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Alienation As a Major Theme In Modernist Literature

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    Modernist literature is often notable for what it omits; the explanations, interpretations, connections, summaries, and distancing that provide continuity, perspective, and security in earlier literatures. The modernist movement started to come about during a violent time period due to the World War and along with technology advances in society. Alienation is the primary theme in Modernist literature.  The Waste Land is indeed a Modernist style writing which requires the reader to interpret and/or analyze the text that is being read.  This extremely long poem tells a story of redemption and renewal. The Waste Land’s modernist style requires the reader to take an active role in interpreting the text in the way the writer trying to depict the meaning. Eliot uses the contrast of April and Winter to express a deeper understanding of what he is writing about. April is cruel compared to Winter as “Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow”  while April is the return of action and emotions “Memory and desire.”

    The poem states, “Lilacs out of the dead land”  meaning the land was at peace and still.  April is a time for things to awaken from a long hibernation due to the Winter’s harsh conditions.  This is the time of year where work must begin again. The narrator of the poem dreads the awakening and work that Spring brings.  The narrator also dreads the way Spring forces things that were still and inactive back to the state of life.  He is experiencing PTSD from his experience of the World War.  This trauma has caused him to socially disconnect from others. ‘Speak to me.  Why do you never speak.  Speak. ‘What are you thinking of?  What thinking?  What? ‘I never know what you are thinking.  Think.’ I think we are in rats’ alley Where the dead men lost their bones. During Winter, everything is sleep and inactive while Spring drags the world out of its sleep state stirring everything up. Everything he is trying to repress is also stirred within him. Life continues to move forward while he is not ready to adjust to the changes. The sense of loss, and being loss, is a major theme in “The Waste Land”. The narrator is traumatized and has alienated himself from the world.

    As the world continues to change and move on, he has a hard time moving with it. And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, And the dry stone no sound of water. The narrator feels there is no escaping the feeling he is feels about this new life around him.  The only relieve he feels is comparing the numbness of Winter, but unfortunately Spring has arrived and he no longer feels still and/or at peace. The Waste Land is an important literary movement of Modernism.  The narrator connects Winter and Spring in a way he wants the reader to interpret or contrast how is truly feeling.  This style of writing came about during a violent time period due to the World War and along with technology advances in society. This change in society was not easy for many.  For the returning soldiers who survived the horrifying events of war, it must have seemed that they were not returning home due to the unrecognizable changes.  The modernist style of writing used in “The Waste Land” keeps the readers in tuned while interpreting the text in order to properly understand the message the writer wants the reader to understand.

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