The Fear Of Death In Hugh Maclennan's The Watch That Ends The Night

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The Fear of Death
The anxiety that is created when thinking of the future can have a significant and harmful impact on one’s life in the present, even to a greater extent than what might have previously been feared for the future. By worrying less about what is believed to inevitably happen in the future, this damage can be reduced. In Hugh MacLennan’s novel The Watch that Ends the Night, through the many tragedies within the backstories of George Stewart, Catherine Stewart, and Jerome Martell, it is shown that if clung to unreasonably, the brunt of the fear of death can be equal to, if not greater than, the burden of death itself. Signs of this fear of death are shown at several points in the relationships and lives of George and Catherine
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Because of George 's reaction, or perhaps, his lack of reaction towards Catherine's ill heart, they both are able to develop their relationship in a positive manner. They form a romantic relationship and eventually go on to marry after Jerome does not return from Spain, and hope for his survival diminishes. Throughout their relationship, it is shown that Catherine’s heart is not as much of a hindrance as others believe it to be. She is able to participate in her daily routines without trouble, and in her adulthood, she describes the lack of development in her illness to George by telling him, “My heart is in the same old place making the same old sounds, but I’m not afraid of it anymore” (138). Even during Catherine’s first marriage with Jerome, what her family thought in the past about her being unable to bear children was proven incorrect. Although it nearly kills her, and she would not ever be able to give birth to bear anymore children, she successfully gives birth to their daughter, Sally. By setting aside death anxiety, Catherine and George are successful in having regular lives without the overwhelming anxiety of Catherine’s sudden death. The feelings created by Jerome’s absence, on the other hand, do not have outcomes that are as positive. The dread of the thought of him being killed by Nazi forces is too much for his foster mother, and when combined with her own husband’s recent death, it is what causes her health to decline until her own eventual death. Just weeks before she dies, she writes a heartfelt letter to Catherine, reminiscing the time she spent raising him. She even reassures Catherine that Jerome will return, although it is questionable whether she even believes this herself. Before she dies, Jerome’s foster mother writes, “Some day he will return to you, Catherine dear.

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