The Importance Of Isolation In Plainsong By Kent Haruf

956 Words 4 Pages
Even in secluded areas of the world, people still crave human interaction and long to find somewhere they belong. When the quota for meaningful relationships isn’t met, the isolation can either stifle a person’s potential or force them to make meaningful connections. In literature, small towns are often synonymous with murmurs of gossip and loneliness; Plainsong by Kent Haruf is no different. The environment Haruf places his characters in shapes their personalities and situations implicitly. With fewer individuals to interact with, the setting forces characters to either accept their lack of valuable interactions or seek out others whose companionship is more impactful. The extra effort involved in finding like-minded lonely people is simultaneously …show more content…
Ella’s acceptance of the town’s solitude manifests as depression, which escalates the issues she and her family experience throughout the novel. Holt’s environment makes her claustrophobic and causes her to collapse in on herself due to the tremendous disconnect between her and the other people in the town, especially her children. Bobby and Ike, already lonesome due to their parents’ strained relationship, are abandoned by their mother as she explains “that her leaving [is] going to be better for everyone” (Haruf 120). She does not seamlessly fit into the community in Holt, nor does she try. Instead of attempting to form beneficial bonds with those around her, she further isolates herself by moving into her own apartment, and eventually she decides to “[drive] west to start her next life in Denver” (Haruf 121). Contrary to Victoria, Ella is unable to recognize the advantageous nature of close companions in Holt, resulting in her fleeing the …show more content…
The McPherons, for instance, have never gelled well with others in Holt, and purposefully isolate themselves on their farm, only to take in Victoria in her time of need. These “old solitary [men] need somebody too,” seeing as the life they’ve created for themselves in the country is “too lonesome” with no one but each other to converse with (Haruf 110). Victoria’s presence ultimately alters the McPherons’ lives for the better, as they were previously complacent in their companionship with each other, but lacked truly valuable human interaction .The farmland serves as a physical representation of their new dynamic, an example of how “geography can … develop [a] character:” (Foster 88). Instead of three solitary individuals, they “come together in the most unlikely of circumstances” and function as an entity, reducing their isolation and ultimately bringing about companionship in a desolate town (Mills

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