Miranda Lucas L. A. Per. 2 June 5th, 2012 Social Commentary in Literature Characters in pieces of literature are often influenced by the societies that they live in, and many authors do this to comment on certain social ideas. The story, “The Bass, the River and Shelia Mant”, the author focuses on how people in society should be able to take pride in who they really are and not feel the pressure to be something they are not.
The author of “The Handsomest Drowned Man” wrote this story to show that people tend to make assumptions about people they do not know, based off of their appearance.
Another story called “The Pedestrian” also has social commentary, and the author of this story is showing how society gets lazier as technology grows larger and smarter. These authors are providing situations and challenges of society by making social commentary through their literature pieces. In the story, “The Bass, the River and Sheila Mant”, the author is making a social commentary that people in society should accept the way they are and not feel the pressure to be something they are not.
Accordingly, the narrator in the story enters his canoe with a girl he likes and he makes a mental comment, “There was an extra paddle in the bow, but Sheila made no move to pick it up. She took her shoes off and dangled her feet over the side” (Wetherell). This quote from the story shows that Shelia Mant is a pampered, kind of stuck up girl. Knowing from the story that Shelia Mant’s family is rich, making her rich. Her being rich makes her high class in the social scene. Furthermore, the narrator learns something about Shelia Mant that makes a big statement, “[Why Shelia hated fishing] doesn’t matter.
What does is that at that fragile moment in time I would have given anything not to appear dumb in Sheila’s severe and unforgiving eyes” (Wetherell). The narrator’s reaction that he took Shelia Mant’s thoughts into deep consideration is very understandable, considering that he admires her so much. To illustrate, the narrator learns a valuable life lesson, “There would be other Shelia Mants in my life, other fish and though I came close once or twice, it was these secret, hidden tuggings that claimed me and I would never make this mistake again” (Wetherell).
He learned that he does not need to change himself and just accept who he is. The author used this to make the social commentary of the story clear and understandable. Wetherell made a social commentary that people should not let the pressure of other’s opinions get the best of them and just embrace who they are. In the story, “The Handsomest Drowned Man”, the author is making a social commentary that people make ridiculous assumptions about people they do not know based off of appearance.
Therefore, the women in the town were giving the drowned man a personality, “They thought that he would have had so much authority that he could have drawn fish out of the sea simply by calling their names…” (Marquez). The women in the story are assuming that the drowned man was so great when he was alive, that he had so much authority, even enough to summon fish. The author used this to show what kind of assumptions people are capable of creating just from someone’s appearance.
Moreover, one of the women in the town decides to name the drowned man, “‘He has the face of someone called Esteban ’” (Marquez). The women made a huge assumption that is tough to make, supported by only physical observation. Likewise, because the villagers made these outrageous assumptions, they made a permanent decision, “…‘look there, where there where the wind is so peaceful now that it’s gone to sleep beneath the beds, over there, where the sun’s so bright that the sunflowers don’t know which way to turn, yes, over there, that’s Esteban’s village ’” (Marquez).
The people in the village are making the town a place just like the drowned man, and they even rename the town after Esteban. The author of this story made a social commentary that people often make assumptions about people that they do not know, and sometimes the inferences people come up with can be somewhat deranged. In the story, “The Pedestrian”, the author, Ray Bradbury, is trying to prove to society that technology is growing very quickly and as it grows, it makes society lazier.
Hence, the main character, Leonard Mead, still takes neighborhood walks, but he understands that in the society he lives in that is not considered normal, so he has to do it quietly, “For long ago had had wisely changed to sneakers while strolling at night, because the dogs in intermittent squads would parallel his journey with barkings if he wore hard heels and lights might click on and faces appear and an entire street be startled by the passing of a lone figure, himself, in the early November evening” (Bradbury).
Bradbury is showing us that the society is so over run by technology, that people do not do or live healthy life styles. Although, the people in his neighborhood do not interact with one another, he still tries to secretly talk to them like a normal society would, “‘Hello in there’, he whispered to every house on every side as he moved. ‘What’s up tonight on Channel 4, Channel 7, Channel 9? Where are the cowboys rushing, and do I see the United States cavalry over the next hill to the rescue? ’” (Bradbury). In the story, Leonard asks all the houses what they are watching on T.
V. The author uses this to show that everyone in the town does not leave their home ever and all they do is watch T. V. , which is the result of excessive technology. As a result, in the story, technology has taken over so much, that a stroll around the neighborhood is not just no longer normal nor is it legal, “The back door of the police car sprang wide. ‘Get in’…. ‘Where are you taking me? ’ The car hesitated, or rather gave a faint, whirring click, as if information, somewhere, was dropping card by punch slotted card under electric eyes. To the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies’” (Bradbury). The police car thinks that Leonard has psychiatric problems because he is living in the past based off of how the society he lives in now. The author uses this to show that the society Leonard lives in is undesirable by making the society an imprisonment by technology and a loss of freedom. The author of the story made a social commentary that people get lazier as technology spreads and gets larger, making life easier for society.
Overall, based on these stories, it is easy to see that authors often write literature pieces to comment on certain social ideas. These authors show social ideas such as how people should accept who they are, how people can make assumptions about people they do not know based off of appearance and how society gets lazier as technology grows and makes life easier. All of these are examples of social commentary that authors use to show the challenges of society.
Cite this Social Commentary
Social Commentary. (2016, Oct 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/social-commentary/