ENG4U1 – 01
December 8, 2014
Fear of Taking Risks
Introduction: Humans are fearful of the unknown, they hesitate choosing between taking risks or avoiding them at all costs. Sometimes, their indecision leads humans to become stagnant, unable to test themselves to their limits. In T.S. Eliot’s “ The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock” and Steve Toltz’ A Fraction of The Whole the protagonists Prufrock and Martin Dean struggle to be actively involved with society and life. Whether it is their inability to integrate into community or their avoidance to change. The similarities between Prufrock and Martin underscore Eliot and Toltz’ suggestion that humans should take risks in order to live a fulfilling life.
In T.S. Eliot’s “the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” the main character, Prufrock is an indecisive person who wants to ask out a girl but keeps changing his mind. He convinces himself that he knows all of the results his actions will cause, “For I have known them all already, known them all;” (6) .In Prufrock’s view there is no reason to try anything if he knows all of the end results. In fact, Prufrock exaggerates the risk even further “Do I dare disturb the universe?” (5). Prufrock believes the risk will have a huge effect on his life, changing his monotonous routine, which he always measured out with coffee spoons (6). Therefore he will avoid taking risks such as, entering into society and asking the big question.
Similar to the Eliot’s character is Steven Toltz’, Martin Dean. Dean is a misogynist who loves to read philosophical texts and preach what the authors say. But, rarely takes physical action. In fact, in the eulogy Martin’s son, Jasper Dean writes, “He aspired to change the world around him, but he saw his being solid and unchangeable. He wasn’t interested in testing the limits within himself. How far can someone expand? Can his essence be found and enlarged…It hardly seems to have occurred to him.” ( ). Martin Dean believes...