Discuss how the theme of alienation is important in the play. Are there some examples of alienation in the play?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Alienation is important in Zindel's drama.  It is a condition that withers away the hope in the soul. Alienation is shown to decrease bonds between people and compel individuals to feel self- hate, externalizing this to the world.

Beatrice is an example this.  She is alienated from nearly every avenue of redemption.  She has been shattered by her husband's commitment to a sanitarium, leaving her alone to raise their children and provide financial stability.  She is alienated from her responsibilities as a mother, unable to see past daily contingencies to transcendental notions of the good.  The cruelty with which she treats Tillie in both seeking to deny her education, keeping her to help with domestic duties, as well as the manner with which she derides her dreams is a result of Beatrice's alienation.  It is alienation that compels the mother to treat her daughter in such a manner, almost as a way to reinforce the pain she feels upon her child.  

The killing of the rabbit is another example of how alienation plays a role in the drama.  Beatrice's alienation compels her to say that  "I hate the world." This condition is what severs bonds between she and her children and she and the world. Brought on by the ridicule she experienced as an adolescent, Beatrice has found herself completely alienated from all human contact.  Bonds severed, Beatrice is a figure of both scorn and pity at the end of the drama. It is alienation that prevents her from embracing anything meaningful connection in the world. Alienation is important because it is the condition that serves as the pretense for so much in way of abuse.  Zindel's drama shows that some of the worst acts of human cruelty are done because of the severed bonds that result due to alienation from oneself and others around them.

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