Response to: Is Hope a Bad Thing?

Sakshi’s post Is Hope a Bad Thing? provoked my thinking as she highlighted the line “He told himself: hope is a gateway drug, don’t do it” (Whitehead, 222). That line had not stuck out to me before, so I am glad Sakski brought my attention to it. As I went back to the text to look up the context of the quote, the already dark line became even more gloomy. In this section, the skels were encroaching on Mark Spitz’s hide out with Margie, Tad and Jerry. His stay with these three was a rather hopeful blip in his otherwise depressing life. He felt as if the four of them were almost a family, as “he was trapped in this house and he couldn’t think of where else he’d rather be” (Whitehead, 224). However, as the theme of this novel persists, all good things must come to an end and the skels eventually end up invading the house and the group separates. Prior to their disbanding, Mark Spitz had agreed to stay with the trio after the skels left and they were not trapped anymore. This glimpse at family and companionship in the midst of the plague was a glimmer of hope Mark Spitz allowed himself to enjoy, even against the warning to himself. Through his various experiences portrayed in the novel, Mark Spitz learned that hope only makes the disappointment worse when life comes crashing down, as seen when his relationship with Margie, Tad and Jerry comes to an end.

In reflecting on this dismal attitude when approaching life, I question if it is the best outlook to have. Setting yourself up for disappointment results in no surprise when when given the expected negative consequences. However, by living life with such a negative outlook, the process in getting to that consequence is depressing. If you let yourself have hope, life is more enjoyable in the time before a negative event occurs. A major symptom of depression is hopelessness (Half of Us, 2017). Living life with a hopeless outlook, as Mark Spitz tries to advocate for himself, can lead to depression. When an individual has no hope for the future, they are often not motivated to try and improve their life anymore. Mark Spitz’s statement about not allowing himself to be hopeful foreshadows his “forbidden thought” towards the end of the novel (Whitehead, 318). It is not surprising that he has thoughts of suicide, given his situation and loss of hope. I question how anyone can have hope in the conditions in Zone One.

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