In many of the works we have read thus far, a character is isolated or alienated from or in conflict with his or hercultureand/orenvironment. Two prime examples of this dilemma include Leonard Mead in “ The Pedestrian,” and Miss Brill in “ Miss Brill.
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” Labeled as outcasts whether willingly or unwillingly, the main characters struggle to identify with their current environment. Throughout these short stories it is evident they become more and more detached from their surroundings. Throughout Ray Bradbury’s “ The Pedestrian” the main character Leonard Mead is at odds with the brain-dead society he lives in. Everyone in society is the same in how they live their lives; they go to work during the day, stay inside and sit in front of the television every night. Leonard Mead, however, as a true individualist does not do any of these things. In the evening Leonard walks purely for enjoyment, unlike the rest of the 3 million civilians in his city who watch television at nighttime. He considers himself a writer, as he identified to the lone unmanned police cruiser, even in a world where literature no longer exists.
The culmination of his desire to stay outside the norm and go for walks, in addition to his non-profession, makes Leonard Mead an outsider in the world he lives in. In Katherine Mansfield’s “ Miss Brill” the isolation of Miss Brill from her environment is evident all throughout her public Sunday afternoon in the park. Miss Brill, a middle-aged Englishteacherin a French vacation town, imagines her daily routine as if it were a stage. In her reality Miss Brill, along with the rest of the people around her, are actors and actresses going about their weekly performances. She identifies each onlooker and walker-bye with a back-story as to what their role plays in the act. In addition to her vicarious living, Miss Brill personifies her fur. These allusions of Miss Brill and her fantasy come crashing down when she’s forced back to reality, and realizes her true role or lack thereof in the world she lives in.
These characters struggle to find their place within the society and world they live in. Their conflicts with isolation ultimately lead to their downfall. Leonard Mead, an individual amongst conformity, is punished for his seemingly abnormal way of life. Likewise, Miss Brill is punished with her own reality when her allusions and fantasy world cease to exist.