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What Makes Smith Run?
What makes Smith run???
The theme of honesty is widely developed in “The Loneliness of the Long Distant Runner,” in which Smith tells us what honesty means according to him, and according to the governor. To be honest is interpreted by the governor as the easiest and most common way to win the race, to get out of the jail, and to have a family. Smith’s sense of honesty therefore must be seen as individuality; to be in charge of ones self and free of “the system” creates an honest man, a human individual. The governor’s interpretation shows honesty as conformity. Conforming to societies’ mandate horribly clashes with Smith’s powerful sense of freedom and inner strength.
“The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” carefully and cunningly depicts English rule as a weak, fraudulent, imposing system that cripples individuality. Smith’s acts of recklessness cannot be seen as crude behavior, but rather as acts of freedom and non-conformity. Throughout the story Smith tries to find himself and grasp a better understanding of life and it’s many questions by laughing at the law and running from it’s reaching arms.
Smith is forced to run by the governor at Borstal as part of his punishment for his crimes as a juvenile. He does not enjoy running except for the sanctity that it provides. The nature and beauty surrounding him while he runs is what appeals to him. Nature is not governed by man’s laws and in this sense is honest, true, and free. This appeals to Smith because he wants to find his own niche in society and depend upon his own system, instead of following someone else’s ineffective laws that hold down individuality.
Running in effect than is actually an escape for Smith. Smiths’ comment on being able to run forever is symbolic, and it drives the point home embodying the notion that running is keeping distance from the law, out running the system so to speak. When Smith runs he is untouchable. He is in his own world away from the suffocating laws of England’s juvenile detention policies and the world of imposed law. Smith isn’t running from his problems or from his past, but instead he is running towards the answers to the questions that doctrine men’s lives, answers on how to become free and independent.
While he is training he also finds the time to think about life and society like a kind of running philosopher. Running in this sense, provides the time to come to realizations, such as the gap he finds between the lower and middle-upper class persons. Another topic that is thought about intensively by Smith is the idea of being alive and being dead. To him it seems as if all the others around him at Borstal and in general are dead and he\'s the only man truly living, due to his active nature and thoughts about life. This thinking extends his self-consciousness and the awareness for what is happening around him.
This story is rich in symbolism. Smith running acts as his freedom to explore the ideas of life. The story relies on these ideas to depict the nature of man. Running than also is his means of escapism from the forced civilization around him, his way to avoid the law and realize his true nature.
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Social realism, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Borstal, Crime, Agent Smith
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