To what extent is the theme of loneliness presented in Come Back, Little Sheba?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lola's husband, whom she annoyingly calls "Doc," is lonely too. He fell in love with her when she was young and pretty. But after they were married he came to realize that she was unintelligent and incapable of understanding him or sharing any of his intellectual or cultural interests. He had planned to become a medical doctor, but they were forced to get married because she became pregnant and he was the kind of man who would do the right thing. Instead he has become a chiropractor and does not feel like a real doctor, so every time she calls him "Doc" it is like a tiny stab, a reminder of his lost hopes. He has had a very serious drinking problem because he was obviously drinking to drown his regrets and perhaps especially to forget his fury at his dumb, well-meaning, fading wife, who trapped him into marriage and then couldn't even provide the baby or any future babies. Evidently he has vented his repressed anger at her in the past when he was drunk, and she lives in fear that he will fall off the wagon again and attack her with verbal abuse and threatened physical abuse again. They are two lonely people being lonely together. This is common in a lot of marriages, although it may be more or less concealed in most. 

In Leo Tolstoy’s famous story “The Kreutzer Sonata,” the narrator says:

“We were like two convicts fastened to one chain, hating each other, each poisoning the life of the other and striving not to recognize the fact. I did not then realize that ninety-nine per cent of the married people live in the same hell as mine, and that it must be so. Nor did I then realize that it was so of others or true of myself."

Little Sheba was a toy dog that went missing. It either represents Lola's lost youth or her lost baby--or both.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of loneliness is present in the depiction of Lola's life. She is depressed about her life that has no meaning, but has no interest in exploring why it is this way , or how to change it. Instead, she spends her time as a voyeur in Turk's romance and striking up conversations with total strangers.  She does this to fill her empty life with the events of other people's lives.

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Come Back, Little Sheba

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