The Comet

The first thing I noticed in this story is the sense of alienation portrayed through the character Jim.  In the first line alone he is standing and “watching the human river…”(253).  I think it is funny because the fact that he uses the word ‘human’ makes the sentence seem inhuman.  I feel like I would normally describe that scene as a bunch of people or very crowded streets.  Then they wanted him to go into the vault because it was “too dangerous for more valuable men.”  This little line, again still on the very first page, let me know that our first character isn’t held in too high esteem within society.  I honestly didn’t know what to think of this character until a later line.  “He had not noticed before that he was a Negro” followed by “He had not thought of her as white”(259)  Pretty potent stuff.  He probably only thought of himself as a ‘Negro’ because of the way Julia looked at him.  In a world where everyone seems to have died but yourself, why would you care what your race is?  Under such circumstances, he obviously sees her and just sees a woman.  I appreciate how the author is using science fiction in order to shed light upon social issues, such as racism.  I think it’s important to note that we as readers find out Jim’s race only when he meets white Julia for that first time and is really made to feel like a ‘Negro’.  Thanks to this setting where a comet has somehow killed everybody with gas, we can appreciate equality through this lone wolf character Jim.  Given the time in which this story was written, I think that readers back then would learn from the ending – about how pointless racial hatred seems, given that Jim saved Julia simply for being a fellow human.

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