Order and dis-order are very important literature elements in the three pieces selected for analysis in this essay. Throughout the semester, many pieces of literature have been read containing the themes of order and dis-order. Three of the pieces stood apart in a sense by their poignant content. The first of these pieces was Fences, a play composed by August Wilson which takes place in racially divided Pittsburgh in the year 1957. The second of these pieces is Kubla Khan, an interpretation of a dream containing the Chinese ruler in the 13th century written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The final piece if Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, a short story from Tim O’Brien’s collection of Vietnam War themed stories, The Things They Carry. All three of these pieces have a clear interpretation and sense of following the themes of order and dis-order. The two subpoints that I plan to explore are the ones of fantasy and reality. All of these pieces have an element of fantasy that the characters want to fulfill. Down the road, the perceived fantasies catch up to the characters at a point in the book and reality sets into place after the fantasy clearly can not work within the boundry of the book. Fantasy is what people crave when in actuality, reality is the element that works out best for all in the long run whether it be in the confines of a book or in real life.
Fantasy is one thing that many characters in literature pieces want to happen. In Fences, Kubla Khan and the Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, the main characters all desire a fantasy either to occur or to keep it going in the confines of the literature. Troy, the main character in Fences strictly forbids his son Cory from playing football at his school after Cory tells him how he is being recruited and being persuaded to become a member of the football team. Try is not at all happy with this situation. His fantasy is for Cory to not gamble with his future by playing football and to take the safe route and take up a trade that would ensure him a decent career and wage in the future. He tells Rose that, “I told him that when he first came to me with it. Now you come telling me he done went and got more tied up with it. He ought to go and get recruited in how to fix cars or something where he can make a living.” (Wilson 1304) Clearly Troy has his fantasy of Cory not playing football in his mind. In Kubla Khan, the main character has a fantasy in their mind of a paradise where everything was flawless. They called this paradise Xanadu. The entire landscape was one with nothing but perfection that went on for miles and miles. It was perceived as one were nothing could fail or not go wrong. The landscape is clearly described as “With walls and towers were girdled round: And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.” (Coleridge 526) To the main character Xanadu was a fantasy that they thought would never fade away or fall apart. Nothing could go wrong here. In Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, Mark Fossie has the fantasy to bring in his innocent girlfriend Mary Anne deep into the jungle of Vietnam to be his companion and to keep him company. Even though Eddie Diamond does not believe he can pull it off, Mark arranges for a helicopter to pick up Mary Anne and bring her to the base where he is stationed out of. Mary Anne gets quickly adjusted to the jungle life in Vietnam. Along with Mary Anne being present, the entire base is one without boundaries and some sense of direction. At this base, there was “No officers, either. You could let your hair grow, he said, and you didn’t have to polish your boots or snap off salutes or put up with the usual rear-echelon nonsense. Except for a rare field inspection there was no such thing as military discipline.” (O’Brien 91) Mark Fossie desires for the fantasy of having his girlfriend by his side at this unorthodox base he is stationed at. Eventually all of these characters are going to have to deal with change due to their non perceivable fantasies carrying on.
Reality is the important step in the process that shows these characters that their fantasies will not work in actuality. It steps in and completely crushes their fantasies forever. Before Troy dies in Fences, Cory quits his job at A and P and starts playing football for his school. Troy is not happy about this. He eventually passes away with his fantasy being shattered. Cory then tells his mother that he will not be at his father’s funeral. He is going to shun his father. Cory responds to his mother by saying “I can’t drag Papa with me everywhere I go. I’ve got to say no to him. One time in my life I’ve got to say no. I don’t want to be Troy Maxson. I want to be me.” (Wilson 1358) Troy’s definitive attempt to put a sense of order into Troy’s direction falls apart at the seams with Cory making the opposite of decisions that would his father would approve of.
The main character in Kubla Khan’s fantasy of a perfect society and world gets shattered. Their quest for perfection is interrupted with the emergence of the God like figure’s presence when they see that the perfect society can not carry on and function as it does. The God like figure’s presence comes about and it is noted that “And all should cry, Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair!” (Coleridge 527) The fantasy of a perfect society falls apart and the reality of a God like figure shows his face and lets all know that they are present and that change is ever coming. Mark Fossie’s dream of having his girlfriend by his side at all times is one that can not carry on realistically. Mary Anne adjusts well to life in the Vietnamese jungle and that takes a toll on their relationship. She goes off on missions for days at a time and cuts off contact with Mark. When she eventually disappears in the jungle, an all out search and a question about her whereabouts occurs. During this process, “The Tra Bong compound went crazy with MP and CID types. In the end, however, nothing came of it. It was a war and the war went on.” (O’Brien 115) The reality of becoming a product of the Vietnamese landscape swallowed Mary Anne whole and shattered Mark Fossie’s dream. She became another number added to the missing list and not affecting the war one bit. All the characters had to deal with reality kicking in at some point after their fantasies could not go on any longer.
Through all the literature pieces that were mentioned, the concept of fantasy and reality should be kept in continuous use. It shows people that what they actually need is reality and not the fantasy that everybody wants to occur. Literature pieces should continue this practice. This would keep literature reading interesting.