People in today's world face many pressures. Discuss some of the pressures faced by the characters in the novel "A cage of Butterflies"
In A Cage of Butterflies by Brian Caswell many of the pressures which face people today are explored. The charecters Larsen, Erik, and Susan face different sorts of pressures. These pressures include Larsen's pressure to achieve scientific glory and fame, the pressure for Susan to continue her brother's scientific work and Erik's pressure to relate to the Scientists and intellectually gifted people that he is surrounded by. Caswell uses the techniques of third person point of view, colloquial language and inverted commas. To explore how pressure affects people. It is obvious that people react to pressure in different ways, both positive and negative, and these reactions can reveal a lot about personality and the ability to behave intelligently and morally in the face if stress. These issues are explored in the novel.
Larsen faces the personal as well as business pressure of aiming to achieve a scientific breakthrough in order to receive glory and fame. He also faces the demands from Raecorp wanting results quicker, as they are funding his studies. Larsen, faced with these pressures, does not react in a positive manner towards his pressures, he doesn't cope with his pressure and ends up having a mental meltdown later on in the novel on page 164 Greg quotes "After he recovered from his breakdown, he couldn't get work. Raecorp had blacklisted him – he couldn't find a job cleaning sewers". Larsen takes out his frustrations on his work collegues and attempts to sedate the babies and Myriam in an effort to produce results at a quicker rate. Larsen is consumed by his desire to achieve fame and focuses solely on his goal, for example on page 39, Larsen expresses his desire for acknowledgement of his scientific discovery; "He smiled. They would name the dicovery after the discoverer. Larsen's syndrome. It had a nice ring to it."
Caswell uses the technique of third person point of view to allow the reader to visualise Larsen's smug attitude in the idea of reaching a scientific breakthrough, the quote visualises his arrogance and his pleasure at the idea of having a syndrome named after himself. From the experiences of this character we learn that when we are blinded by superficial goals and goaded by greed, we lose morality and misplace our values.
Different pressures face Susan, these pressures include the personal pressure she places on herself to complete the work her brother, whose importance in the novel was made clear in the prologue, had left incomplete and unfinished when he died. Susan also faces the pressure of maintaining a relationship with Larsen in order to access files and information that an "outsider" could not, without evoking suspicion from Larsen or McIntyre, she also faces the emotional pressure of over coming her brother's death as well as her pressure of relating to the "think tank". In the novel there is also the very clear and prominent pressure of working for Larsen whose scientific values clearly rise above his moral values, Susan has the pressure of reconciling scientific demands with what is morally correct. This pressure is demonstrated in a quote found on page _ "It's their job to destroy people's peace and quiet if that's what it takes to get the answers". This quote is in referral to scientists and their constant quests for discoveries in which moral values are sometimes ignored. Susan responds to these pressures by joining the farm in order to complete her brother's work, and later on in the novel Susan results in helping the Babies escape Larsen's cruel experimentation, this is shown in a quote found on page 3 of the novel: "Well Richard it's finally over. Maybe now the babies will be at peace". Brian Caswell uses the contrast between short sentences and longer sentences, the shorter sentences were used as a form of finality and closure, contrasting against the gentler and longer sentences. The exploration of these issues reveals to the reader, the importance of getting involved and doing something in order to get what you want, and fighting for something that's worth fighting for, in Susan's case, the babies.
Another sort of pressure faces Erik, he faces the pressure of trying to relate to Susan, (his partner) and the kids in the think tank, whose intelligence levels exceed his own by a vast amount, he has trouble understanding the complex vocabulary/terminology that the other characters use as he is only a helper at the farm instead of an actual scientist who works under Larsen, the pressure he faces of not being able to relate to the think-tank and Susan is demonstrated in a quote found on page 52; "I guess you'd say I was the odd man out. Don't misunderstand me. They never made me feel anything but "one of the team". But facts are facts. Apart from Susan there wasn't one of them over sixteen and they were just so damned clever". In this quote Caswell proves to the reader, Erik's struggle to understand the great minds which reside at the farm. Caswell uses the techniques of Inverted commas to identify a special term in this quote's case "One of the team" that needs to be identified to better understand the story line and where the character Erik, stands in the current situation. Erik responds to these pressures by helping in the novel in many different ways, he does all the physical work, rather than the intellectual, for example; he snuck into the farm and broke windows/fences, so in a way he is the brawn of all the characters in A cage of Butterflies.
From this it is clear that in the novel A cage of Butterflies, Erik is needed to help the plan, constructed by the think tank and Susan to run without a hitch, So the reader's learn that even though Erik is not as smart as the others, Caswell wanted Erik to play a significant role in the novel, regardless of his IQ.
From the novel it is clear that people react in different ways to a wide variety of pressures. Larsen, the pressure of trying to achieve a scientific breakthrough, Susan, the pressure of losing a relative and learning to live with that loss, and Erik who faced the pressure of intellectually relating to those around him at the farm. Larsen, like some people in society today cannot cope with the heavy demands and pressure that is placed upon him, that causing him to have a mental meltdown, whereas Susan and Erik's way of dealing with the pressure is somewhat similar, in that they got down to work and got involved and all in all, tried to overcome their pressures. It is clear that Caswell wanted to demonstrate how there are many different ways that different people deal with pressure, some pressures may be worse than others but can have similar consequences, He uses the techiniques of third person point of view, contrast between long and short sentences and inverted commas to explore the types of pressures people face and how the respond to pressure. The novel shows us that pressure is unavoidable in life and that is the way we deal with pressure that defines our true characters.
By Vanessa Song