Vein, Greed and "Perfection"

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"...I am convinced now apart from being fed, most human activity...has not other purpose than to deliver us into the realm of the imagination." Spoken by Henry in Resurrection Blues by Arthur Miller, Page 76.
I found this line interesting because it seems to set a bit of basis for the play. It is basically stated how vein and out of touch with reality the humans of this play are. Throughout the entire play, there seems to be a distinction made of those who are vein and greedy such as the General, and Skip. Money and power seem to dominate most of their decisions instead of morals. Emily seems to be torn both way and wants to try to be an individual but is often lead by others instead. Jeanine and Stanley are the followers of the god identity, "the good ones" if you will. However, that is ironic in Jeanine's condition since trying to commit suicide is something that is usually frowned upon. Henri is the only one in this story that tries to be on both sides at once. He wants everyone to come to terms and he really puts himself out there to do it. However, he is dealing with people who keep swaying one way and then the other. For Skip, as much as his morals disagree with the crucifixion, he wants the money and wants to try anything to keep it happening including convincing the entity (named Charley at that point) to go through with it. It is quite sickening that money would mean more than a life, but some people do come to such greed.  
 However, I was slightly confused at the end. I assumed that the entity did decide to leave and never return but I was not quite sure. What is your take on it?


3 Comments

Alyssa Sanow said:

The cut throat mentality that governs the actions of many of Miller's characters serves as more than motivation for plot events. It is a reflection of the way many people act in the "real world." Greed and vanity, which run rampant throughout Miller's play, also plague society in general. As far as the ending goes, I was also unsure. After reading it twice, I am under the impression that "god" decides to leave forever and never come back. I found this very disappointing, much like the surrender of the protagonist at the end of Invisible Man.

Yes, I agree that "Charley" or whatever you want to call him became fed up with their return to being greedy and insisting he come get crucified for profit and decided to give up on saving humanity. In the stage directions when this happens they are both "relieved and sorry"; relieved I think because they no longer have to deal with the pressure of trying to change their way of life and be moral like they've been promising but also sorry because who knows if they'll ever get the chance for salvation again? I actually thought this ending was a little bit too preachy and obvious for me. It's very clear what the message is: humanity is greedy and will end up tearing themselves apart if they don't shape up. There is some ambiguity in terms of the uncertainty of whether "Charley" will ever return, but for the most part it reads kind of like a parable. Which perhaps was the intention, because of the associations with Christ. I just thought it might have been more interesting if the ending was more ambiguous and open to interpretation.

Christopher Dufalla said:

It is indeed sad how vain and selfish these characters are, but then again, many people in the real world are very similar. Life is full of people motivated by the temptations of money and power. Charley has subtly given the characters chance after chance, all the while trying to sort out his own ideas, but the characters revert back to their original feelings and Charley makes his decision. Perhaps it was not yet time for the true "second coming".

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