In every establishment of order, there is always a select group of people who contend with the mainstream conventions–the outcasts. By creating new templates, outcasts are condemned for creating a discrepancy in society. In contrast to a conformist, an outcast is a person who is rejected or cast out because of uncharacteristic beliefs. For example, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the title character is a vagrant who finds himself at odds with the prevailing customs of his society and decides to follow his own beliefs. The short stories “The Sculptor’s Funeral” and “Rip Van Winkle” also portray outcasts that are not attuned to the societies they live in: Harvey Merrick has an affinity for the arts in a region where such a profession is scorned and Rip Van Winkle is literally from a different time period. Despite their good intensions, these characters are perceived as detrimental to society for straying away from the established order. As long as outcasts reject societal norms, discord will persist between society and an outcast not because of the latter’s endangerment to society’s well-being, but because of the threat his presence poses to the majority stronghold.
Rip Van Winkle is an outcast in regards to societal norms, but because of his absent-mindedness and complacency, he poses no threat to the current framework of society and is treated as a valued citizen. Rip is an outcast because of his dissociation with his current time period after a twenty year slumber. Even after a monumental battle liberating America from England, and even after proclaiming himself a “loyal subject of the King” (Irvin 133), Rip is nonetheless discharged because of his lazy disposition and passiveness. Although he does not like doing work, Rip never shies from helping other people-this also grants him acceptance from society. Akin to the townspeople from “The Sculptor’s Funeral,” Rip’s community seeks to exploit its citizens and Rip’s obsequiousness.
Kaatskill Mountain, a dismembered branch of the great Appalachian mountain which is one of the two highest mountains of the Nortth America(Appalachian in the east and Rocky mountain in the west), is always the pride of American people from the past to present days. At the outset of his story, Washington Irving uses personification to invest the Kaatskil Mountains with human qualities. Kaatskill ...
Rip becomes “reverenced as one of the patriarchs of the village” (Irvin 135) most likely because the village hopes his docile nature will spread to future generations so that they, too, will be subordinate to society’s will. In relation to this, a lifelong subject of a state should naturally abide to this dedication if his nation is overthrown. If such a situation arises, the contender will be confronted by opposition and expelled from the new establishment. In this case, however, Rip Van Winkle, a former supporter of England, is apathetic to the concept of politics and thus poses no endangerment to the enterprise of the new nation.
In contrast to Rip Van Winkle, Huckleberry Finn is unable to cope with the hypocritical principles that form the basis of the Southern psyche, and he seeks to dissociate himself from society. The usual context of an outcast involves a degradation of character in said outcast, but Huck serves as an anomaly to this view as he has a pure soul. When Tom Sawyer forms a band of robbers, he requires Huck “to go back to the widow and be respectable” (Twain 1).
This is a perfect example of the hypocrisy in the South and the tumult that inevitably results in Huck’s mental framework; consequently, he chooses to detach himself from the rest of society and its ideals. Since he is unmindful of the preconceived notions in society regarding blacks, Huck ultimately decides to help free Jim, a runaway slave– a sacrilege by the outlook of society.
Huck is able to transcend the immorality and hypocrisy that so prominently pervade his society and conceive his own standards. Although Huck wavers in his decision to help Jim, he eventually crosses the point of no return when he completely discards religion-a strong proponent of society-and decides to “‘go to hell…’ and never [think] no more about reforming” (Twain 214).
Nothing is more apparent in the genre of satire than the ridicule of the vices and immoralities of society. This focussing on the defects of society as a whole doubles as a function of this genre of literature and a framework within the plot or theme of the novel or story. The satirist emphasizes the ugly ramifications of society, but to do so the satirist needs a vehicle for the observation of ...
This illustrates how even the Church has become defiled by immorality and disillusioned with the welfare of humanity. In order to uphold the system of slavery, the Church threatens abolitionists, who pursue very noble causes, with the fate of Hell and damnation. Huck would forever be condemned as a heretic, or an outcast, for helping Jim escape.
An outcast of a different nature, Harvey Merrick, from “The Sculptor’s Funeral,” is scorned for his aspirations to achieve atypical goals; evidently, his death is greeted by an insincere and transient audience. Merrick’s mother Annie feigns anguish, and is most upset by the maid for forgetting to make salad dressing, and the rest of the mourners only seek monetary ramifications from Harvey’s death. Furthermore, despite “the palm leaf which lay across the black cover [of his tomb]” (Cather 408), the townspeople ridicule Merrick’s effeminacy and inability to do manual labor. They “hated Harvey Merrick… for winning out” (Cather 414) from the model they hoped to mold him into. Raised in a city where “reputable men are as scarce as millionaires” (Cather 413), Harvey Merrick didn’t fit in with the business men and lawyers of his society and escaped to Boston to learn art and become respectable.
While Huck Finn lived in a society of bigotry and hypocrisy, Harvey Merrick also lived in a “place of hatred and bitter waters” (Cather 414); both were led astray because of the corruption that fueled their respectable cultures. In correspondence to society’s immoral ethos, the only individuals that genuinely mourn Merrick’s death are also subjugated and condemned by their peers. Because he “meant to be a great man” (Cather 414), Jim Laird, Harvey’s childhood friend, was compelled to become a lawyer– only to serve to the greedy endeavors of the townspeople. Furthermore, the Merrick family is obsequious to the requests and demands of the mother and is unable to formally pay tribute to Harvey. In a society governed by self-indulgence, the death of a respectable man will only be addressed with disregard and disdain.
The Real Plague Although never given permission to kill, by supernatural or natural means, man has reserved for himself the right to kill other men. This self-imposed right has been put into use in our civilizations and countries. Whether train of logic is offered or not, murder is very difficult to justify. As existentialists believe, 'honesty with oneself' cannot be compromised in any shape or ...
As the townspeople of Sand City are unable to comprehend the brilliance of Harvey Merrick, it shows that the constitution of a man can only be fully gleaned through inspection into the depths of the individual’s mind; actions cannot be analyzed without studying the underlying motivations. Huck follows his unadulterated ideals while the rest of society is disillusioned by bigotry; Harvey Merrick undermines the corruption and customs of his community by breaking away from his peers; and Rip Van Winkle eschews conventional thinking. By abstaining from conformity, outcats will continue to maintain the barrier that divides them from the company of the majority. As a result, society deems the outcasts as detrimental to the current hierarchy and renounces their ways of conduct.
Cather, Willa. “The Sculptor’s Funeral.” 406-415.
Irvin, Washington. “Rip Van Winkle.” Elements of Literature. Eds. Robert Anderson et al. 5th Course. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc, 1993. 125-136.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Puffin Classics, 2008.