Get help now
  • Pages 12
  • Words 2989
  • Views 255
  • Download


    Verified writer
    • rating star
    • rating star
    • rating star
    • rating star
    • rating star
    • 4.7/5
    Delivery result 4 hours
    Customers reviews 348
    Hire Writer
    +123 relevant experts are online

    Continental Drift Essay (2989 words)

    Academic anxiety?

    Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task

    Get help now

    124 experts online

    Continental Drift On the surface, Continental Drift and The Oddyssey are very different. The two protagonists, Bob Dubois and Odysseus, are as unalike as two men can be.

    Bob is an average man with an average life. He works for one man so that he can pay bills to others, trying to make what little money is left supply his family with the needs, both real and imagined, that every family has. Odysseus is a mythical figure, the ultimate man. He surpasses his peers in every manly endeavor, “Then there was no man who wanted to be set up for cunning against great Odysseus; he far surpassed them in every kind of stratagem,” whether it is with his wit, bravery, skills as a warrior, strength, or charm, (Homer, 54). Odysseus represents the timeless virtues of masculinity that all men, including Bob, desire.

    That Bob seeks to break the free of his average life, tries to become something other than the sad normal man that his father was; that he endeavors to become a great man, is what brings these two stories together. As the men in The Odyssey look to Odysseus as the touchstone of masculinity, Bob Dubois looks to the men in his life in his attempt to become a good man. Bob wants to become a mythical male, “handsome, of course, and sexy and good-humored; hes not rich, not yet, {} hes kind and gentle, tender to women, children and animals, without being sentimental, however, because after all, hes a “mans man” as well; hes a stern yet jocular father to his children, and he can take care of his wife too, can assume a custodial role in her life, honoring and attending to all her needs,” (Banks, 133). Odysseus represents the benchmark in Bobs quest to rise above the multitudes, his level of excellence in every aspect, what Bob hopes to attain by emulating the men he respects, while trying to avoid the example of those that he does not. The fact that Bob fails in his quest only adds to the idea that like Odysseus, who is a mythical figure whose traits are nearly impossible to mimic, the men that Bob sees are mythical, they exist only in Bobs perception of them. That Bob fails is to be expected.

    He is trying to become the perfect image of a man, the kind of image he sees in Carl Yazstremski, Ted Williams, and liquor advertisements. Bob wants to be the kind of man that he thinks his brother Eddie or childhood friend Ave are, the kind of man his father was not, but there is no real depth to the images that Bob perceives, no truth behind the facades. This is best exemplified by Bobs image of his Brother Eddie, who Bob says “sure as *censored* seems alive to me,” (Banks, 28). The distinction that Bob makes between being alive and being dead, which he thinks he is, relates to an aspect of selfishness in Bob.

    Different events or benchmarks mark off life times: the first tooth, the first date, graduating high school, getting married, etc. If a person has a profession, one that allows for continuous growth and increasing income, a new level of benchmarks become available. Bob does not have these options, however. He is involved in a trade that, while steady and dependable, does not offer the chance for personal or financial growth. Because his life has become stagnant, because he has no more benchmarks to measure himself against, and his prospects only look to improve slightly, Bob believes that his life, or more accurately, what life means to him, is over. Now that Bob is settled into the life that most people in his part of the world try to obtain, he feels that there is nothing left for him to do, and so he focuses on the success he perceives in other people and resents the fact that he will never have it living the same safe as his ancestors in New Hampshire have lived.

    Eddie is the very picture of the success that Bob wishes to obtain. Eddie has it all, a beautiful wife, an impressive house, an expensive car, two boats, Eddie is his own boss, and most importantly, Eddie has a seemingly endless line of prospects that offer him a limitless future. Eddie made his own way as an entrepreneur, living his life according to a truth that he learned as an 18 year old shoe salesman, “the most important fact is that the guys with most of the money are always doing at least two of the only three things that you can do in this life, which happen to be making things, selling things, and buying things {} It came to me when I was eighteen and its been my guiding light ever since. My philosophy of life. My religion,” (Banks, 66).

    What Bob does not realize until it is too late, is that all of Eddys toys are an illusion, the trappings of a life he created and is powerless to escape. Eddys “philosophy” does not include any room for his wife or daughter, on an emotional level. They merely serve, like his speedboat and luxury car, as status symbols for a successful man. Consequently, when Eddy starts to loose his other belongings, his wife and daughter leave with the stores and the real estate. The things that Bob thinks indicate success, and therefore happiness, are material: things that can be made, sold, or bought; things that can be given or taken away, and it is not until Eddie looses everything and takes his own life that Bob begins to see for the first time how fragile Eddys world really was. Just as Bob did not see the reality of Eddys life, he fails to acknowledge what is important in his own life, his family.

    Although he tells himself that he is trying to succeed for his family, each step away from their life in New Hampshire takes Bobs family further away from the security and happiness that they knew. Ruthie Dubois, Bobs daughter, serves as a good example of the mental anguish that Bobs family is put through. A seemingly normal child while in New Hampshire, part of Bobs, “happy, healthy family,” (Banks, 13) she develops what are described as learning disabilities, after the family moved to Oleander Park, that may be due to emotional problems. These problems coincide with fights between Bob and Elaine, which in their own turn coincide with Bobs interest in Marguerite Dill. Bob thinks that he has fallen in love with Marguerite, who, as a southern black woman, is exotic by his New Hampshire white man standard.

    He thinks “that the kind of man that he will become, by virtue of his acquiring Marguerites love, is the kind of man who can locate with ease the excluded middle between the love for his children and the love for a woman not their mother,” (Banks, 133). Of course, Bob does not achieve this level of consciousness, and his failure, coupled with his shame for loving another woman, causes Bob to first avoid, then to fight with Elaine. He resents her, resents the responsibility to him that she represents, but more than anything else Bob resents Elaine for the freedom that he can never have while he is married to her. Everyone in the house knows there is something wrong, but it is Ruthie in whom the effects of the fighting can most easily be seen. By the time that the family has been in the Keys for a while Ruthie is diagnosed with a mental illness that must be treated by special doctors. It is a vicious cycle, each step Bob takes toward what he thinks will bring happiness for himself, and through him his family, only brings more problems and despair, with happiness for his family only recognized as a memory of the security that they once benefited from in New Hampshire.

    Like Odysseus, who escapes from one problem only to find another, Bob is unable to find relief through his efforts; nothing is as it seems. When Bob decides to leave Eddys store for the promise of becoming a professional fisherman, it seems that he will finally find happiness. Since he was a boy, dreaming with Ave Boone about their futures, Bob has wanted this life, or rather what the image of this life meant to him as a boy. Like the family of tourists driving through the Keys, Bob thinks, “I should be that man, who is free, who owns his own life simply because he knows whether to use live or dead shrimp for bait, {} Hes been able to trade his knowledge for power and control of his own life. His knowledge is worth something,” (Banks, 218. .

    . . . ). Finally Bob has a chance to make a living doing what he knows, and what he loves.

    “Since childhood, fishing has satisfied his need to be alone and in the natural world at the same time, his deep, extremely conscious need for the presence of his own thoughts coming to him in his own voice, which rarely happens in the presence of other people, his need for order and, perhaps his most tangled need, his need for competence,” (Banks, 62). Bob is successful fishing, but unsuccessful as a businessman. There are not as many customers as he had expected, not as many as he needed to have any hope of buying the Belinda Blue. Like the image he had of Eddy, the reality of being a commercial fisherman is far from the way that Bob visualized it. After selling virtually everything that the family owns so that he can buy 25% of the Belinda Blue, Bob can not afford to care for his family.

    Far from a path that will lead to “something better,” (Banks, 15) the family struggles as they never had before. If Bob is unwilling to accept the fact that Ave Boone is smuggling to pay the bills, he goes into complete denial when Elaine tells him that she is taking a job at night to help pay for Ruthies medical expenses. A “mans man” does not need to rely on his wife to help support the family. His role is that of the sole provider, while his wife tends to the house and the children.

    When Elaine points out that she can make a significantly larger sum of money than Bob could by taking a second job, it forces Bob to see that he is a failure, if only in his own eyes. To say that Bobs failure lies strictly in the fact that he did not achieve his goal is to miss the point of his failure entirely; Odysseus underwent many trials, losing all of his men in the process, before he found his way home. Part of the driving force behind Bobs need for something better is that he doesnt want to end up like his father, “dead” long before they actually put him in the ground, sitting up late at night, drunk, listening to Destinys Darling over and over and over again. Bob never stopped to think about what was good in his father, though.

    He never saw that his father was a strong man who worked hard for his family, and if it was the same crappy job that his father had done, he didnt complain, he didnt trade his families security for his own happiness, and his wife never had to take a job to help out with the expenses. Bobs father was everything that a man was expected to be, strong, dependable, the sole provider, and if he failed to support his family emotionally, they never lacked any material thing that the families around them had. Bobs father sacrificed his personal goals for those of his family, and if Bobs fondest memories are of his youth, the sacrifices of his father are the reason why. Bobs real failure, the failure which leads to every point in the story, is that he takes for granted the things in his life that he does have, and when it really matters, he does not have the inner strength to hold on to it; ” In fact, what he hates about his life is precisely what he usually points to with pride: he has a steady job, he owns his own house, he has a happy, healthy family, and so on,” (Banks, 13). It is not until all of these things are gone, lost in the purge of his former life, that Bob puts any value in them. In respect to his not being like his father, Bob has attained this goal, in a sense: he can not provide for his family and his children and wife suffer emotionally.

    Throughout the novel, references are made to the fact that Bob wants to be a good man, although he realizes that he is not. “I worry so much about whether Im any good or not, or what I ought to do or shouldn’t ought to do, or whether Im smart enough or work hard enough, all those things, that theres never much room in my head for anyone elses problems,” (Banks, 90). Never is this more evident than when the Coast Guard hails Bob while he is trying to smuggle illegal Haitian immigrants into the United States. Tyrone, Bobs mate, begins to fire a gun, forcing the Haitians to jump into a stormy sea so that he and Bob can escape, avoiding prison sentences.

    Although he tries to resist Tyrone, Bob allows himself to believe that the Haitians will be able to survive the swim in to shore in heavy seas, until it is too late: the Haitians are drowning and Bob has relinquished control of the boat to Tyrone. He did not relinquished control in any official way, any way that can be easily described, yet when Bob has the opportunity to turn back and try to save the Haitians, he is not strong enough to do so; when Tyrone hands him the gun, Bob throws it overboard and docilely goes down to remove any evidence of the Haitians being on board. No longer trying to be a “mans man,” Bob is a true villain. Through his weakness as a man, Bob allowed the deaths of fifteen human beings because someone else, someone that he doesnt even like, much less respect, told him that it was the right thing to do under the circumstances. Once again, Bob allows “His fears and anxieties, his aversions,” to obscure the world to him (Banks, 64).

    Whether or not he is a good man is no longer in question; Bob can never be a good man from this point on. Bob has faced his moment of truth, the moment that will define him as a man, and he has failed. Rather than do what he feels is right, Bob is weak and takes the path of least resistance. Odysseus faced many such moments, times when he could have taken the easy path rather than face possible death; but each time he accepted the challenge because it was the right thing to do, what defined him as a man of character, and what would eventually lead him home. “And if some God batters me far out on the wine-blue water, I will endure it, keeping a stubborn spirit inside me, for I already have suffered much and done much hard work on the waves and in the fighting.

    So let this adventure follow,” (Homer, 94). No matter what Bob does from this point on, should he live another hundred years, he will never atone for the wrong that he is responsible for, and Bobs fate is sealed because he knows it. Second only, in selfishness, to the unloading of the Haitians, is Bobs self sacrifice at the hands of the Haitian youths, who try to take the “blood money. ” Once again, and for the final time, Bob is thinking only of himself.

    When then the youths try to take the money, Bob put up a fight, screaming, “No! This money is mine1” (Banks, 363). Bob thinks that he will be able to forgive himself and find some amount of redemption if he can get the “blood money” that was taken from the Haitians to Vanise. The money is his salvation, his only chance for life. Bob does not want to help Vanise for her sake, but rather for his own, and so when he sacrifices his life it becomes his most selfish act in the novel. He is not sacrificing his life, like his father did, for the good of his family or those he hurt, but as one final desperate act to allow him a chance at happiness.

    This is evidenced by the fate of the family members he left behind, the people he could have helped if he were willing to endure a life of quiet sacrifice. Bob is a man who is caught up in the materialism of the capitalist era. He is too selfish to see that he already has the freedom he desires, that he already has things to be thankful for; and he is too weak of a man to hold on to any of it. Bob wants “something better,” he believes that the only way to be a successful, happy man is to have the all of the accessories that can be found on Hart to Hart.

    What Bob does not understand is that the material items have nothing to do with being the good man that he wants to be. What the Greeks praised in Odysseus was not his vast wealth, but his abilities as a man. So when sees only weakness in his father, while admiring Ave Boone and Eddy, he is doomed never to become a great man. In the end, he is not even a good man. Bibliography Works Cited Banks, Russell. Continental Drift.

    New York: Harper Perennial, 1994. Homer. The Odyssey. Richmond Lattimore, Trans.

    , Harper Perennial, 1999.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

    Need custom essay sample written special for your assignment?

    Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

    Order custom paper Without paying upfront

    Continental Drift Essay (2989 words). (2019, Jan 16). Retrieved from

    We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

    Hi, my name is Amy 👋

    In case you can't find a relevant example, our professional writers are ready to help you write a unique paper. Just talk to our smart assistant Amy and she'll connect you with the best match.

    Get help with your paper