Synthesis And Argument Essays Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Community, Literature, Society, Situation, America, Violence, Politics, Fire

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/07

The novel Philadelphia Fire is a critical piece of work that explores various social-political and philosophical concepts. Wideman tells a simple story that reflects on the American’s social-political state during this time. The novel comprehensively features themes such as despair and the theme of exile. The most outstanding topic from the novel includes the theme of despair that the author presents in a unique manner. In particular, the Wideman constantly argues that the Americans are causing harm to themselves and destroying their society spiritually, physically and emotionally (Wideman 23). The author is annoyed by what he is seeing happening in his society. He feels that the Americans social-political welfare is being compromised. Wideman seems to have lost hope in relation to the prosperity of his society that he sees doomed to be in a distressing situation in the future. In this context, he challenges his community to open their eyes and witness the risky and harmful effect of their actions. The essay engages Wideman’s main argument in relation to the idea of despair to explicate the scholar’s position that Americans are destroying themselves while evaluating the rationale of his argument.
Philadelphia Fire develops on the story of an African-American by the name Cudjoe who has spent his life as an expatriate in Greece. He explains that Cudjoe returns just after the attack of his city and the following widespread fire that cleared the neighboring houses. This was with the effort to find Simba— the only person who probably survived the attack. In Cudjoe’s view, finding Simba was significant because he would act as a meaning of visualizing the events that had happened (Giles 30). In the effort to find this child, Cudjoe engages a woman who at one time belonged to the Move; however, she is not comfortable to help him trace Simba. The woman is against Cudjoe’s effort because she views him as an outsider. In this context, she feels that Cudjoe’s move and intention was only aimed at worsening the problems for the community and the boy. Besides Cudjoe’s effort to make the woman acknowledge his genuine intention, the woman is hardly convinced. This is besides that fact that Cudjoe was brought up in the neighborhood.
Another unique idea develops when Cudjoe engages a friend who at the present is working in the city government. Through the interaction between Cudjoe and his friend, one learns about the relationship between people and their government. His friend attempt to explain and justify the Mayor’s actions to order an attack; however, Cudjoe is hardly moved by his argument. Cudjoe’s story in relation to the woman and his friend explains the situation in the society. There is high degree of insecurity and mistrust among individuals in Cudjoe’s community (Wideman 59). This is following ruthless and inhuman incidents that individuals in this community have witnessed. Some individuals especially those from the minority race feel sidelined by the authority. They feel that their government hardly serves their interest and in contrast, it is motivated to exploit them. The majority rate and those in the government feel that their actions are justified. However, this is not true since their actions are just aimed at safeguarding their interests. The fate of the American-Africans seems compromised, as there is high racial discrimination. This is in line with the sentiments raised by Du bois who criticizes the manner in which the mainstream American community treats American-Africans and other minority groups (Du, Bois 48).
In the novel, Philadelphia Fire, the topic of despair develops through the actions of characters who are seen to abuse themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. Wideman argues that recurring violence is contributing to a continuously increasing crumbling social structure. He is worried of his community’s social structure in the future, as individuals continue to engage in harmful and risky undertakings. In developing this argument, Wideman cites the examples of a situation that characterize garbage production, the unjust legal system and immoral habits assumes by various individuals within his society (Wideman 64). He features a situation of the garbage that individuals in his society produce in their homes and streets. In particular, he feels disturbed that his community continues to pollute the same environment that they are dwelling in; a lifestyle that they practice comfortably without caring about it effect. In Wideman’s view, the final consequence of all these actions will be a doomed social environment. It is apparent that his city and its structures are wearing down day-by-day as the community watches ignorantly (Hogue 67).
In my view, I believe that the author of this novel presents a perception that individuals featured in his story have untamable quest towards self-destruction. For example, the characters who seem blind to this reality engage in actions that pose a threat to their life even after escaping narrowly from their earlier undertakings. In essence, they hardly take time to learn from earlier experiences. This is evident in the scenario that the Wideman set where some characters survive in one context yet they contribute negatively to another situation. For instance, the novel highlights that Simba escapes the bombing incident by luck. Nevertheless, he fails to learn from this incident, as he is the person who leads a gang of youths who are continuously engaged in violence.
I strongly concur with Wideman’s observation that the community featured in the Philadelphia Fire is characterized of characters who are doomed to self-destruction. Simba presents a good example of this character. Instead of being warned from the bombing experience, Simba blindly engages in more risky activities that pose more harm to himself and his society (Wideman 50). It is such attitude that makes the author lack hope with the individuals in his community, as he believes that they can hardly learn and change for better. He is disturbed because he does not seem to find a straightforward solution to the problem that is facing his community. He strongly wishes that his community would shun ignorance and visualize the real world in which they are sailing. However, this only remains a wish— it can hardly happen following the ignorance that has blinded his community.
I think Wideman feels that his community lacks emotional tethers that would hold people together. This is because no one seems to care about the welfare of fellow citizens. Characters prioritize their interest to benefit self at the detriment of the others/society. This situation has prompted a situation of both individual and societal despair. My perspective is supported by Wideman’s undertaking where he utilizes fact and fiction to explain the actual circumstance involving his society’s attitude, military system, and the legal system. He seems unhappy about all these systems, thus criticizes them constantly. The author explains that when the armed black commune ignores the command to move from the Philadelphia slum, the police attacked the house with the helicopter causing brutal killings (Giles 56). This was with the approval of the City’s black mayor. The attack also caused fire that burnt down about fifty-three houses. Wideman feels this brutal and inhuman move should not characterize the leadership of his community. He reckons his city’s political system that he sees as dictatorial. This is because the system often does not act in the interest of the citizens as the leadership assumes tough and unfair decisions without considering the welfare or fate of the citizens (Baldwin 47).
In conclusion, the Philadelphia Fire is a well-thought story that reflects important issues that characterize the author’s community. The perspectives assumed by both Cudjoe and Wideman agree un-problematically. I concur with the positions adopted by these two, which criticize individuals in their society who are blindly engaging in activities that cause physical, spiritual and emotion harm to their community. It is apparent that the community’s social structure is constantly deteriorating. Moral decadence has created a situation where individuals in this society are losing faith with one another. In consequence, lack of a communal bond that would keep the society together is causing a situation of despair. Some individuals have no faith in the governance and the future of their community. In similar way to Wideman’s feeling, I believe that this community is doomed to a worse future. The social-political and philosophical implication of this situation is a disunited and community with no peace where citizens lack faith with each other and the governance. This means that the society needs to face their ignorance and view their situation from a rational viewpoint to correct the situation.

Works Cited

Giles, James Richard. Violence in the Contemporary American Novel: An End to Innocence. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.
Wideman, John E. Philadelphia Fire. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Print.
Baldwin, James. Another Country. London: Penguin, 2001.
Hogue, W. Lawrence. Postmodernism, Traditional Cultural Forms, and African American Narratives. 2013. <>.
Du, Bois W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. Rockville, Md: Arc Manor, 2008. Print.

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