The Reflections Of Gore Vidal Essay, Research Paper
Jason DunstApril 1, 1999C.P. English IVMs. WadeThe 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 theauthor of many short stories, novels, playwrights, and movie scripts. Gore Vidal has been andcontinues to be an influential figure in American literature. One of Vidal s most effective strategiesas a writer has been to make the public aware of his opinions through his very popular andcontroversial works. Gore Vidal is an opinionated man with strong beliefs on many aspects ofmodern American culture. Gore Vidal is a man who likes to provoke controversy. The works of Gore Vidal revolvesaround three main themes: human behavior, politics, and homosexuality. These are Vidal sfavorite 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, andhe accomplishes this task quite well by being in favor of homosexuality. Gore Vidal sees nothingbut positive outcomes should homosexuality become an accepted practice. According to AmericanWriters The consequences of publishing a gay novel in 1948 were severe, and Vidal s literarycareer 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 anaccepted practice today by many, and since it was less common in 1948, some became enragedand refused to buy any of his work (681). For years Vidal could not sell anything because he hadalready been labeled as an advocate of homosexuality. In an interview with Salon, Vidal said thathe thought that within the next century the government would encourage homosexuality todecrease 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 2homosexuality the over crowding will cease to be a problem (3).He refuses to have childrenbecause 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 asAIDS. 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. Heshows this side of him after making an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. Cavett wanting toincrease his ratings asked Vidal to make an appearance on his show along with his arch rivalNorman 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 callingVidal queer. The story told by Karen Rood in her American Literary Almanac is that both guestsdeclined 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 thathe 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. Thisshows that while Vidal will stand up for what is right he isn t going to let someone bully his or herbeliefs 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, withwhom he shares a stepfather and Al Gore, who is Vidal s cousin. Vidal describes Kennedy andTruman as the most dangerous presidents of this century (Salon 3). Vidal thinks that Truman wasdangerous because he feels that Truman started the Cold War, putting the lives of millions ofAmericans in jeopardy. Kennedy made Vidal s most dangerous presidents list for instigating theCuban 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 UnitedStates of America (1). When asked what his first executive decision would be if he ever becamepresident, Vidal replied by saying he would cut the Pentagon s funding by two-thirds, lower taxeson the middle class and raise taxes on corporations, and spend more money on national health careand education (Salon 6). It is obvious that Gore Vidal wants to hold the position of president of theUnited States, but he now feels it is too late in his life to do anything about it. Vidal believes in hisprinciples and would probably do anything necessary to accomplish his goals. In the year 1956, Gore Vidal published a compilation of seven short stories in hisbook, A Thirsty Evil. This set of stories has intrigued readers for the past five decades due to itscontent. These stories are examples of what makes Vidal the successful writer he is today, butthree of these stories stand out as the most memorable. The Robin, A Moment of GreenLaurel, and Pages From an Abandoned Journal are the most intriguing stories in this classic
book. All of these stories include personal thoughts and views of the American culture as seen byGore 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, andtorture. He also describes the fact that he loves to look at magazines with pictures of youngwomen being tortured. This fascination began after a teacher in elementary school had destroyedhis sculpture of a Roman warrior, which the teacher said was not suitable for class because thesculpture had short pants. She squashed the sculpture and this is the only memory the boy has ofschool other than where he picked up his love for torture (Vidal 35). The boy and his friend Oliverfound a wounded robin and decided the bird was beyond helping and decided to stone it. Afterkilling the bird, the boys cried and the young boy stated that he was scarred for life. Vidal issending the message that no matter how bad a woman hurts a man he should never bring harm tothat woman. He does this by making the bird the victim and beginning of the boy s love for torture. Dunst 4Vidal uses the incident in the boy s life to explain why he has the fascination, but also to explainwhy the boy never acts on his instincts, for fear of killing someone. This is one of Vidal s morepopular beliefs exemplified in his writing. Vidal also uses one of his stories to explain the pain and agony a homosexual goesthrough from life until death in Pages From an Abandoned Journal. In this story Vidal writesabout a homosexual character, Elliot in the journal of a close friend of Elliot s. Elliot was alsoaddicted to drugs and constantly given shock therapy to try to cure him of his drug addiction. Vidaluses the shock therapy to symbolize the pain and suffering a homosexual goes through. In anotherpart of the story Vidal describes how Elliot was arrested because a young boy named Andr stole acamera 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 longafter being released Elliot is found dead in his room, supposedly due to the shock therapy he hadreceived 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 ahomosexual has due to the discrimination they are faced with. Vidal portrays Elliot as a drug addictto show that people have more important things to worry about than what sex they prefer. Theshock 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 ThirstyEvil. It portrays his views on politics and family. The story is about a young man who returns hometo Washington D.C. from New York. Upon his arrival, he goes to a parade during InaugurationDay for the new president of the United States (Vidal 42). During the parade he sees the ghost ofhis grandfather, which startles him, and he leaves the parade (43). While walking he encounters ayoung woman who invites him to a party in her hotel room. He accepts and is surprised to find hismother at the party. After conversing with his mother he leaves the party and walks past his oldhouse, where he grew up. After arriving at the house he meets a young boy who claims hisgrandfather built the house. The man says that his grandfather built the house and they argue until Dunst 5the boy is called home (49). Vidal hints in this story that he would like to be president and serve thecountry 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 presidentof 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 thinksthat politicians spend more time on his or her job than their families. This causes the families togrow apart. Gore Vidal uses A Moment of Green Laurel to discuss his views on the Americanculture and the direction it is headed. Vidal sees the American culture headed towards moreemphasis 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 bydescribing the controversial subjects he has strong opinions on and can back up. The reader maynot agree with all of Vidal s beliefs, but the reasoning and stories behind his beliefs keep the readerinterested in his work. Gore Vidal has mastered the technique many should learn in order toexpress our opinions in a country where its citizens are given and encouraged to use freedom ofexpression.
Dunst 6 Gore (Eugene Luther) Vidal (1925- ). p.1. Online. Internet. Available: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi> 8. Mar. 1999. Gore Vidal. American Writers, 1996.Rood, Karen. American Literary Almanac. New York: Bruccoli Clark Layman, Inc., 1988. The Salon Interview: Gore Vidal, Salon pp.7. Online. Internet. Available: http://www.salon/1999.com> 9. Mar. 1999.Vidal, Gore. A Thirsty Evil. New York: Signet Books, 1956.