Running Man Analytical Essay

1091 words - 5 pages

Running Man Analytical Essay
How effectively does Bauer explore the resilience of the human spirit in this novel?

Despite experiencing trauma in our lives, we are all capable of bouncing back from adversity. Bauer effectively explores the resilience to do that through his characters in ‘The Running Man’ (Bauer, 2004); he paints their ability to rebound after traumatic events. Through the use of three-dimensional characters, each character is brought to life as the author provides us with their experiences. Bauer utilises a three-part novel structure that reveals the characters history and growth. It symbolically mirrors the life cycle of the silkworm, and the reader slowly ...view middle of the document...

272). Tom responds to Josef’s friendship and is eventually able to bounce back from his traumatic experiences, finally unpacking the baggage he carries, and discovering a true friend.

Bauer structures his novel in three distinct parts. Each part of the novel bears a phrase from Douglas Stewart’s poem ‘The Silkworms’, and each reveals more about the characters. In part one, ‘All their Lives in a Box’, Tom Leyton and Josef are locked inside their cocoons of fear, and the running man unceasingly runs his agitated, “lopsided canter” (Bauer, 2004, p. 25). Tom is continually haunted by his heart-wrenching experiences in Vietnam, where his friend and a young boy were murdered (Bauer, 2004, p. 223), and Josef has to deal with a disadvantaged childhood deprived of fatherhood. Part two, ‘In A Dream too Deep’, discloses the true history of the characters, revealing that Josef’s ‘running man’ is really Simon Jamieson, a man haunted by the horrific burning of his wife and child. Finally part three, ‘That Pang of Joy’, culminates the novel with a bittersweet conclusion; Tom Leyton finally learns to love again and covers the mulberry tree in silkworm cocoons – a sight that was “more miraculous than any dream” (Bauer, 2004, p. 258) – but unfortunately dies while creating his ‘miracle’ for Josef. As the book progresses, Tom and Josef face up to their past traumatic experiences, and through the discovery of friendship find the strength to bounce back from adversity.

The silkworms symbolically (Messoussa, 2016) encapsulate Tom Leyton and Josef’s lives. As the poem The Silkworms’ (Stewart, 1957) describes, the creatures spend their whole lives trapped in a box. This symbolizes Tom Leyton’s life, as he shuts himself away from the world – always running from himself, his past, and his baggage – and even describes silkworms as having become, ‘[his] metaphor for life.” (Bauer, 2004, p. 154) Josef also locks himself in a realm of fear; fear of the Running Man with “eyes burning with a desperate fire” (Bauer, 2004), of the mysterious Mr Leyton with a “face, silent as stone” (Bauer, 2004), and fear of the angst episode with his Father. However, at some point the silkworms’ finally break...

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