Free «Nature as the Embodiment of Human Feelings in Frazier's "Nightwoods"» Essay Sample
The novel Nightwoods by Charles Frazier is a tense and complicated story, full of thrilling and even horrific scenes. The storylines of the characters are deeply interwoven with the descriptions of nature. This combination is symbolic. Frazier identifies nature with human emotions and moods. Every chapter displays the flow of natural elements and people’s feelings. The depiction of water, air, woods, and pastures is found within the novel. All these landscapes emphasize the characters’ inner experiences and senses. Moreover, the changes in nature are directly connected to the changes in the characters’ lives. Therefore, the description of the natural environment in Frazier’s Nightwoods can be closely associated with human nature since it helps reveal or hide the characters’ emotions and reinforce the meaning of the story.
Luce’s connection with nature relates closely to her life events. She had been living in the city until she was raped by her teacher, and this crucial moment has changed her life completely. Luce could not stay in the city because everything would remind her of that terrible event. Therefore, a young woman decides to hide from people and move to a distant place. Burnside claims, “Her only resource was to withdraw from society,” and she did it. Thus, Luce’s unity with wild nature, the woods, and the lake emphasizes her desire to stay away from people and be as free as these natural elements. However, she could not live quiet and lonely life because she should take care of her murdered sister’s children, Frank and Dolores. Luce has never thought of having children before, and the news surprised her greatly. Frazier writes, “The day the children came was high summer, the sky sick with humidity and the surface of the lake flat and iron blue” (7). It seems that the weather feels Luce’s mood and her unreadiness to take care of these children. Moreover, these words indicate Luce’s internal state before the children came. She is calm and confident but still, she could not breathe freely because of air humidity. This humidity symbolizes the feeling of a burden, which appears with the children’s arrival. A peak of a season also becomes a peak of Luce’s life, its turning point. As she could not resist hot weather, she is not able to bear the presence of children in her new life. Thus, even nature reinforces Luce’s emotions and makes her inner struggle harder.
Water is another important element of nature presented in the story. It accompanies the characters of the novel when something changes in their lives. Water is represented in different forms: rain, lakes, air humidity, and dew. In the novel, it can be identified with life and recovery: “…the damp air around you thickens with myriad beings dancing up into the daylight they love. Life likes the wet and rewards it” (Frazier 28). This scene occurred when Luce wanted to educate the children comparing water with fire. While she is explaining Frank and Dolores that water means life, she thinks about her own life and tries to accept all the changes she has faced. Any plant, animal, and a human being cannot survive without water. Water purifies a human body and frees the characters from their burdens. Water symbolizes the end of the old life and the beginning of the new one. It gives hope for recovery. For instance, when Bud is near to his end, he begins to reconsider his life while washing his bleeding hands: “Plunges his hands into the cold clear water and watches tendrils of blood flow downstream, trailing away across smooth mica-flecked stones” (Frazier 251). Water washes not only blood but also all unpleasant moments of his life. Although Bud is an antagonist, his soul heals with the help of water. This scene may be considered symbolic because it inspires Bud to think of the happiest and purest moments of his existence. Water cleanses his memory and washes away bad thoughts leaving only good ones. Every person should have a second chance, and water symbolizes this chance. Finally, Bud’s life ends on a positive note, though he must die in the end.
Another essential element of the story is a black hole, which denotes fear and uncertainty. The black hole occurs in the earth and means that something horrible and unexplored may be experienced by those who fall into it. In the novel, no one falls into the black hole; however, its image appears when the protagonist has troubles with the children. For example, the moment when Luce is thinking about the black hole emphasizes her fears and reminds of her obligations towards the twins: “Before these woods and these mountains and the earth and even the sun, there was a black hole filled with black water” (Frazier 71). A black color denotes Luce’s ignorance of how to treat the children and her desire not to let them disappear. She does not know how to behave with them and cultivate the best qualities in them; thus, her constant fear is interwoven with a black hole. Interestingly, another possible meaning of the black hole is hell. According to Rice, “Luce will have to journey through some version of hell in order to save [the children], even as she reminds herself that her duty is only to provide shelter, not love.” A black hole is like a stupor that prevents Luce from doing something wrong and stimulates her to behave cautiously. At the same time, a black hole appears when Frank and Dolores are lost in the forest (Frazier 243). They do not think about the black hole, which means that they are free of fear and are not afraid of nature. Thus, nature helps them survive in the woods and find the way from the forest. Probably, if the children were terrified of the black hole and often thought about it, everything could end differently. However, the author focuses on the fact that human beings are sometimes more dangerous than nature. If people value and protect nature, it assists them in their lives, and if they do not like nature and damage it, it will pay back eventually. Therefore, a hidden meaning of a black hole in the story is the fact that every person has some fears and uncertainties, but he/she should not be afraid of them. On the contrary, every uncertain moment or fearful event must be faced without hesitation. Even the deepest and darkest hole may have a gleam of hope, a way to freedom and happiness. The example of Frank and Dolores’ survival proves this idea.
One can notice that the changes in the weather are often accompanied by the changes in the characters’ lives. One of the most expressive moments of the book is the day of Luce and Stubblefield’s first date. It was a cold rainy day. The transition from summer to autumn symbolizes the change from one period of the characters’ lives to another. Luce accepts his attention and go on a date. However, rainy weather can disclose her hidden feelings as she is not ready to serious relationships. Her heart and soul are as cold as the autumn day. At the same time, one can distinguish another hidden meaning of foul weather. Luce and Stubblefield make a new step closer to their relationships, but the weather is a bad omen. Moreover, it symbolizes the upcoming danger: “Something swirling and tropical pushed heavy air up from the Gulf, the remains of an end-of-season hurricane” (Frazier 163). Nature reacts to Bud’s intentions to threaten Luce. Surprisingly, the weather foreshadows good changes as well. For instance, the moment when Luce decides to search the children alone is accompanied with a good weather. The long attempts to find Frank and Dolores, made by Luce and Stubblefield together, happen during rainy and terrible weather. Suddenly, when Luce lost her hope, the weather changes, and a sunny day symbolizes a happy outcome. The weather gives a new hope, and Luce achieves her goal and finds the children.
After reading the novel Nightwoods by Charles Frazier, one can conclude that the images of nature are the essential parts of the story. Every depiction of a landscape, weather, or the nature elements has a hidden message and a symbolic meaning. Thus, wild nature of the place where Luce lives could be identified with her personality and inner feelings. The representation of water is connected to the characters’ desires to begin new lives and reincarnate, or it symbolizes the beginning of new periods of life. The black hole denotes the characters’ hidden fears and their uncertainty in their actions. At the same time, Frazier represents a black hole as something less horrible than some human beings. If a person cooperates with nature and is not afraid of it, nature helps. The changes in the weather are directly related to the changes in the lives of the protagonists. When the weather is fine, one can suppose that a good moment of life appears. On the contrary, bad and rainy weather foreshadows some terrible events. Thus, Frazier makes the connection between nature and the characters proportional, and every nature element has some relation to the plot. To sum up, nature can be identified with human nature because it reveals people’s feelings and emotions and strengthens the sense of the novel.