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The short stories: “The Kid Nobody Could Handle” Essay

A person’s need for social connection is directly related to their urge to survive. In the short stories: “The Kid Nobody Could Handle” by Kurt Vonnegut, “The Fall of a City” by Alden Nowlan and “The Painted Door” by Sinclair Ross, the protagonists all experience a type of isolation that lead them to bad decisions, emotional scars and change the way they look at criticism. The isolation factor had altered thoughts in their minds and ultimately committed them into decisions that hurt them in the end.

Sinclair Ross’s “The Painted Door” demonstrates the fact that isolation can make a person make bad choices. When Ann is left alone of the isolated farm, she begins to ponder all the negative thoughts about her husband. Since she feels that she was unable to create that connection with John, this created the gap between them. Ross writes: “sometimes she asks herself, why sit trying with a man who never talked?”(52). When Steven arrives, she felt as if she had broken this seal of isolation; which results in the regretful decision of cheating on her husband. Moreover, in the story “The Kid Nobody Could Handle”, Jim’s decisions to cause havoc in his school is driven by the loneliness inside of him. He was isolated ever since he was young. As Jim has the misconception that nobody cared about him, he goes to school and makes mistakes that hurt himself and the other around him. Vonnegut writes, “They decided to get him clear of Chicago, so they stuck him with me”, coming from his Uncle, surely he did not like him very much. Isolation is one of the key points in people’s reason in their bad decisions.

Isolation from a person’s family or loved ones can result in permanent emotional scars. Teddy from “The Fall of a City” by Alden Nowlan is a child that was neglected by his Uncle and Aunt. This event leads Teddy into creating his own fantasy utopia with paper boxes and dolls to replace reality. His toys symbolized his childhood. However, when his uncle came and ridiculed his personal world, his dreams were shattered. It is obvious that Teddy was emotionally scarred from this because “he was crying by the time he finished tearing it to shreds”. In addition, John from “The Painted Door” also had a similar experience in his story. When he discovers that Ann was cheating with Steven, he is emotionally shocked. John then froze to death
with a smear of paint from the door on his hand. From the unpleasant shocking surprise, John had suicide in the storm because he was hurt so bad emotionally. Isolation is a feeling that can leave you hurt for a very long time.

Being isolated from your peers can also make a person fear criticism. From the short story “The Fall of a City”, the Uncle laughs as he says: “You’d never believe it, but that great big lummox has been playing with paper dolls!” Teddy takes this criticism extremely personally as he cries to tear down his imaginary city. It is perfectly normal for a boy his age to have creativity and imagination to have fun in his own world. However because of how isolated he is from his uncle and auntie, he cannot help but to take this comment as a mock. Jim, “The Kid Nobody Could Handle” experiences this in his story as well. Jim who has been neglected by other all his life had given up the idea that there are people out there that care about him. The author writes: “No more talk about the poor little sick boy,” said Quinn grimly. “That’s all he’s heard from the social workers and juvenile court, and God knows who all.” This quote is saying how much Jim has been criticized before which lead to the emotional state that he is in today. Loneliness can change a criticism into a harmful blade that cuts deep into your inner self.

Isolation can make people do things they normally wouldn’t, hurt you emotionally and make you fear criticism. “The Painted Door”, “The Kid Nobody Could Handle” and “The Fall of a City” had protagonists who previously had experienced isolation. Isolation is a dangerous topic that nobody should play around with.

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