"I Decline To Accept The End Of Man"

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 221

Context: After a few remarks in keeping with the formalities involved in his acceptance of his award, William Faulkner directs his speech specifically at the hopeful young writers "dedicated to the same anguish and travail" to which he himself has been dedicated. The theme of his message to them is, in affirming the immortality and nobility of man's essential humanity, a challenge to these young writers to be satisfied with nothing less than a creativity that comprehends man's spiritual nature. Our tragedy today, he says, is the fact that modern man is so preoccupied with his physical fears that he ignores spiritual problems and values. Young writers who have forgotten the "problems of the human heart in conflict with itself" must learn them again. Only "the old verities and truths of the heart, . . . love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice," are worth writing about. Everything else acknowledges only the mortality of man. In his conclusion he proclaims his strong faith in man's spirituality:

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. . . I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to
say that man is immortal simply because he will endure. . . .
I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure:
he will prevail. He is immortal, . . . because he has a soul, a
spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.

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