What Side Are You on? Eugene O’Neill Explores Groups and Belonging in "The Hairy Ape"

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In the mist of a major conflict the most crucial decision made is deciding upon what faction to side with. The final choice stands as the product of introspection and a social projection of internal beliefs. However, often the presented factions do not coincide with our own beliefs in their entirety. In such case an individual is faced with a more complex and tumultuous question of belonging. Eugene O’Neill explores the issue of groups and belonging in The Hairy Ape. Written in 1921, the play is deeply rooted in the issues of the working class, and seems relative to the dilemma of the 1919 labor strike. The palpable theme of belonging seems to resonate from the lingering question of the 1919 strikes; What side are you on? During summer and fall of 1919 four million workers, from Settle to Chicago, went on strike (Baughman 267). The striking workers sought to protect themselves against retrenchment and protect wartime wages, as World War I come to end. During this time the public, those not striking, found themselves in either a worker sympathizing or opposing tone. As in any con...

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