The two Langston Hughes poems titled, Old Walt and Formula, the first half of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and my York Road Clean-Up experience all share the common theme of pursuing something and eventually discovering it. While these works and experience all fall under the same theme of seeking, the way in which it is found it different.
To start, the two Langston Hughes’ poems Old Walt and Formula are about two different, yet similar themes. In Formula, Hughes is describing a “formula” for writing a poem. Although this poem is mocking formulaic poetry, Hughes’ poem is to show that beautiful discoveries can come out of something horrible. Hughes’s is seeking for that beautiful discovery when a poet writes a poem. He states, “Poetry! Treat of lofty things: Soaring thoughts and birds with wings,” to further explain this. He describes that pain is everywhere and not all poetry is meant to life and inspire us. The seeking and discovery process theme of this poem is analyzed through the poetry writing process. In Old Walt, Hughes also explains the theme of “finding and seeking.” He explains this theme through a description of Walt Whitman. This theme is explained through the process and description of Walt Whitman.
The novel Frankenstein and my York Road Cleanup experience have this theme dramatically in common. This seeking and finding theme draws parallels between my experience and this novel. The first parallel that I drew was in the beginning of the novel starting with the letters. On page 9, it is stated “I often feared that his sufferings had deprived him of understanding.” This quote in Frankenstein relates to my adventure to York Road. When I first arrived at York Road at 8am on a Saturday morning, I had no idea what to expect. I walked towards a group of thirty kids or so ready to get to work. I was assigned a job that consisted of weeding around a tree, putting fresh mulch down, and planting new flowers. As my group of four acquaintances and I got to work, we began to notice the locals talking to us during random times during the process. The quote from Frankenstein relates to the encounters that I had with these locals during the clean up. I met locals that greeted us with “God Bless you and thank you for doing this” to random men talking gibberish about their “encounters with God at the supermarket.” As we all understood, some of these locals were not in the right state of mind at the time, which caused some of these sayings that did not make sense. But one local that stood out to me was a man called Bebo. As we were weeding around the tree with our thin latex gloves that barely protected us from the dirt or bugs, Bebo came walking over. I noticed right away that this man would make an impact on my life when he offered me his gloves that were in his back pocket. This man that was probably living a life not as privileged as mine, was willing to give me something of his without hesitation. After I kindly thanked him for the offer, I declined. How could I use his gloves when he needs them more than me? Bebo justified that in fact his sufferings did not deprive him of understanding. He understood as much as I did, that his life was not as privileged as mine was.
In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley also states that, “If any one performs an act of kindness towards him or does him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equaled.” (pg. 10) This quote held true for my experience at the York Road Clean-Up. During the strenuous weeding and planting that I was enduring on that Saturday morning, I was interrupted by about ten locals offering to help me and thanking me numerous times for cleaning their home. I felt truly grateful for volunteering to do this.
In the second letter of the novel, it introduces the idea of loss and loneliness and how Walton has no friends to share his triumphs or failures with. Walton is eventually forced to turn to a stranger as the friend that he has been looking for. This theme of seeking and finding a companion is shared with my Saturday morning activities. Going into this service opportunity, I knew no one. Most of the volunteers were Evergreens or SGA members, which consisted of mostly upperclassman. I found myself in the same predicament as Walton; the search for a companion. I forced myself to make conversation with everyone I had come into contact with. Through this method of seeking, I made seven new friends in person and also on Facebook (haha).
As the novel and my Saturday morning continue, more common parallels are illuminated. Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist and narrator for the main portion of the novel, finds himself attempting to study more exciting matters, for example, the study of life. With this study comes a horrifying creature. As the novel progresses, he finds that he cannot escape this ever-present creature. The creature eventually transforms from a grotesque physical being to a sensitive and emotional human figure that can communicate with Victor. This transformation is also one that I found myself going through during my York Road experience. In the beginning of the morning, I found myself not feeling comfortable in the setting that I was and finding every possible situation as an excuse to whine about. As the day went on, I found myself finding the beauty in what I was doing. At first, it was not my ideal Saturday morning, but I found the locals that I met and the help that I had done, made it all worth it.