Lamp at noon personal response
When one thinks of being caged, he or she may think of a bird being put in a cage so it can’t fly away. Or a person may think of a criminal caged by their jail cell bars, enclosing them off from society. However, in the short story, The Lamp at Noon, written by Sinclair Ross, a clear tone of desperation is shown through symbolism, confirming the harsh effects that the 1930’s dust bowl had on a family but specifically on a character named Ellen. Ross displays how the character Ellen is feeling very stuck in where she is living and also feeling trapped in a life she no longer wants to live in.
Ellen is also feeling entrapped by her husband Paul in a way too, he traps her by moving to this place with constant dust storms and land that cannot be farmed, yet he refuses to give up and move back to the city, which infuriates Ellen.
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The author uses a lot of symbolism and foreshadowing to depict her being caged and later on her attempt at an escape. Ross uses dust as a symbol of sadness and depression. “There was dust everywhere. Her own throat parched with it. ” Ellen is suffocating in sadness and is in a deep depression.
She was depressed standing all day, feeling caged inside the house. “I told you this morning, Ellen; we keep on right where we are. At least I do. It’s yourself you’re thinking about, not the baby. ” I think the author is foreshadowing the ending of the story, how Ellen ends up running away which causes her baby’s death. Her escape was brass a senseless and just shows how trapped she really felt. “I’m afraid, Paul. I can’t stand it any longer. He cries all the time” in this quote, she even uses her baby as an excuse to leave while arguing with Paul.
Ellen staring out the window all day just shows her longing to leave. Furthermore, Ross uses this window in the house and even the door as a symbol for being caged, because she is looking outside but is unable to liberate and leave the house due to the dust storm. But the window and door also provide protection, for Ellen and the baby. Since once Ellen attempts to flee she is knocked down by the strong wind and cannot breathe due to the excessive dust and her baby has died from pneumonia.
Ironically the place Ellen felt so trapped by also protected her at the same time. Ross’ artistic manipulation of landscape and exploration of human behavior when feeling trapped was really beneficial to the story. Also his well-crafted structures and precise descriptive images add to the story, he was very descriptive of how the setting looked, describing it as a bleak, barren, grey place. Halfway through the story I could literally taste dust and felt myself feeling a little claustrophic as well, because of the sentiment of Ellen being enclosed in her house.
At the end of the story, he leaves the reader wondering whether Paul and Ellen will stay in their dust covered, isolated house or move back to the city. He concludes with irony “You said tonight we’d see the storm go down. So still now, and a red sky-it means tomorrow will be fine. ” It is ironic because the couple’s baby, who represented hope, just died. How could anything be fine? As well, Sinclair uses a depressing, low, and in fact dull tone in this story. I felt the story didn’t really hold my interest; it was quite depressing especially at the end when the baby died and was just too long!
On the other hand I think Ross is a very clever author. He foreshadows so much of what is going to happen at the end of the story in the beginning so subtly. For example this quote was on the second page of the short “There were two winds: the wind in flight, and the wind that pursued” is foreshadowing Ellen running away, which occurs at the end of the story. Ross used formal diction, the story was told in third person omniscient and he didn’t favor a character which I liked; he showed both sides to the story so the reader could form their own opinions of the characters and situation.
I would read it again to analyze symbols and foreshadowing. I identified and related to Ellen while reading this story, because sometimes I feel trapped in life. I feel I live in such an ordinary, mundane, uneventful life and want to escape. My life is so routine and repetitive. I do the same thing day after day. I feel as if I was just born in this society, to be another obedient worker who is taught to follow the system; going to school, then university, working a 9-5 job, getting married, having kids, retiring and then death of course.
But I don’t like how I’m born into this system with no choice, like everything is already planned out for me and if I don’t abide then I’m a screw up. “I’m so caged – if I could only break away and run. ” I sometimes feel like escaping like Ellen but I can’t really escape society, its everywhere, I am stuck. Kind of like how Ellen tries to escape but the dust is everywhere, she’s stuck in dust. I think the author’s goal is to make people aware of how it affects your mind when you are stuck in one place for a long amount of time. Whether it be stuck in a physical or mental
place. It makes you want to rebel and often impairs your ability to make sensible decisions. People can be trapped in a room for hours and go insane and hurt themselves but some people who may not be mentally well, are stuck in a certain state of mind and ultimately that can be dangerous as well. In addition, so many people feel stuck in their lives or stuck in relationships they don’t want to be in or jobs they hate but are too afraid to walk away or are just stuck in a rut. They’re so used to it; they don’t even do anything about it anymore. They’re stuck!