Themes and Meanings

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 205

For all of its lyricism, Joy of Man’s Desiring is often a richly ambiguous work. Though it clearly postulates the need for man to still his yearning for peace and joy with a willing surrender to nature, the basic sadness surrounding the lives of the characters makes that surrender futile or at least questionable. A recapitulation of the plot of Joy of Man’s Desiring sounds absurd without an awareness of both the lyrical quality of the novel—the full details of nature and peasant life—and the tension, the conflict inherent in the surrender of one’s personality to the world spirit.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Joy of Man's Desiring Study Guide

Subscribe Now

In the novel, there is a pantheistic view of such a world, yet such a world is controlled by a unity that brings each of the characters closer. Nevertheless, the characters never come close enough to one another to become truly happy. The community’s members discover their own aloneness, symbolized by Jourdan’s restlessness and Josephine’s silent conviction that Bobi will one day return to Gremone. As for Bobi, he leaves with a sense of failure: Despite his effect on Gremone, he has been unable to communicate his deeper feelings, his almost poetic sense of the mysteriousness of life.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial
Previous

Summary

Next

Characters