The Stone Raft by Jose Saramago Essay
The Stone Raft by Jose Saramago
The Stone Raft by Jose Saramago carries the readers through an epic journey of five humans and a dog floating adrift on the Iberian Peninsula. Jose Saramago writes with flair as this political satire unfolds before the reader’s eyes. During a time that Portugal and Spain were breaking away from France to gain independence, it is no coincidence that Jose Saramago was able to compose the masterpiece, The Stone Raft.
Symbolic of the discontent with France, the Iberian Peninsula develops a hair line crack. Although some people were concerned about the crack, the majority did not worry about the situation. Later, the crack formed into a deep ditch. Just as citizens did not worry about the political changes happening between the countries, the characters in The Stone Raft were not particularly concerned about Iberian Peninsula. Jose Saramago makes a strong symbolic statement through the citizens’ initial reaction that humans accept their surroundings and living conditions without question as long as the majority is not alarmed.
As The Stone Raft progresses, the small fracture in the Iberian Peninsula widens to a deep chasm with a river plummeting into its darkness. News of the changes in the fissure hits the televisions and the citizens become panicked and alarmed. The majority of the citizens evacuates and flees in sheer terror. Jose Saramago reinforces is previous statement about human nature and the willingness of minority to follow the majority. Concern and fear does not escalate until the Iberian Peninsula has become news worthy as it completely separates from the European continent and begins to drift in the Atlantic. The political situation between Portugal, Spain and France does not draw the concern of the majority until it too has reached a heightened sense of attention.
The lives of the five strangers as they drift on the Iberian Peninsula become intertwined. These three men and two women have unique traits and trials that become a focal point for drawing them closer as they make the journey on the Iberian Peninsula. Jose Saramago uses these five characters and the dog with them to symbolize the different ways that humans react in a political crisis situation. Some people react by taking chances and exploring like the man that throws the rock out into the sea. Other feel like the world is beyond their control and constantly unraveling like the woman’s sock. Instead of fighting the forces around them, some people will use their strengths to charm their way out of difficult situations. In contrast, some will feel that everything is a simple destiny. We cannot control the things that will simply happen.
The traits of these characters are not by chance. Jose Saramago carefully entwines their traits and interactions to be symbolic of the political uprising against Spain and humans reactions to such an upheaval. Without knowledge of the political environment of the time period, one might mistake this brilliant piece of work for a simple epic journey on a big rock. Others will undoubtedly know that Jose Saramago has once again written an exquisite piece of literature examining the human reaction to surrounding environmental forces, particularly those of political nature.