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  • Subject Name : English Literature

Creative Response to Text – The Golden Age by Joan London

Today, Miley was sent to the box, that's what the public was calling them, boxes. This was one of the initiatives taken by the government to control the spread of the virus. People who were suspected to be infected were sent to boxes to save others. Although everyone knew their existence, none of the citizens of Caire knew what happened in the boxes and how they were supposed to behave with those who came back from them. There are children in terrible pain stuck in the boxes because there's no treatment for the spreading disease. Even doctors wear gloves and masks to avoid contagion. Kai, one of the few people who came back, described living in the boxes as a terrifying experience riddled with fear, helplessness, and loneliness.

Living in the boxes is an experience so scarring that children can't even bring themselves to speak of it. Getting taken away by the agency due to the suspicion of infection was not the only fear of the community. Most of the citizens reported a fear so peculiar and poignant that no one even talks about it, alienation. Randy and Martha the neighbours of Miley, an old couple, didn’t talk to the parents of Miley, disgusted and frightened by their disease, they locked themselves in their home to make sure that they don’t get isolated in the boxes, like others. This sense of fear grappling the social fabric of Caire was not founded upon irrationality. The one thing citizens of Caire learned from the experiences of those who returned is that even though we don’t one another, we do not want to left alone.

People living in the boxes became so completely absorbed in them and isolated from their fellows, that they dreaded meeting anyone at all. For a while, they struggled with the doctors and nurses and wanted to come back home. But, the anxieties of their position eventually ceased to weigh upon them and they gave up attending to the matters of practical concern. Their motor skills started to deteriorate and they had difficulty maintaining a coherent train of thought and forming sentences. These experiences were no exception, but the norm of living in isolation.

Katey, who used to be a waitress in a local restaurant, before she was sent in quarantine, said that in her grandfather’s farm there were chickens filled with weird drugs and stuff, who were put on conveyor belts and a machine used to cut their heads off and pluck them. She felt the same in isolation, helpless and alone. Katey shared her experience with Dr. Fyodor, who was studying the experiences of those who returned. Dr. Fyodor was one of the most respected members of society, an orphan who struggled his way from poverty. Every night, the doctor used to sit in his dimly lit study room with thousands of books which gave the room a familiar smell, to reflect on his findings. He used to report his insights in his diary, not for publication or discussion.

Yesterday's entry in his diary mentioned that identification is what makes isolation so powerful. A stranger may long to be a part of society but have never being a member, will not shape her identity, or derive meaning based on this association. The isolated individual cannot escape the connection. Isolation, whether forced by some other entity or voluntarily imposed, is not merely a feeling; it is an outside force that is not happenstance. Dr. Fyodor further mentioned that when humans get genuinely isolated for others, they experience serious psychological consequences.

Human beings have an inherent need to belong, accompanied, and to depend on others throughout their life. Living in isolation acts as a window into what living life would be like if we never existed. With no one to take notice of use, talk to use, sees us, respond to users in any way whatsoever, we feel as if we are dead and isolation ensures that there is no one to remind us that we are alive. After reviewing his previous entries, Dr. Fyodor gazed upon the nearby window and reflected on his own experience of growing up with no one to call his own and with a sense of isolation and loneliness people who live in the box feel. He closed his diary and went to sleep in perfect silence with no sound coming from the street to acknowledge his presence.

Writer Explanation

The creative response mentioned above is influenced by the novel “The Golden Age” by John London. The novel is set in Perth during early 1940 which places the events and characters in the World War II scenario. Hungarian heritage of characters distances them from Australians and never gave them a chance to settle in. In numerous ways, the story of the Golds is underpinned by tragedy, not only from war but also from polio which forces the family to reassess all plans of ordinary Australian life. A lot of key themes in the novel exist in opposing or diametric pairs. London uses a lot of thematic tension to show that life is not ever while and black.

The key ideas of the novel and childhood or innocence and interactions also illustrate a sense of maturity. Another key thematic element of the novel is adversity or tragedy, such as Sullivan who contracts polio in his adulthood, and readers cannot help to feel a sense of loss. Finally, London also deals with the idea of isolation which is regarded as the result of the tragedy. Major characters include Frank Gold, the central character, a wide-eyed inquisitive boy. Other key characters include Elsa Briggs, a warm and selfless person who demonstrates emotional maturity. Frank's parents, Ida and Meyer, are also central figures, war refugees, and Hungarian Jews.

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