William accept the society and social ways that

William Bell’s story, Crabbe, is a tale about a young and intelligent man who is preparing to embark into the adult years of his life and claim his own independence. However, Franklin Crabbe, a senior high school student who struggles to find his place in society and in the world, does not transition into his adult life smoothly. His world is fraught with difficulties and obstacles, alienation and loneliness, resentment, sorrow, and depression. Despite the fact that Crabbe’s life is in many ways impoverished in what he needs to thrive as an intelligent young man, he eventually discovers through his journey and hardships that it is ultimately himself who proves to be the main source of conflict in his life. What is immediately noticeable about Franklin Crabbe is that he simply doesn’t fit in anywhere. Whether in his own family home or among his peers at school, Crabbe has a proclivity to stand out, even if that means staying in the background or out of sight. He simply refuses to conform and accept the society and social ways that he has been born into, and this torments him continually, and yet it is what allows him to remain himself. Crabbe is a staunchly antisocial character during the early stages of the story; he drank heavily to the point of inducing numb indifference to his life and others and reflected that he had “no real friends” (Bell, 88) at the time. His experience with his own mother and father reflected the same pain, numbed by drug and alcohol abuse: And I wasn’t alone. My Mother swallowed valiums every day; my Father drank heavily, if you counted the wonderful business lunches and what he poured down at home; lots of kids at school smoked grass regularly and drank at parties. I was no different. (26) As Crabbe tells the story of his parents own means of escaping reality the description of how he ‘wasn’t alone’ and ‘was no different’ serves as an ironic expression of his true feelings in the face of the conflict he faces as he remains stuck in a life that does not speak to his true nature or allow him to express his inner self. He was not alone in his loneliness because his parents were in their own way isolated from the family and from the reality of their lives, and the idea the Crabbe is no different amounts to nothing more than a lament at being born into and temporarily trapped into a shallow existence that can only be endured with the dissociating help of alcohol and drugs. Unable or unwilling to step outside of the numbing monotony of this lifestyle, Crabbe too turned to alcohol to escape the existential pain of his life. His will to live unconsciously however gets the better of him, and he begins to not just blind himself to the reality of his life, but to live in denial of his problems, refusing to admit in his own thoughts that he had become an alcoholic: “A lot of people would say I had a drinking problem. I’d have denied that. People only have a problem if they can’t get what they want…I always had money for liquor.” (26). It is evident that Crabbe’s need to escape the society and life that he was born into has brought him to make the decision to turn against his own awareness of reality and of himself. By removing himself from the world through drinking and antisocial behaviour, Crabbe sets his mind and his life against himself, and in this turning away and inversion of his own consciousness and integrity he imposes upon his life the most challenging obstacle that he has ever faced: himself. This lifestyle of isolation and drunkenness is similarly intolerable to Crabbe, but it is also one that has a much more limited lifespan, as being continually drunk and alone is very damaging to one’s well-being. Eventually Crabbe admits that this self-imposed dissociated isolation and the resultant loneliness is entirely his own doing. After he decides to physically remove himself from his intolerable life and enter into nature, he leaves behind the unberable social structure he has always known and gives up alcohol; it is then that Crabbe begins to discover his own nature and how he can make his unique place in the world. Reflecting on his past, Crabbe’s own words convey the attitude he held toward his life: “I thought a lot about loneliness. How I sometimes felt alone in a crowd of other kids, in the school gym at an assembly… How I went through my day with no real friends. How our formal dinners at home were three people “in solitary,” condemned, it seemed, forever. How my life was symbolized by a mental picture I carry around in my head: a teenager alone in his room, staring into the T.V. screen, hating whatever programme is on, sipping on vodka, waiting for sleep.” (88) What is of principle interest in Crabbe’s monologue is that he “thought a lot about loneliness”. It is no coincidence that Crabbe chooses to succumb to numb dissociative power of alcohol, or that he later chooses to flee from society and live a life within the wilderness. In all of this dissociation and escape from the people and society that has surrounded him throughout the entirety of his life, Crabbe is fundamentally defining what he is not – other people. Through this willful and emphatic dissociative process, he is removing himself from an environment that is intolerable to his inner nature, and by entering into the wilderness of nature he is able to finally find himself. By finally dissociating himself from the unbearable society and life that he had always known, Crabbe is able to find a glimmer of his nature and discover the root of his problem of loneliness and dissatisfaction: “…it was mostly my fault. Oh, I like to blame them, blame them all. But it was me… I lay there all night, trying to figure the answer. Was my life very different from others’? Were we all alone, in spite of the illusion of comfort from other people? …All I knew was that my loneliness was mostly my own fault.” (88-89). Crabbe’s anti-social behaviour, his alcoholism and his conscious choice to leave his life behind and embark into the heart of nature ultimately led him to find his own true self. It was only by leaving behind his family, his society and all of his old habits and vices that Crabbe was able to discover that the true source of his suffering had always been his own conscious decision to set himself apart and seek for another way to live. In this way, Crabbe’s biggest conflict was himself, but it is also his saving grace.

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