Discovery his blatant division from nature for

Discovery is
inherently a challenging and transformative process that predicates
personalised enrichment, broadening one’s perception of self and the world
governing them. This is evident in Robert Gray’s poetic anthology Coast Road: Selected Poems (2014), as “The
Meatworks” (1982) and “North Coast Town” (1985) congruently explore the
transience of nature in commercialised societies, and expose the abhorrent
reality of industrialisation. Similarly, Ursula Le Guin’s short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (1973)
captures the culmination of humanity’s immorality in the provocative discovery
of human sacrifice, presenting substantial psychological and ethical dilemmas.

Therefore, both texts reveal the didactic nature of discovery, whereby
adversity ultimately expedites our understanding of the human condition. 112

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The transformative
capacity of discovery testifies to the indispensability of capitalizing on
seemingly detrimental confrontations to refine discernment on social practices.

The hellish setting of the “Meatworks” is vicariously exemplified in the
synaesthesia of “the hot, fertilizer-thick, sticky stench of blood,” denouncing
the industrial indifference to scruple shown in the degenerated standards,
facilitating the confronting discovery of humanity’s culpability. Gray
criticizes the consumerism of the late 20th century as he delineates
the extent of Australia’s flourishing consumerism and avarice, where “working
with meat was like burning-off the live bush for this frail green money.” Here,
the simile captures the epiphany when the persona registers his blatant
division from nature for materialistic bounties, altogether sacrificing his
morality. Consequently, the realignment of the persona’s values is
engendered, prompting his efforts to relinquish his misdeeds as he “scoops up
the shell grit and scrubs his hands,” the intertextually semiotic of Lady
Macbeth’s endeavours to detach from guilt and find solace in introspection.

Affirming this, Gray characterises the persona around his Buddhist sentiments and
commends that he “usually didn’t take the meat,” the conspicuous juxtaposition
with the Meatworks expounding the persona’s justifications for his wrongdoings
and reconciliation with the natural environment. Hence, the persona’s discovery
of truth fosters a heightened understanding of society’s duplicity, rousing
scrutiny and an aversion to
consumerism. 217


The value in
rediscovering childhood to quantify development is accentuated in Gray’s
tableaux poem “North Coast Town”, whereby the disjunction between culture and
landscape is disdained. The persona’s idyllic preconceptions of “North Coast
Towns” are immediately subverted by the tactile imagery “stepping about on mud
… flushing in the urinal,” where the initial encounters with water
distastefully contrast the beauty of the expected sea. Gray utilizes chrome
descriptions of the environment as the persona “eats a floury apple,” the
biblical allusion accompanied by the accusatory imagery of the “bulldozed
acres,” underscoring the dissonance between mankind and nature. Motifs of
shells are weaved throughout the poem in the “Shell station” and the “motel (stucco
with seashells),” manifesting the persona’s realization of the futility of
preserving nature, rendered ineffective due to the significance of urbanisation.

The persona’s detachment from his home town is ironically portrayed by his
alienation shown in the “locked” toilets and the “closed hamburger stand,”
elucidating that discoveries are fundamentally governed by context. This is
mirrored by the culturally segregating nature of urbanisation as
exemplified in the isolating proxemics
of the “Abo, not attempting to hitch, outside town,” fixating on his
recognition of the transience of his violated culture. Gray’s critiques of the
dysfunctionality between the man-made and natural, portrayed through the
Americanization of coastal towns, thus provokes the revaluation of humanity’s
burgeoning progress.


Yet while surface
corruptions can be easily distinguished and admonished, the unexpected
discovery of concealed immorality invokes a greater insight into humanity. Le
Guin’s conceptualization of a utopian civilization in Omelas is reinforced by the cumulative listing of “smiles, bells,
parades, horses and orgies,” which capitalizes on the reader’s credulousness
preceding their discovery. This Elysian notion is however diverted from and
juxtaposed with the realisation of the misery of a single child that predicates
and fuels the affluence of Omelas. Hence, the employment of the visceral
imagery “no calves … sits in its own excrement” induces “disgust, outrage and
impotence,” the epiphany of the sacrifice and the façade of the utopianism
rousing a dichotomous response. Either one of blissful ignorance or perpetual
guilt ensues, where the ramifications pertaining to each augment a discrete
facet of the human condition. In this way, some reluctantly shed “tears at the
bitter injustice … begin to perceive the terrible justice of reality, and to
accept it,” as the metaphor demonstrates the restraint of discovery, enabling
the indulgence in the ecstasy of life. However, mirroring both the personas
from Meatworks and North Coast Town, Le Guin pinpoints “The Ones Who Walk Away From
Omelas,” the title highlighting the
impacts of the awareness of the Utilitarian paradigm and social impiety on
those who cannot bear the guilt. Indeed, the author’s depictions of moral
turnarounds and the rejection of ultimatums that compromise morality serve as
criticism on society’s toleration of injustices, engendering
transformations in readers.


Therefore, it is
through the amalgamation of Gray’s Coast
Road: Selected Poems and Le Guin’s The
Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas that discovery can be scrutinized Q. Q
Gray’s altruistic concerns for society’s degradation due to greed and Le Guin’s
periscopic outlook on the magnitude of concealed corruptions within society,
allowing readers to vicariously discover and expand their human experience.