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Jason Dunst April 1, 1999 C. P. English Is. Wade The Reflections of Gore Vidal There are many people in today s society that would love to have their views published forthe whole world to view, but few can match the wit and originality of Gore Vidal.
Vidal is the author of many short stories, novels, playwrights, and movie scripts. Gore Vidal has been and continues to be an influential figure in American literature. One of Vidal s most effective strategies as a writer has been to make the public aware of his opinions through his very popular and controversial works. Gore Vidal is an opinionated man with strong beliefs on many aspects of modern American culture.
Gore Vidal is a man who likes to provoke controversy. The works of Gore Vidal revolves around three main themes: human behavior, politics, and homosexuality. These are Vidal s favorite subjects to write about because they are all something he deals with every day of his life. Readers of Gore Vidal should realize that he is out to shock the public with his beliefs, and accomplishes this task quite well by being in favor of homosexuality. Gore Vidal sees nothing but positive outcomes should homosexuality become an accepted practice. According to American Writers The consequences of publishing a gay novel in 1948 were severe, and Vidal s literary career nearly ground to a premature halt (681).
With the publication of The City and the Pillar, Vidal became ostracized by his fellow writers and the public as well. Homosexuality is not an accepted practice today by many, and since it was less common in 1948, some became enraged and refused to buy any of his work (681). For years Vidal could not sell anything because he had already been labeled as an advocate of homosexuality. In an interview with Salon, Vidal said that thought that within the next century the government would encourage homosexuality to decrease the population (3).
Gore Vidal believes that children are no longer needed and that they are only taking up valuable space in today s world (3). Mr. Vidal believes that by promoting Dunst 2 homosexuality the over crowding will cease to be a problem (3). He refuses to have children because he thinks he will only be adding to the world s population problem. (Vidal, Gore 683) Vidal also sees the practice of homosexuality as a cure for sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. Vidal thinks that by eliminating all male and female intercourse the sexually tranmitteddiseases will eventually cease to be passed on as he believes this is the safest form of sexualintercorse. (684) One of Gore Vidal s more popular beliefs is that women should never be abused.
He shows this side of him after making an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. Cavett wanting to increase his ratings asked Vidal to make an appearance on his show along with his arch rival Norman Mailer. The altercation started after Vidal compared Mailer to Charles Manson, this led toan on-air altercation (234). This altercation was also the product of Mailer being drunk and calling Vidal queer. The story told by Karen Rood in her American Literary Almanac is that both guests declined but agreed to come on the show separately and were booked back-to-back (Rood 234). Vidal brought up the fact that Mailer had stabbed his wife, which infuriated Mailer to the point that walked off the show.
This fight probably started over Vidal s beliefs about homosexuality, which angered many of his peers. However, both men have since settled their differences. This shows that while Vidal will stand up for what is right he isn t going to let someone bully his or her beliefs on him. he will always stand up for what he believes to be correct. Gore Vidal uses one of his greatest interests as the theme for many of his works politics.
Politics are in Vidal s blood. He has family ties to John F. Kennedy, through Jackie Kennedy, with whom he shares a stepfather and Al Gore, who is Vidal s cousin. Vidal describes Kennedy and Truman as the most dangerous presidents of this century (Salon 3). Vidal thinks that Truman was dangerous because he feels that Truman started the Cold War, putting the lives of millions of Americans in jeopardy. Kennedy made Vidal s most dangerous presidents list for instigating the Cuban missile crisis, but he also gives Kennedy and Khruschev credit for identifying the fact that the crisis could have end life as it is today (6).
A website devoted to Vidal and his work, Gore Dunst 3 (Eugene Luther) Vidal, One goal Gore has had is to someday become president of the United States of America (1). When asked what his first executive decision would be if he ever became president, Vidal replied by saying he would cut the Pentagon s funding by two-thirds, lower taxes the middle class and raise taxes on corporations, and spend more money on national health cared education (Salon 6). It is obvious that Gore Vidal wants to hold the position of president of the United States, but he now feels it is too late in his life to do anything about it. Vidal believes in his principles and would probably do anything necessary to accomplish his goals.
In the year 1956, Gore Vidal published a compilation of seven short stories in his book, A Thirsty Evil. This set of stories has intrigued readers for the past five decades due to its content. These stories are examples of what makes Vidal the successful writer he is today, but three of these stories stand out as the most memorable. The Robin, A Moment of Green Laurel, and Pages From an Abandoned Journal are the most intriguing stories in this classi book. All of these stories include personal thoughts and views of the American culture as seen by Gore Vidal. The following are key examples of Vidal s thoughts being included in A Thirsty Evil.
The Robin is a story that expresses Vidal s discontent with the abuse of women. Ironically the story opens with the main character describing his love for death, pain, suffering, and torture. He also describes the fact that he loves to look at magazines with pictures of young women being tortured. This fascination began after a teacher in elementary school had destroyed his sculpture of a Roman warrior, which the teacher said was not suitable for class because the sculpture had short pants. She squashed the sculpture and this is the only memory the boy has of school other than where he picked up his love for torture (Vidal 35). The boy and his friend Oliver found a wounded robin and decided the bird was beyond helping and decided to stone it.
After killing the bird, the boys cried and the young boy stated that he was scarred for life. Vidal is sending the message that no matter how bad a woman hurts a man he should never bring harm that woman. He does this by making the bird the victim and beginning of the boy s love for torture. Dunst 4 Vidal uses the incident in the boy s life to explain why he has the fascination, but also to explain why the boy never acts on his instincts, for fear of killing someone. This is one of Vidal s more popular beliefs exemplified in his writing. Vidal also uses one of his stories to explain the pain and agony a homosexual goes through from life until death in Pages From an Abandoned Journal.
In this story Vidal writes about a homosexual character, Elliot in the journal of a close friend of Elliot s. Elliot was also addicted to drugs and constantly given shock therapy to try to cure him of his drug addiction. Vidal uses the shock therapy to symbolize the pain and suffering a homosexual goes through. In another part of the story Vidal describes how Elliot was arrested because a young boy named Andr stole a camera in his house and told his parents that Elliot gave it to him for spending the night with him. Andr s parents immediately went to the police who arrested Elliot and put him in jail. Not long after being released Elliot is found dead in his room, supposedly due to the shock therapy he had received for his drug problem.
However, an autopsy showed that Elliot had a malformed heart, which caused his death (Vidal 120). Elliot s malformed heart symbolizes the broken heart a homosexual has due to the discrimination they are faced with. Vidal portrays Elliot as a drug addiction show that people have more important things to worry about than what sex they prefer. The shock therapy symbolizes the pain that a homosexual faces during his life.
A Moment of Green Laurel is probably Vidal s most autobiographical story in A Thirsty Evil. It portrays his views on politics and family. The story is about a young man who returns home Washington D. C.
from New York. Upon his arrival, he goes to a parade during Inauguration Day for the new president of the United States (Vidal 42). During the parade he sees the ghost ohio grandfather, which startles him, and he leaves the parade (43). While walking he encounters around woman who invites him to a party in her hotel room. He accepts and is surprised to find his mother at the party. After conversing with his mother he leaves the party and walks past his old house, where he grew up.
After arriving at the house he meets a young boy who claims his grandfather built the house. The man says that his grandfather built the house and they argue until Dunst 5 the boy is called home (49). Vidal hints in this story that he would like to be president and serve the country as its leader. Vidal also makes reference to how much the people loved the new president, which is probably how he feels the American public would receive him if he were elected president the United States. He is also making reference to a dysfunctional family, which is similar to his. Vidal s parents divorced and his mother remarried many times, much like the mother in this story (50).
Vidal is trying to make a statement on how he believes that politics ruin families. Vidal thinks that politicians spend more time on his or her job than their families. This causes the families throw apart. Gore Vidal uses A Moment of Green Laurel to discuss his views on the American culture and the direction it is headed.
Vidal sees the American culture headed towards more emphasis placed on success and less placed on family morals and support. When writing A Thirsty Evil Gore Vidal included his opinions of the American culture, politics, women, and homosexuality. Vidal writes to catch the reader s attention and he does so by describing the controversial subjects he has strong opinions on and can back up. The reader mayor agree with all of Vidal s beliefs, but the reasoning and stories behind his beliefs keep the reader interested in his work. Gore Vidal has mastered the technique many should learn in order to express our opinions in a country where its citizens are given and encouraged to use freedom of expression. Dunst 6 Gore (Eugene Luther) Vidal (1925 -).
p. 1. Online. Internet. Available: web > 8. Mar. 1999. Gore Vidal.
American Writers, 1996. Rood, Karen. American Literary Almanac. New York: Broccoli Clark Layman, Inc. , 1988. The Salon Interview: Gore Vidal, Salon pp. 7. Online.
Internet. Available: web > 9. Mar. 1999. Vidal, Gore. A Thirsty Evil. New York: Signet Books, 1956.
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