20th century writers dealt with many issues and themes throughout their writing. The authors that I have chosen to look at are Updike, Beatti, Rothke and Plath. These authors and their works will each be evaluated by how they deal with the subjects love, death, loss and passing of time.
The short story “ Separating “ by John Updike deals with the subject of love and I also believe it deals with the themes “ quest for identity” and “ alienation and nausea “. The story talks about how two parents are going through the process of telling their children that they are going to separate. This is important to them because they do love their children very much; they want to make the timing perfect so it is easier on the children. The father and mother seemed as though they needed to find out who they really were without their children. They did all things for the kids. They said that they loved one another but yet they didn’t make each other happy. I think that they just weren’t sure what made them “happy”.
“Weekend “ a short story by Ann Beattie deals with the subject of “ loss of time “ and the same theme that Updikes story dealt with “ quest for identity “ .I chose the subject of time because at first they loved one another and had a good relationship and then time passed and they ended up in such a weird place in their relationship. George had control over Lenore in the way that she never knows that she can leave him and be okay. She stays with him because she does care for him but also because she has a place to put her children and herself to sleep.
“Wish for a Young Wife “ a poem by Theodore Rothke is one that goes into the subject of loss or the idea of loss. This is a man who is telling his wife that he hopes that even while he grows old he wishes that she were beautiful and young for eternity. H e wishes her to never endure grief or hate; these are the very things that make one old. He could be very much in love with his wife and by wishing this for her, so she never looses her beauty. Or, he could be wishing these things for his benefit so he never looses his beautiful young wife.
Sylvia Plath’s poem “ Lady Lazarus “ deals mainly with the subject of death. I’m not sure completely but this could be “ humor in the horror “, I know it is not “ a nightmare world “ but, “ pick the worms off of me like sticky pearls “ is some sort of gross humor. She discusses her 3 suicide attempts, comparing herself to a cat with 9 lives. She also includes a comparison of herself to a concentration camp victim. She states “ dying is an art … I do it exceptionally well.” Doctors are her enemy and she warns them to “ beware”.
Overall in most literature you can see a little of death, love, loss and a loss of time. These subject matters are used so frequently because those things are life. They are the things people feel strongly about. People relate and understand these topics.