We are presently living in an era of material affluence. Never before in man's history has the production of goods been so scientifically manipulated by the use of technology; never before have the natural sciences advanced with such speed and skill so that even nature, that unpredictable force of life, has come under its control and the outer limits of our Universe, as a result of scientific exploration has lost its mystery. It is an era in which it is generally believed that Science and Technology are the answer to human suffering, and that in time we will find the key that will open the door to happiness for all. Science and Technology have thus become the religion of the 20th century. Consequently, we find that we are in the autumn of our civilization, our granaries are filled to capacity, and yet the leaves, of the trees of life are falling. Man has not succeeded in finding "happiness", for as Marcuse says, "The people recognize themselves in their commodities; they find their souls in their automobile, hi-fi,set, split-level home, kitchen equipment." Thus man is alienated and isolated from himself and, like a gleaner, is picking up the remaining grains of love and communication rather than capitalizing on them. It is the thesis of this, paper that the advances in Science and Technology, which are seen as a redeemer of the human soul, have achieved the opposite condition and that only by human intercourse can man hope to revive filial affection.
      Looking at our present society, I am struck by the desperation shown by individuals who are seeking ways of finding some meaning to their lives. Young adults and teenagers are running away from home and their parents' values and means of achieving "success."' Their parents, who fail to understand that their children are looking for affection and meaningful relationships keep asking, "Why? we've given them everything possible." But their material offerings do not appear to fulfill the human need for communication and love. These parents, who have struggled all their lives for material success have found little time for their families, and the family structure as an institution has suffered greatly. Children are sent out of the home to attend nursery schools at the age of two, three or four years and early in life they become aware of the need to achieve. They are told that they must receive a good education because education is essential in obtaining a good paying job. They are told that they must be polite, personable, and attractive because these qualities win friends and spouses. Consequently, life begins to appear to exist outside of them, and all too soon the child experiences a feeling of depersonalization. This depersonalization is depicted by the sociologist Robert E. Parks, who writes:
      Everywhere in the Great Society the relations of men which were intimate and personal have been more or less superseded by relations that are impersonal and formal. The result is that in the modern world... every aspect of life seems to be mechanical and rationalized. This is particularly true in our modern cities which are... so largely inhabited by lonely men and women. Where are these young people running to? Many are escaping into the world of drugs, a world they claim where life appears beautiful and where experiences are heightened. Others are engaging in emotionally premature experiences, possibly hoping to find relief from loneliness, and still others are taking part in mass community experiences, such as The White Lake Music Festival where thousands of people joined together to experience communally, a common interest --music, or the mass political demonstrations where thousands have voiced their opposition to discrimination.
      And what about the older members of society? have they been happy in their strivings? The answer must be no. With the advent of the huge corporations, men and women have become numbers on a payroll rather than individuals necessary for the functioning of a company. Automation has threatened many employees with the loss of their jobs. The rapidly changing society has threatened their security. Even religious institutions have lost their influence over the masses. Their material acquisitions provide little comfort, against the threat of fear, loneliness and insecurity. This dissatisfaction is well- stated in the following statement by Sigmund Freud:
One would like to ask: is there...no increase in my feeling of happiness, if I can hear the voice of a child of mine who is living hundreds of miles away or if I can learn in the shortest possible time after a friend has reached his destination that he has come through the long and difficult voyage unharmed? Does it mean nothing that medicine has succeeded in enormously reducing infant mortality and the danger of infection for women in childbirth, and, indeed, in considerably lengthening the average life of a civilized man? ... But here the voice of pessimistic criticism makes itself heard...If there had been no railroad, ... my child would never have left his native town, ... if traveling across the ocean by ship had not been introduced, my friend would never have embarked on his sea voyage...What is the use of reducing infant mortality... when that reduction imposes the greatest restrain on us in the begetting of children... And what good is a long life if it is difficult and barren of joys and if it is so full of misery that awe can only welcome death as a deliverer?
Although Sigmund Freud's interpretation of Technology is a pessimistic one, the point he makes is poignant. Scientific and technological advances alone cannot achieve human happiness. I see that to combat human isolation is communication. Not the communication of the telephone or the mass media but the verbal expression of one's human needs. Man will soon discover that the uniqueness of his being is not altogether unique, but his feelings are shared by millions of others throughout the world. I pose the question: Will our autumn turn into a deadly winter, where even the hope of happiness will be lost, or can man unite with nature (life) and breathe deeply the aromas of love and beauty?


     One may find Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn an extremely independent child for a young boy of fourteen years old. He is first abandoned by his father and then forced to go out on his own. When he grows totally accustomed to his own way of life, the Widow Douglas adopts him exposing him to the strong feelings towards the new restrictions which we all have in society. At this point, the limitations bestowed to him make him feel as cramped and uncomfortable as do his new clothes (190). He heads out on his own with the freedom of the river, but even the river has its own restrictions. He is not alone. There are other people on the river with him, and he cannot ever tell anyone or let anyone suspect who he and Jim really are. The King and the Duke, who would certainly hand them over if they knew who they were, make Huck help them with their schemes. They even take away Jim and Huck's sleeping place, but Huck has no real choice. Huck has an apparent independence which is greater than that which most children have, but, at the same time, is more confined and limited than any other. This ambiguous freedom is not only true for Huck but also for many children today.
     The average teenager today, even in the best family, wants to get away from the confines of the family and find his own individual identity. This is not necessarily something bad. The teenager wants to see who he is himself when there is no one to define him. There is a time when he must be able to stand alone and he wants to be prepared for this first stage of adulthood. During this preparation period, he also wants to enjoy himself. After all, it is true that he will never be a teenager again. Half of himself in adolescence and half aiming for adulthood, he sets off for his life of independence. Like Huck's life on the Mississippi River, the good times are wonderful, but the bad times are oppressing and painful. Independence, although necessary, can be a lonely state of mind. The only ideal independence exists in an ideal world. The teenager has a gift for distorting the size of a problem. He would rather die than get a low grade on his SAT scores. The end of the world comes when his girlfriend breaks up with him. He may even feel the need to get his own extra "medical help" to get the energy to cram for college entrance exams. Whether alone in a school dorm room or among his family at home, he is often consumed with feelings of loneliness and fear of rejection. Although he may have his independence, the restrictions of society allow a "freedom" which takes a great deal of adjusting to. Once out of the confines of the family structure, the young person must survive the cruelties of society without being consumed by the rigid molds which it offers.
     Many times, the restraints brought about by the parent feels greater than any controls on children from the rigid molds we are used to in our society. In the poorest parts of Argentina, mothers leave their newly born babies in the street because they cannot afford to feed them. Most of them die, but many are picked up and raised by young children who have lived through the same treatment. The children raise themselves and, like packs of animals, they survive on their own. All of them beg for food when they see a person who is better off, but one cannot give a child food or money without having ten more children run over for the same treatment. Not surprisingly, their main source of survival is stealing. The condition of these towns is so extreme that they cannot be helped but are given an unlimited "freedom." There is a similarity between this and Pap's treatment of Huck when he locks him in the cabin and leaves him alone for days. Huck enjoys the independence that he does not have at the Widow's house (203). However, he admits that he suffers physically and feels lonely and scared. Pap rejects him even when he is treating him like an animal. The rejection of the Argentine children is also one which originates from the parent and spreads to the whole society. They have nowhere to run, but these restrictions do not come from the customs of their society. The condition begins with the parent who, pressured, supplies this drastic independence.
     The independence of a child turning into an adult and facing adult limitations is not always negative. I cannot imagine Huck Finn dying in the Western Indian Territory after his being the rational survivor on the raft throughout the trip. The Huck we know would probably use the resourceful survival skills he applies from the river adventure to survive his adventures in the "uncivilized" territory and make himself a capable, ingenious man. He is somewhat like a young adult who moves away from home and the influences at home, but finds himself saturated in the molds of his previous homelife. In this same way, Huck lives with the mercy and love which the Widow shows him, the inventiveness of Tom Sawyer, the deceptive cunning of his father, and the caring of Jim. He brings these characteristics together to form his own very special personality. The ingenious Huck fabricates his own death so that he never has to return to any society. He does this a second time when he wants to cut off any connection with the society in which the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords destroy each other, disgusting Huck. But he cannot escape the restrictions, for Jim is a fugitive. Huck feels that he cannot become a permanent part of society again, and he does not want to. Free and independent on the raft with his good friend, he has everything he has ever wanted. He proves to himself that, in a serious atmosphere, he can live without compromising with society. Many people have bargained their desires away to conform in society or family, when influenced by conformity.
     There was a time in my own life when I felt like Huckleberry Finn. I felt I needed the independence from the conformist mold of my family. I simply did not agree with my parents in a specific area. Like Huck, I tried to be happy in my confinement at first. I tried to see it from their point of view, but finally accepted that I was right. My parents may not have been wrong but I certainly was not either. I converted from my set family beliefs, contented and exhilarated. My parents were not as happy when they decided to move away and leave me alone. Still a teenager, I did not know quite what to do with this sudden independence. I went to school, worked, came and went as I pleased, yet I could not shake the feeling that I was imprisoned by the rejection of my family. I gradually adjusted to being on my own, and I made peace with my parents. At this point, I simply could not go back to the dependent state in which I had been. I was not sure if I was independent because I had not compromised and given up anything I believed in, or was still restricted by responsibilities I had never experienced before. These responsibilities could have consumed me and made me quit altogether, but they did not. Time passed and now I see that although we all live an ambiguous freedom, it is freedom. To not let limitations confine us completely as human beings, is greater than even what Huck Finn does. Huck has to run away from society, but we face it everyday. We live in it, we are part of it, but we are our own selves. Even as young adults we can prevent being molded and cramped if we want to. In this way, we hold on to a pure independence, as Huck does when he "light[s] out for the Territory ahead of the rest" (361).

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