The last gentleman by walker p

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

download word file, 9 pages 0.0

Downloaded 4 times

In Search of Meaning In addition to finding meaning and purpose to his life, Will Barrett in Walker Percy's The Last Gentleman must attribute some meaning to his father's suicide in order to resolve his ongoing grief. Suicide survivors experience dramatic shock and trauma as explained in a compendium of articles in Living With Grief After Sudden Loss. Judith M. Stillion, a contributing suicidology expert, states that "those grieving loss by suicide often are left with questions such as why their loved one killed themselves, and what, if anything, might have been done to prevent the suicide" (50). Questions like these are generally unanswerable, and thus they may prolong the process of grieving and condemn "survivors to live in the shadow of that suicidal death far longer than is healthy" (Stillion 50). As a suicide survivor, Will Barrett at the age of nineteen, not only has the usual identity search of a young man, but he also has a special and time-consuming burden to overcome the heightened feelings of guilt, shame, and rejection caused by his father's suicide.

In the end, Jamie and Sutter Vaught, as adopted family, help Will find meaning in life and resolution with his father's suicide.

Suicide may be the least forgivable sin of all human betrayals; Ed Barrett arrogantly and selfishly committed suicide, leaving himself dead and unanswerable to his son. As John M. Schwartz states, what finally provoked Mr. Barrett to suicide was, "His dance of honor collapsed amidst its moral ambiguities. At the last, he was a moralist, but his world completely failed to stand at the moral attention he demanded" (117). What he wanted was for all gentlemen to accept the burden of noblesse oblige, and for there to be a distinction between a gentleman and others (Schwartz 117). Walker Percy...