The aspect of alienation has been employed in psychological, sociological, literary, and philosophical spheres among other fields. It refers to the act of separation either emotionally or physically from others in social settings. According to Marx’s theory of alienation, human beings may lose the ability to determine their life’s destiny especially when they are deprived the right to think for themselves but follow extrinsic forces. In literature, the theme of alienation is objectified in character’s emotional conflict as well as in their detestation of social establishments. Usually, the characters may endure experiences that are contradicting with their identity; hence, alienating from their usual self or the society. In light of this, The Lords of Discipline is a book authored by Pat Conroy that delineates a story of four cadets. The author has employed sundry of stylistic devices that develop the characters and the story. This paper compares the impact of alienation among the characters in this book. In addition, the paper identifies how characters try to define their identity in the fiction academy as illustrated in the book.
The society creates a veil between its expectations and what an individual would wish to do in some instances. This is due to the restrictive and at some point, oppressive role the society inflicts in relation to human existence. A police officer may be expected to carry out an execution as per his duties and responsibilities, but he or she feels it is morally wrong. In such a situation, the officer may defy the orders in full awareness of the impeding consequences. This will be a case of alienation because the character isolates from the societal expectations and acts independently. In the book The Lords of Discipline, Will McLean is character who challenges every rule and refuses to conform to the military institute’s concept of honor. A military training camp is guided by staunch rules that each person is expected to follow to the latter; McLean is not for that idea so he isolates himself from the rules. Similarly, the town of Charleston alienates from the expectation according to the author. “It is a city distorted by its own self-worship. I do not believe there is another city like it on earth…nor can I imagine the institute in another city.”As mentioned earlier, alienation can be as a result of emotional disconnect that an individual feels separates him or her from the society.
Just as human beings try to find their own space and try to shape their own identities, characters also define their distinctiveness in the literary world. In a community, each person is known by his or her unique character and behavioral aspects that he possesses. Some identities are imposed on a person by the society and it shapes an individual. The community points out their leader and the individual is identified with that position. This implies that the society plays a role in shaping an individual’s identity that may make them lack self-awareness and embed to other people’s opinions. There are people who are known for their quiet nature and are considered introverts. In most cases, they are considered as thoughtful and talk when it is necessary. Same case applies to literature, a character may be defined as a quiet and wise because of the nature of their silence. In the literal world, identity can be achieved through an array of ways that the author shapes his or her characters. For instance, Cain Gilbreath is generally an outgoing and overly-social guy in the story. He is the guy who will take a beer any time of the day and does not choose his words when conversing. He tells Will that he has missed exchanging insults with him. His nature defines his character that other people seem comfortable and have adapted to it.
Alienation may occur when characters are forced to act of their comfort zone and do extra work than they intended. Characters go through a chronology of events that unfold from the beginning of the story to the ending. Along the way, they endure many experiences some of which they did not anticipate. Mark is an innocent young man in the force who is forced to be oppressed by his peers just because of his ethnicity. “How does it feel, Santoro, to come from a race of men who once ruled the earth, who brought order to the entire Mediterranean world, who redefined the meaning of empire, and who humbled countless warriors and civilizations? “How does it really feel to be Italian, Mark, past masters of the universe who now spend all their time rolling dough and making pepperoni pizza?” Alienation here occurs because the character does not share same background with the others despite the fact that they are friends. As observed in this paper, different authors employ different methods of alienation in their literal works. It varies from emotional or physical disassociation, forcing characters to act out of their comfort zones, creating invisible characters, and desegregating characters from their place and reuniting them once more. Therefore, alienation is an integral device that is used in the literary world.