The character archetype of the outcast is described as a figure that is banished from a community for some crime (real or imagined). “The outcast is usually destined to become a wanderer” . Society often times shuns people deemed different, making them feel like an outcast. This can be positive or negative, depending how the individual reacts to it. Being viewed as an outcast could inspire a person to resist popular opinion and encourage them to do great things in their life.
While for others, t could cause them to retreat within themselves, preventing them from living a happy life or even causing their death. The archetype of the outcast in represented in the story “The Red Convertible”, by Louise Aldrich, through the character Henry, in the story “A Worn Path”, by Adore Welt, through the character Phoenix and in the song “Mad World” through the singer or narrator. “The Red Convertible” is the story of brothers Henry Junior and Lyman, members of the Chippewa tribe that live on a reservation, separate from the rest of society.
On impulse, the brothers buy a red Oldsmobile convertible and go on a road trip. “We took off driving all one whole summer” . They wandered around Montana for half of the summer sharing good times. They picked up a Native-American girl named Gussy who was hitchhiking and drove her home to Alaska, before returning home so that Henry, who had enlisted in the Marines, could start his service in the Vietnam War. This was a very controversial war and the fact the U. S. Lost, caused a great loss of pride and confidence in the American people.
Instead of giving the returning veterans welcoming home parades, American shunned them. “Then a torrent of fiction, films, and television programs depicted Vietnam vets as drug-crazed psychotic killers, as vicious executioners in Vietnam and equally vicious menaces at home” . Because of these perceived crimes, people shunned the vets making them outcasts. They denied them a place in society. “Virtually nothing was done to aid veterans… Who needed assistance in adjusting” . Lyman and the rest of his family saw the changes in Henry. Lyman said, “When he came home…
Henry was different, and I’ll say this: the change was no good” . His family feared for Henry and what was going to happen to him. “There were no Indian doctors on the reservation” and they didn’t trust the other hospitals so nothing was done. Trying to restore some good in their lives, the brothers’ head out to Bambina and the Red River. While sharing some conversation and beer, Henry wanders into the high waters of the river and drowns, succumbing to effects of being an outcast. ‘A Worn Path” by Adore Welt describes the Journey of an old Negro woman named
Phoenix Jackson who walks from her home into the town of Natchez to get medicine for her sick grandson. Phoenix lives “far out in the country’; an outcast from society. Her crime? She is an old Negro woman. As she walks, she struggles with fatigue and poor eyesight. She navigates many obstacles such as the thicket and the woods that are deep and still. She travels up hill and down, and on a log laid across a creek. She creeps and crawls under a barbed wire fence. She made her way through a cotton field and a corn field maze with no paths to guide her.
It is as if society has put up Hess obstacles trying to keep the old woman out. At one point Phoenix encounters a white man hunting wit s dog. When seen tells him seen is headed tort town nee replies “Now you go on home, Granny! “, belittling her and suggesting that she does not belong in town. When she arrives at the hospital the nurse dismisses her as a “charity case” and offers little sympathy for her grandson’s illness. Despite the many obstacles she faces, Phoenix endures. A society run by white people has little respect for Negroes but, Phoenix will not let this hold her down.
As her name suggests in hydrology she is resurrected time and time again to make this Journey to save her grandson. The lyrics of the song “Mad World” describe the narrator as being a depressed person who feels like he does not fit in with society. He is an outcast. “All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces” shows that he views everyone else as the same but himself as different. Everyone is going about their everyday business and the narrator doesn’t fit in. He is an outsider looking in on life. Not allowed to participate because of some perceived crime on society.
We can only uses what the crime might be, but this song tells us the impact it has had on this man’s life. It makes him sad and the lyric “hide my head I want to drown my sorrow, no tomorrow, no tomorrow’ shows how desperate the narrator feels. He sees life as not worth living anymore and is looking for an escape. “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best Vie ever had” confirms that he is suicidal. He wants to end the pain. He further suggests that he has felt like this since he was a child. “No one knew me, no one knew me, Hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson, look right through me, kook right through me” .
As a child he was different, perhaps from a poor family. Even adults viewed him as an outcast, looking right through him as if he wasn’t even there. Being seen as an outcast has encouraged the narrator to write this song, to share his experience with everyone maybe even helping some. In conclusion, each of the characters described earlier were outcasts, even though their personal outcomes are different. In the story “A Red Convertible” the character Henry is outcast from society when he returns from the Vietnam War, for the crimes that he was presumed to have omitted.
Phoenix Jackson a poor Negro woman from the story ‘A Worn Path” is also an outcast. The white community has no respect for her and will not let her reside among them. They take great measures to keep Phoenix away and when she does come, she is belittled. Finally, in the song “Mad World” the narrator describes being an outcast from society. Even though we do not know exactly why, we can certainly feel his pain. It is important to understand how people relate to one another, whether they decide to include or exclude others and how individuals respond to this decision.