A Feeling Of Suffocation: Literary Analysis

817 Words4 Pages
Madi Hart Mason 10 English Honors 16 December 2015 A Feeling of Suffocation: The Need for Escape in the Early 1900s The white, upper-middle class American family in New Rochelle during the early 1900s is beginning to experience many changes. Not only are they associated with a black woman named Sarah and her child (whom Mother took in when Father was in the Arctic), they are also associated with Coalhouse Walker, Sarah's fiancé and father of the child, who believes himself to be equal to or better than most white men. When he is treated unfairly by a group of volunteer firemen because of his race, Coalhouse demands respect and doesn't receive it. Coalhouse attempts to seek help from the family but something always stops them from helping him.…show more content…
Within the passage, titles like Mother and Father are used in place of real names and are examples of archetypes. Doctorow uses archetypes to depict how the events that occur in these characters lives could apply to real people of their socioeconomic status in the early 1900s. Foreshadowing is first used when it is stated, "He had never confided in them or shared his hopes or feelings and so they saw no marked change in his behavior,". This hints at the possibility that there was or would be a marked change in his behavior. Another example of foreshadowing occurs when Younger Brother was spending time with the rest of the family after dinner. "He saw them in their suffocating parlor with its chaise and its mounted heads and fringed lampshades and felt he couldn't breathe,". It then becomes evident to the reader that Mother's Younger Brother feels as though he needs to escape and it is not yet clear whether it is from the situation or the family. A final example of foreshadowing is when Younger Brother finally leaves the parlor. "The young man rushed from the room convinced he was strangling to death,". The reader now knows that Younger Brother was desperate to leave the parlor but is not informed yet if that is all he wanted to escape…show more content…
The theme demonstrated in this passage is also demonstrated throughout the entire novel. One example of escape in the novel is when life gets too hectic for the family in New Rochelle and they decide that there is no better way to make their lives less hectic than leaving town for a while. "What we have to do, Father said, is get away...,"(Doctorow 234). This occurs after Younger Brother disappears and Mother and Father realize that they need to escape from their daily lives until the attention being paid to their family is diverted to other occurrences. This passage also helps the reader appreciate when Younger Brother stands up for himself at the dinner table. "While Sarah served, Father told her that her fiancé would have done better after all to drive away his car when he could and forget the matter. Younger Brother bristled. You speak like a man who has never been tested in his principles, he said,"(Doctorow 186). After experiencing the anger that Younger Brother felt when in the parlor before this conversation, the reader can appreciate Younger Brother's reaction to Father
Open Document