The very popular Canadian literature, The Lamp at Noon by Sinclair Ross, simply mirrors the reality scenario of couple or to any people who lacks of understanding and communication that oftentimes lead to tragic and unresolved problems. There are many factors to figure out the root in defining one’s role in society, such as the time period, the beliefs one holds, the setting in which one domesticates their life and more. Just like in the story, the time and the setting that the story takes place define the roles that the characters take on in the stories, and become central to the conflicts in many of the various relationships.
The man in the story set up emotional barriers that the woman dare not overstep, in order to retain woman’s position as the simple housewife. The conflicts between the partners in the various relationships seem to suggest author’s view to the roles defined by society for men and women. To further understand and appreciate the story; the elements are dissected from characters, plot, theme, setting and to point of views. The imagery in the story is developed in non-human elements such as the natural environment, animals, and inanimate objects which are brought to life with characteristics that match those of the characters involved.
These influence and reflect the emotions of the characters in the story The Lamp at Noon. The wind is a powerful force that changes with the emotions of Ellen and Paul. Sinclair describes the wind as two separate winds: “the wind in flight and the wind that pursues, Ellen cannot escape her isolation. The wind in flight always returns to “quake among the feeble eaves, as if in this entire dust-mad wilderness it knew no other sanctuary” . Ellen is also forced to seek refuge within her small home, which is also the place where she feels the most secluded; the wind outside often contrasts the silence that is encased inside.
During an argument between Paul and Ellen, there is an uncomfortable silence as described “a deep fastness of it enclosed by rushing wind and creaking walls “This noise around them makes the silence within even more uncomfortable. Paul later finds the silence comforting when he is in the stable. It is described as a “deep hollow calm within, a vast darkness engulfed beneath the tides of moaning wind”. The silence protects him and brings him relief from the dangerous world outside.
Unfortunately, the walls seem to weaken against the powerful wind, and “instead of release or escape from the assaulting wind, the walls are but a feeble stand against it”. Paul begins to understand what Ellen is feeling, and the wind screams like Ellen’s cries. As he thinks of ways to restore the land and make Ellen happy, the wind starts to slacken. For a short moment, he feels relief. When he returns to the house, he realizes that Ellen is gone. At this point, the wind whimpers and moans as if it knows Ellen’s isolation and Paul’s despair.
The imagery of the wind is used by Sinclair to intensify the characters’ emotions and help the reader understand what the characters are experiencing. The lamp is another significant image in this story because it shows that this particular storm is different from the countless others. The act of lighting the lamp at noon tells that this storm is serious. Paul calls it “the worst wind yet” and says that he “had to light the lantern in the shed, too “The lamp also sets the mood between Ellen and Paul and gives us insight into their characters.
“The lamp between them throws strong lights and shadows on their faces”. They look at the appearance of age that these lights and shadows emphasize in both of them. Paul’s effacement of youth gives him “sternness, an impassive courage”. He is content because the cost of his youth is worth “the fulfillment of his inmost and essential nature”. Ellen, however, has not gained anything in return for the cost of her youth. She has “the face of a woman that has aged without maturing” in the way that Paul has matured.
The lamp creates tension between them during their argument. “It seems the yellow lamplight casts a hush upon them”. The light of the lamp causes the walls to recede, dim and come again, as a parallel to their continuing argument that keeps returning after never being fully resolved. When Paul returns to the house to find Ellen missing, he notices that the lamp has been blown out. The blown-out lamp signifies the death of the child and the end of their dreams for the future. The child was gone and so their future.
The story anchors the theme of loneliness, isolation and survival. It particularly focuses on the insanity of the character of Ellen and the reasons for her becoming insane during the story. The relationship between Ellen and Paul plays out another story, that of the poor man who marries a rich wife. The chip on his shoulder and foolish pride prevent him from listening to his wife and acknowledging when it is time to change, to move on, and to put aside his pride to save his marriage and family.
Ellen is the traditional wife, needing her husband, but locked in the rules of marriage and staying at the farm even though she knows she should leave to save her baby. Yet she stays and the baby dies. The guilt and shame of that decision and the isolation ultimately cause her insanity. ” “The Lamp at Noon” would almost be classified as a suspense story, due to the factor of whether or not the crops will return. Also an unquestionably melodramatic tone, when the wife, Ellen, realizes having hope in her husband would be worthless.
Ellen also realizes that, with or without her husband, Paul, she is doomed to suffering. Especially in the quarrel in the house, feelings of hopelessness and emptiness surround the ill-fated couple. These are the feelings that surrounded many farm families in the depression, so it is quite believable that this farm couple would be going through this turmoil. Paul, the husband, attempts to convince his wife that there is hope for him yet, although one could make the argument that he was lying to himself. He wants to assure his wife, as well as convince himself.
It is the feeling of desperation and bleakness that intermingles with the words to create an accurate picture of the pairs’ lives. The depression was an era of plaintive indignation and somber discontent. Throughout Sinclair Ross’s story, she has explored and made believable to relate the fact setting in our society-the common situations; passages of empty dreams and hopelessness made it real. The credibility was in the character’s words and the nature of the relationship between the family and the farm. The family, in all aspects of life, is in a never-ending cycle of empty dreams and promises.
This exists only for the far-off chance they may be rescued from their lives. The pair have little things to make themselves happy, spending their time arguing over who has it worse. And so, communication is really the key to eliminate chaos.
Lesk, Andrew. “The Lamp at Noon and Other Stories”. The Literary Encyclopedia. 15 June 2005. “The use of setting and atmosphere in The Lamp at Noon, Sinclair Ross” Justin Jusilla. 2008. <http//www. helium. com/items/945048-the-use-of-setting-and-atmosphere-in-the-lamp-at-noon-by-sinclair-ross>
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