“There is nothing I can’t do!” exclaimed Doris Lessing’s protagonist in her short story, Sunrise on the Veld. In this story, Lessing illustratrates the vanity and invincibility of adolescence. This story accurately depicts how youth sometimes fail to recognize the reality that humans cannot change the future or natural order of things. In this essay, we will demonstrate how several authors attempt to portray death, and what comes after it.
The fifteen-year-old boy in Lessing’s story shouts to the world, proclaiming that he is invincible as he flies across the open field before sunrise. Believing he has complete control of himself, his life and his future, he carelessly confuses popular teen fiction with reality. He thinks that the world revolves around him, his “sin of self love possessed all [his] mind and all his soul every part”, as Shakespeare put it in his Sonnet 62. Henry Longfellow declared that the best path for a young person, in A Psalm of Life, is to “learn to labor and to wait.” This is the most important thing one can learn at this stage in life.
In the same way, Bill Watterson, in a comic, depicts how children are often unwilling to accept the direction of their parents. Also, 14-year old poet Jason Lehman, wrote a poem concerning change, from the season’s changes to the changes in people as their lives progress. He discusses in it how people want something they cannot have. “I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted…” This seems to be a consistent theme with youth.
Moreover, after the boy in Sunrise on the Veld sees a strong buck eaten alive by ants, he realizes it could not have escaped death and changes his mindset. From full of pride and invincibility, emptied to a helpless and pathetic human in a very short time, he realizes how incapable and temporary we are.
Sunrise on the Veld is an unforgettable story with a truth that stands out. However, it is missing a true resolution. In Anna Warring’s hymn, Father I Know that All my Life, she resolves that our lives are perfectly portioned out by the Lord. She wrote, “The changes that are sure to come, I do not fear to see.” Though death will come, we have no fear because we can look forward with anticipation to what lies after death- eternal life with our Father.