Justify the theme of alienation in "The Hairy Ape." 

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yank is the protagonist in the play who experiences alienation from the others in the stokehold and from the rejection of the upper class. Yank feels he is better than the other men who are stokers, and as such, he sets himself apart from them. When Mildred enters Yank's world, however, she shows Yank what he truly is, a lower-class unevolved individual who doesn't belong in his lower-class world or Mildred's world of wealth. The scene on Fifth Avenue shows how the upper class rejects Yank by ignoring him. He's not even important enough for them to even bother with him. Yank's alienation is reinforced at the IWW office and shows him he doesn't belong anywhere. Yank searches in vain for his identity and even looks for acceptance in the animal world, but even the animals won't accept him, and he's then killed by the gorilla. Yank's fate cannot be changed because he's a product of his environment. He has no identity and belongs to no group.