In both T.S. Eliot’s poem "The Waste Land" and Yulisa Amadu Maddy’s novel NO Past, NO Present, NO Future, the characters experience a downfall. It is human nature, though, to experience some sort of self-destruction. W.B. Yeats wrote the line "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold." Humanity tends to cling to that which is most destructive to itself, whether it is intended or not. Maddy and Eliot both describe their deteriorating cultures as holding together. People are too fearful of breaking away from what is accepted and tend to fall in line, even if it results in the demise of a society.
In the novel No Past, No Present, No Future, Maddy wrote of the destructive relationship that evolved from a brotherly, adolescent friendship between three boys. As teenagers, each of the boys felt a need for emotional security through a deep friendship: Joe had just lost his parents in a house fire, Santigie’s father was deathly ill, and Ade’s parents disgusted him. During these years of bonding, the brothers promised to stay together forever, believing there was nothing they couldn’t accomplish. This promise led to their eventual downfall. After their separate moves to attend college in Europe, their relationships began to shatter. Each boy let his own inhibitions and jealousy of the other get in the way. Ade’s arrogance, due to his success in college, and his cultural denial isolated him from the three boys. Their closeness began to fade and soon nothing could be accomplished when the boys were together. Despite this knowledge, the boys continued to contact each other, even though interaction would end in awkwardnes...
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... right. Although thrown into a situation of hopelessness created by the war, they joined together in a series of immoral acts.
Both Eliot and Maddy described the decay of their own culture. In Maddy’s case, the Bauyans had completely submitted to the oppression caused by the leadership of the minority whites. Rather than rising out of poverty, they clung together in oppression. In Eliot’s case, the culture had erased morality and accountability for selfish needs. They clung together in disgrace, and accepted the new behavior. In both cases society should have taken advantage of its unity to rise above morally and economically.
1. Eliot, T.S. The Waste Land, Prufrock and other Poems. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1998.
2. Maddy, Yulisa Amadu. No Past, No Present, No Future. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Reed Publishing Inc., 1996.
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