Ouellette 1 Cara Ouellette 15 March 2009 D.M. Zori Scand 50W The Struggle for Humanity in a Society Which Spurns Individualism Karin Boye in Kallocain explores the varying degrees to which a totalitarian society determines what it means to truly be human, and their rights as humans in the face of a culture where the state is the most important aspect of life. Boye demonstrates these humanstruggles through the guise of several key characters, and their struggle to live without being able to trust fellow humans, have privacy in their actions, make lasting bonds with others, or even be able to make decisions regarding their personal lives. Their feelings toward the Worldstate of her novel and their actions toward its laws and ideas make a powerful statement about a government in which thestate is the highest authority and the most important aspect of life. Karin Boye conveys the idea that a society that crushes the essences of humanity in the name of the state is completely without justification and horribly detrimental to its citizens. Boye chooses to begin this social narrative by distancing her own person from the novel as much as possible, allowing the reader to view the storywithout any preconceptions about the characters or their thoughts or ideas. Even the gender of the protagonist, Leo Kall, is separated from Boye’s own self. This perspective effectively gives the novel a blank slate, and is instrumental in allowing the reader to understand Leo Kall’s character clearly. Boye’s ideas and theories about society are not grafted onto the protagonist, strengthening themessage that she is trying to convey. Because the reader does not begin the novel with any preconceptions about the
Ouellette 2 nature of the society in the novel, Boye’s criticisms of the Worldstate can be viewed objectively, and without passion, as she begins to describe the societal strictures placed upon the characters of her novel. Individualism is an idea that is forsaken in theWorldsate, and Boye uses Kall’s inborn ideas of responsibility to the state to illustrate this aspect of his society. Kall ruminates over the fate of the individual in society, and remarks to himself, “One if so ungrateful, I thought; one is so inclined to personal pleasure and selfishness, even when it concerns something so much greater than the individual’s own pleasures,” (Boye 50). Kall seems to thinkautomatically that the fate of the individual, and their individual wants and ideas, is inherently secondary to the needs of the state, and must not even be considered when making decisions where the state is concerned. These ideas of the fate of the state grossly outweighing the fate of the individual are very alien. Individualism is a quality that is highly praised in some modern societies,especially those which were founded on principals based on ideas of Renaissance humanism. Humanism, as it is thought of in America and many modern societies in Europe and throughout the world, emphasizes the glory of the human spirit and the idea that each person has the right to determine what their life path is. Pico della Mirandola, a prominent humanist, once remarked that upon the creation of theworld, the creator gave to the first man the power to live “to thy longing and according to thy judgement thou mayest have and possess what abode, what form and what functions thou thyself shalt desire,” (Mirandola, 1486). These ideas are familiar to many audiences, and Boye chooses to allow the Wordstate to take a powerful and overriding place in the lives of the characters, which is notsomething that is familiar to most modern readers. This rejection of individualism is a powerful statement of the destructive way in which a government
Ouellette 3 can restrict human individualism to a point where it must rebel in various ways, as evidenced later in the novel by Kall and other key characters. Trust between humans is rejected entirely in the Wordstate, demonstrating the inhuman...
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