with a sense of direction. However, as simple as this reality is, people tend to aspire for other superficial elements they think are needed to make life better.
Taking it from Jeffers perspective, Tor House which is a simple stone creation portrays the inability of people accept the truth. The truth from this point of view is associated with the fact that simplicity (the stone house) is key to a satisfying and continous life on earth. The creations and actions that people make while still alive are responsible for determining how they will survive continuously even after facing a physical extinction. The stone house that Jeffers builds has a strong foundation made from granite (5). The strong foundation is an emphasis on how strong the house is rooted to the ground, possessing the ability to stand there for long, putting into perspective it was crafted from simple elements. Saroyan shares this particular perspective by exploiting the inability of people to accept the simple elements that make life gratifying. People aspire for large ideal homes and big wallets while ignoring the fact that they can enjoy life at just an average level. Joe, a character used by Saroyan, fulfills the American dream of being wealthy but still does not enjoy life.
Saroyan and Steinbeck dwell on the actions that people take as they aspire to live fulfilling lives. The reality is that enriching lives depend on the simple actions that people make. Our socially constructed identities are nothing close to the natural state of ourselves. The reality presented by the American dream has made the society a very chaotic place as people try to live better through material possession. Saroyan uses the character of Kitty, a woman who had a desire of living the ultimate American dream. Kitty realizes the impossibility of her dream and is forced to accept the reality of a simple but happy life. Just like Saroyan, Steinbeck also shares the perspective that wealth, property and materialistic pursuits are very destructive. Steinbeck makes an appropriate use of Mack and the boys to explain the reality of people living within their means and what happens when they try to deviate from this particular norm. Mack and the boys live a sustainable simple life that is linked to the core aspects of human survival. They survive on what they only need and do not strive to get more. As Steinbeck indicates, every time Mack and the boys try to get more than what they need; chaos erupts in the community. Therefore, by deciding to live a simple life, Mack and the boys become happy, and so does the Doc. Despite being at a different level than the rest of the community members, the Doc invests much time serving them, a path he sees to be very rewarding. By dwelling much on the so-called American dream, Steinbeck indicates that people tend to sway from the reality of simple living exhibited by cherishing each other and the environment in general.
The moral perspective shared by the three authors is also directly linked to the inability to accept the reality. As already pointed out, the reality that people are afraid of is living simple lives. By deviating away from the simple lives of using what the environment has already provided us with, chaos usually becomes the order of the day. To get to the top while trying to fulfill the American dream means stepping on the toes of others, a precursor proven to be excellent in creating a lot of enemies. Saroyan, Steinbeck, and Jeffers can agree and bring out the ethic and moral values that are compromised when people fail to accept the idea that a simple life is a good life.
In Tor House, Jeffers is able to insinuate that the approach of the modern society to construction involving the cutting down of trees is a selfish approach. Trees which are significant to the staibility of relationships are endlessly cut down to create space for construction. When building his house, Jeffers does not cut down any tree and makes use of the readily available stones. Saroyan exploits this perspective by indicating that a community is an ecosystem. A shift in equilibrium, probably caused by the cutting down of trees, can result in undesirable consequences. People who are living real lives by using what they already have such as the pimps and whores are considered outcasts while the real threats (politicians and wealthy) are fully accepted.
The tree-cuting process as a way of achieving self-centered goals is a perspective shared by Saroyan and Steinbeck, especially when relating what is people need to achieve the American dream. Saroyan implicates that a successful society lacks desirable traits. To realize the American dream as exhibited by Saroyan and Steinbeck, people have to do things that are considered immoral, actions that are equal to Jeffers perspective of cutting down trees to build houses. From the American dream perspective, the cutting down of trees is the action of eliminating people deemed as competitors in ones life to become successful. This shows the lack of morals and ethics that binds the society together, a perspective shared by the three authors. As indicated by Joe in Saroyans The Time of Your Life, wealth is not the key to living happy, and neither is cutting down of trees while they are categorically needed for the permanent beautification and existence of the house.
In summary, it is important to note that Saroyan, Steinbeck, and Jeffers share common philosophical and moral perspective. The shared philosophical position is the inability of the current American society to accept that reality as it is. By doing so, they end compromising the morals and ethics that bind the community together. The reality is that living a good and fulfilling life is proportionally linked to its simplicity. All the necessary elements that are needed for life to matter are naturally available. In Tor House, Jeffers has the necessary building materials, stones, readily provided by nature. In their critical evaluation of the American dream, Saroyan and Steinbeck emphasize the need of correlating well with each other. The society compromises on these significant life values when people fail to accept the simple reality and opt for chaos, fighting for a life that has no core attributes such as being happy and satisfied.
Bennett, Melba Berry. The stone mason of Tor House: the life and work of Robinson Jeffers. W. Ritchie Press, 1966. Print.
Saroyan, William. The Time of Your Life. Hollywood: Samuel French, 1941. Print.
Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row. New York: Viking, 1945. Print.
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