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Island Man Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By pracy16
Words 1130
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“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” In the case of the Blasket people this statement does not stand true. The Blasket’s resemble a modern day blue collar neighborhood in the United States, where hard work is in their blood but little progression is made for the betterment of them or their family. The people of the blasket islands were tough, they were employed from the oceans resources but also torn apart by its vast storms. Keeping them from sinking in the treturous sea was their religious devotion that was always by their side. The Blasket people were tough, hardworking, and religious due to their surrounding environment, however that same environment that provided for the people, also tore them apart.
Hope is the inspiration for hard work. For most, you work hard in pursuit of a greater goal, however in the case of the Blasket people their hard work is put in to simply maintain their current status. Being isolated on an island meant they had to produce and provide almost everything with no help from the outside world. There was no police or governing body, every single item was built by hand, by the people. As a result, every single person who lived on the island had no option but to devote painstaking hours in order to live. This is seen with Tomas and his endless dedication towards hard work and manual labor, “Five new houses were built in the Island. I and the ganger put up every inch of them” (234). As if being on the Blasket Islands were not tough enough, Tomas worked for himself where he received two shillings a day. However, the struggle did not end there, often when he had to repair houses the people he worked with either didn’t know Irish or English, “The men mixing the mortar had no english and the ganger no Irish” (234). There were so many obstacles to overcome in order to perform simple tasks but that did not stop the Blasket people. They were exposed to the non lavish lifestyle since a very young age, where Tomas learned of the importance but also the dangers of fishing, with a deadly encounter before he even turned 10 years old, “But before long a fish bit, and I had the line twisted round my legs. The fish dragged me overboard” (11). Tomas’s dad was a fisherman, and Tomas had no choice but to learn how to fish since a young age. Education takes a secondary role to labor in the Blasket society because they need young kids like Tomas to use the islands resources and turn them into tangible items you can use. For example, taking fish from the sea and preparing it so it was okay to eat. Although most women in the rest of the world in the early 1900’s did not work, and stayed home to take care of the household, the women of the Blasket islands were much different. The women had no choice. There was no down time on the blaskets as the women had the choice of either starving or working, “There were no asses in the Island in those days, only a creel on the back of every man and of every women too that is to say, every woman that wasn’t a pet or a sly knave who would rather starve than work” (3). Nothing on the blaskets was given, rather everything was painfully worked for, as a result the people were instilled with ideals of discipline, and everyday persistence in order to maintain an orderly society.
In such a tough environment, the Blasket people looked to religion to guide them through tough times. Religion provided reasoning behind tragic events for the Blasket people. When Tomas son was trying to save a girl from drowning, and drowned himself, God provided reasoning for Tomas, “I hope they did not think that I was angry with them because my son had died for their daughter. I was never foolish as that. If it was for her he died it could not be helped. It was God’s will” (198). The blaskets are a place filled with dismay and its only natural for the people to look for guidance from God. God keeps them on track while also giving them a weekly place to meet on Sundays. Often the people of the blaskets will give up on their given task because they don’t have the will to go on. For example, when Tomas and others were in search of land, after pursuing their destination for so long without getting there they started to give up. However, when the priest started to look at his breviary, a book of the catholic church containing prayers, hymns, psalms, readings, and notations for everyday use, immediately land became visible, “We were at work so long that we grew weary, and we realized that we were lost and that it was useless to keep on working, so we stopped for some time. Then the priest asked us if we had given up hope. We answered that we had, for we should have reached land long ago if we hadn't gone astray. The priest started on his breviary and at that very moment one of the men looked out and saw a rock or crag and off we started towards it but, alas! we were 3 miles out of our way” (90). Certainly, there is no coincidence that right as the priest started to look at his breviary, the men began to see land. In this case they needed God to guide them in the right direction to get to their desired destination, and they got it. Situations like these gave the people trust in what God was planning for them. God served as the leader of the Blaskets because they had no true leader. A leader is the person you look up to when you need assistance or guidance, and God was that person for the Blasket people. Although he was not tangibly there, the Blasket people believed in what he had to say and followed his guidance through good and bad times. Religion served as a paramount part of the well being of the blasket people.
The environment that was the Blasket Islands breeded its people into becoming tough minded, dedicated and devout. Living on the Blasket meant working all day every day from a very young age in order to survive. With very few living on the island people had to work together in order to maintain a society. Many tragedies struck the people of the Blasket and they had to turn to religion to guide them through the tough times. Hard work kept the people where they were with no possibility for progression.…...

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