Fear is an emotion whereas doubt is a condition. Some kind of physical, social, cultural, political and psychological fear is very natural since human beings are “social animals” and their mind is shaped accordingly. In one hand, fear and doubt can be source of strength, on the other hand, they can be source of tragedy. However, if one can keenly observe and analyze their causes and solutions, then strength and healing arise out of tragedy and loss. Similarly, the source of doubt and fear is different according to person.
In ‘Communist’, Richard Ford presents characters with full of doubt and fear. First, the narrator Les is full of doubt about the people and their action. He reflects, “I don’t know what makes people do what they do, or call themselves what they call themselves, only that you have to live someone’s life to be the expert.” Second, he is in dilemma that whether it is necessary to “live someone’s life to be the expert”. Similarly, he is skeptical about the relationship of Glen and his mother. He even “didn’t know why she was so mad at him”. However, he says that he doesn’t like “his mother being around the house so much at night and wished Glen would come back or that another man would come along and entertain her somewhere else.” We do not know why he is so fearful towards his mother.
Aileen might be so mad at Glen because he’s hunting animals and she probably doubts about his abilities to do that. After he succeeds at shooting geese, she’s nice because he actually accomplished something that was good. But she was against this whole idea of hunting. Les’s mother slowly starts questioning of Baxter’s whereabouts and the whole idea of hunting geese as she says, “they mate for life”. We don’t know whether “mating” is the relationship she would want with Glen but the way she behaved and responded to Glen is strange. She pretends to love Glen but in reality, she does not. At last she is able to express her unconscious feeling. “There’s nothing to love in you. You’re just a son of bitch, that’s all”, she says.
Fear of death is dominant in human life, so does in this story. There is a lot of reference to death in this story. Les even thinks that who would kill Glen. At the end of story, when she asks Len whether she is still feminine, he explains this situation as “the train is coming, and you know you have to decide”. This doubt whether to choose of not is solved quickly when he replied, “Yes, I do.” There is the fear of the son since he is very close with Glen, simultaneously the fear of the mother since the son doesn’t like his mother being close with glen Baxter. Moreover, the killing of the geese symbolizes the fear of living.
In Abdeslam Boulich’s short story ‘Cowrdice’, the Christian was afraid to get into heaven by telling lie. However, the Moslem and the Jew enters into the heaven by telling lie to Lord Solomon. The Christian “was afraid to try to get in by lying” reflects the fear within him. Through this short story, one can conclude that fears are sometimes cultural, sometimes religious, and sometimes social and so on. Thus, fear is nothing but what has been taught by our norms and values. What happens if we lie? Religious scripture may say one thing, social norms and value may define it in other way whereas legal system may act differently. Thus, if we are able to release fear from our mind, we can accomplish our works. Moreover, even impossible works are possible if we are confident and determined. But the confidence and determination comes when one can won the fear.
The short story entitled ‘Taking a Husband’ by Ha Jin is full of doubts and fear. The central amusing subject of the story “the first night” is presented as if it is very strange thing. It may be natural that unmarried girls are amused about the first night after marriage but the writer here takes help of a newspaper piece to show this. Hong and Lilian discuss the piece titled “Don’t Be Scared on your Wedding Night”. But Hong is really shy to share her feeling. On the other hand Lilian seems to be knowledgeable and matured person since she knows about marriage, relationship etc. If we compare these two characters, we can know more on what fear can do in our life.
Hong is a girl with conservative mind, even she fears to share what she knows and feels about this. One the other hand Lilian is open and rational. Even she helps Lilian to choose Husband because Pang Hai seems to be physically strong. However, Lilian is not happy with her physical beauty. She is not as pleasant as Hong. Even she says, “I wish lots of men were after me, and I’d do it with all of them. Too bad my parents didn’t give me a pretty face like yours.”
The fear within girls in this story is somehow cultural. They are always engulfed with the idea that if they act openly like boys, than they will be termed bad girls. This fear of patriarchy is dominant throughout the story. Similarly, this story mocks at the communist rule since all the people are treated only as the machine. Even small children are used for their mission to terrorize people as “Little Red Guard.”
Another major theme is the story is power. The fear of power is dominant in every society. Hong always dreams of marrying with the person who is able to get the position of commune’s vice chairman but because of the pressure she chooses Pang Hai. But he is not able to get this position. Why she wanted to marry with someone who is powerful? It’s because she will be able to get respect in society. She wanted to regain the political and social power she has experienced when her father was alive. But in the marriage ceremony, because they have organized banquet, the local authority blocked it. After she realized that it was solely her fault, Hong tries to kill herself. She wanted to kill herself because she is the one who insisted Pang to give banquet party even though Pang had already informed that banquet is illegal. It shows how “fear” can be destructive.
In Albert Camus’s ‘The Adulterous Woman’, Janine is in great dilemma whether to choose personal freedom or to be confined with the current social and family boundary. In one hand, she is not happy with her husband Marcel, one the other hand, she cannot leave him. Though Janine doesn’t like her husband and is even unwilling to see him and hesitantly goes with him in the journey, but the cultural value seems to be the net that has intertwined her about losing him unexpectedly. The fear of the culture and patriarchy is dominant in the story. Moreover one can find the fear of dependency in this story, since she hasn’t lived her life without her husband for more than 25 years.
In one hand, she does not want to show her as “bad woman”, on the other hand, she enjoys other males by seeing them. Camus presents symbolic adultery which is prevalent in Janine’s mind but not in action. “The years had passed in semi-darkness behind the half-closed shutters. Summer, the beaches, excursions, the mere sight of the sky were things of the past. Nothing seemed to interest Marcel but business.” It shows how lonely Janine is. This loneliness has created a problematic situation and this is the main cause why she is so fearful with the situation. The sudden glance of a French soldier and a couple of other feelings followed by a long and impassioned emotional storm inside her shows a doubt and complexity in the married life. She is not happy with the situation and she always wants to run away from her husband. Yet, she is not able to choose her way. At the end of the story, she even cries which can also be seen as the outburst of that fear through tears that may seem as a tool for herself to hide from the reality she is associated with.
In RK Narayan’s short story ‘Naga’ we can see fear within humans and animals both. Both father and son snake charmers have fear with each other. At nights the father used to beat his son bitterly. This physical punishment slowly affected the boy psychologically. Similarly the son has the fear of living alone at the end, so he cries. Similarly, fear of the father was from his own son because he was doing better in earning money for the family. But because of the fear of losing money, the father at the end flees. Moreover, the cobra is also fearful. Though he was trying to leave the old cobra initially, later he rescue it. When the boy sees garuda, then he rescue of the cobra and saves its life. In conclusion, we can say that without associating with the nature, men cannot live. So, humans have the fear of being neglected from the nature, so they make themselves intact with the nature.
In Wolfgang Hildesheimer’s short story ‘Why I transformed myself into a Nightingale’ one can see the fear of the society. They are not morally and ethically obliged to what they are but they want to be what they are not. It is easy to see beauty in other creature’s life but hard to live their life.
What happens if one can overcome doubt and fear? If one can be released from fear and doubt, one can live real life. And, living in a real life is like liberation. Having doubts and fear can sometimes be an advantage because sometimes they can be source of strength for human beings. For this one should be able to observe fear and doubt within us objectively, analyze their cause and tries to find the solution. If we are not bale instead of strength and healing, possibility is tragedy and loss.
Modernism: Tales From Around The Globe, 2015, IACER