The Lamp at Noon Theme Analysis Theme Statement: Sometimes , a person may want to change but it may be too late cause irreparable damage may already be done. The short story “The Lamp at Noon” by Sinclair Ross, It depicts Paul and Ellen, a married farming couple living during the Great Depression. It follows the internal struggles the family faces, and how they are torn apart by the harsh elements of nature and their own inability to cope with the changing conditions.
The dust storm is used to establish not just setting and external conflict but the represent the internal conflict between Paul and Ellen, with Ellen comparing their relationship to the status of the storm. She feels that the storm is at its worst when her and Paul fight over new changes, but the storm is calm when Paul finally listens and tries to understand. Every day when Paul leaves to work on the farm Ellen wants Paul to come back, to feel the assurance of his strength and nearness.
Ellen waits for Paul to come back from the stable. She watches the clock and listens for any sign of his return, and forces herself to recoil from running out to the stable to look for him when he is a few minutes late. Their conflict is developed through Ellen’s sense of loneliness, and isolation. Her sense of total isolation is futhered because other than Paul and her baby Ellen is isolated from the outside world.
She lives in a two bedroom house a half a mile from their closest neighbour, they only visit town once a month, and with no form of transportation suggested other than foot, Ellen clearly feels trapped. However due to Ellens immense feeling of loneliness a passion to leave and change their lifestyle develops and now she is at conflict with herself to leave and be free. She has a desire to leave but she cares too much for the well being of her family, and she knows she can’t just abandon them. “There were two winds; the wind in flight, and the wind that pursued.
The one sought refuge in the eaves, whimpering, in fear; the other assailed it there, and shook the eaves apart to make it flee again. Once as she listened this first wind sprang inside the room, distraught like a bird that has felt the graze of talons on its wing; while furious the other wind shook the walls, and thudded tumbleweeds against the window till it’s quarry glanced away again in fright.
But only to return-to return and quake among the feeble eaves, as if in all this dust-mad wilderness it knew no other sanctuary” This is where the types of two winds quote comes into play, the first wind the one that soughts refuge is Ellens idea of being free, to be able to leave the dust bowl, but the wind that perseus is her is her fear of leaving, anger of not knowing not other places, and Pauls sense of pride,. The second wind is constantly keeping the first wind in distraught and fear, yet “in all this dust-mad wilderness it knew no other sanctuary.”
Another conflict keeping Ellen and Paul from leaving their farm is Paul’s Pride. Paul has too much pride to let his farm go to waste. He is constantly working day to night trying to keep the farm up and running. Financially, the family is not well off and the dust storm that is occurring is not helping the fact, another factor which leads to Ellens decision of running away . Ellen suggests the option to move back to the city to work for her father, but Paul’s level of pride takes over and he firmly states “It’s better than sweeping out your father’s store and running his errands…I can’t go, Ellen living off your people, charity”.
Ellen is trying to run away from her problems, and start anew. She would rather walk away than try to find a way to fix them. Ellen pleads, “I can’t stand it any longer. He cries all the time. You will go Paul – say we will. We aren’t living here – not really living “. Ellen again wants to leave her home and start over somewhere new, instead of trying to rekindle relationships back home. She is constantly trying to get away but never actually gets anywhere.