Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Making of Men

Journal No. 14

English 48A
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I chose: Rebecca Harding Davis

I. "If I had the making of men, these men who do the lowest part of the world's work should be machines, --nothing more, --hands. It would be kindness. God help them!"

II. Kirby is referring to iron-mill workers and wishing that they could be machines.

III. Rebecca Harding Davis writes of the "compassion" that Kirby has for the iron-mill workers. He is alarmed and ashamed for the people upon whose lives he is looking. He observes the lack of muscular form that Wolfe has and the bed of ashes which Deborah lies upon. He sees these things as the ultimate signs that their lives are torturous and meaningless.
In evaluating the opinions of Kirby's, the reader is challenged to scope out their own feelings and figure where they stand themselves. Do we feel sorry for Wolfe and Deborah? Is Kirby being insensitive to the true design of their lives? I believe that the reader is shown that Kirby was being sensitive to the fact that only "machines" should do such work. To reveal another life to the workers and people who live in the iron-works town is cruel. Seeing another possibility for a different, better life, Wolfe is only left feeling rejected and discarded. Had he continued in the fashion he had prior to meeting Kirby and the other businessmen, he would have existed merely to exist. But he would have known no additional cruelty and torture. Kirby simply wanted the men and women of the iron-works town to be able to do their duties without feeling the pain of the rest of the world beyond them. They would not be aware that there existed things to want and desire. They would not be teased with imagined scenes of clear skies and clean water. They would have no hope.


drscottie said...

20/20 merely to exist?