About In the Country of Last things by Auster

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Auster's vision unfolds in an ending universe in the horror of death, mystery, and dissolution, and everything that leads to the termination happens slowly. In this strange place, nameless and eerily familiar, wherein In the Country of Last Things qualifies the environment as defined by the poet, one sees a house and the next day it is gone, tens of thousands sleep in gutters as streets vanish without a trace. As the debris characterizes the toll on survival, the human population is vulnerable to harsh and volatile environmental events (Lucia-Hedviga 678). Starvation is real, and people are emaciated to the level of holding hands in chains to overcome the wallowing wind`s ability to blow them. It is frustrating how people quickly forms lines when rumors about the shelter and food loom, even just a newspaper for a blanket. The unpredictable and erratic weather is cruel, with too much rain and too hot sun the following day, making life unbearable (Auster 18). The stench of death has become real and to this point is seems to be the only sure phenomenon in sight. The many issues that emerge as core elements of the discussion Auster projects include climate change, the great depression which was characterized by a shrinking middle class, hunger, and starvation, the Jewish Holocaust and the concept of death in entirety as well as the repressive government regimes. To build the argument that the novel is cautioning us to examine our past and present behavior, it is thus not only imperative to identify the issues Auster discusses and research about them, but also critical to consider the presentation of these issues in the novel.

The present day realities are true manifestation of repressive regimes; government orchestrated holocaust against certain minorities. The plight of gang violence, homelessness, leadership administrations as purveyors of misinformation and authoritarian entities, as well as starvation and poverty, are practical experiences. Just like is the case for Alice, Anna faces an unprecedented future, ad her life is at stake, considering the heightening elements in focus of the twentieth century. What turns out to be empirical irony and juxtaposition in the contemporary world are the best of the options Ann chooses as survival tactics. The Runners have been characterized as those who shout at the top of their voices in the street as they run fast to meet their demise. The rich join the clinics that administer Euthanasia so that after moments of suffering, the rich can pass away amidst the bliss that is a rare find in the times. On the other hand, the dire effects of the economy which have resulted in poverty and hunger are witnessed when the emaciated citizens put newspapers beneath their clothing to be mistaken for well-fed personalities and avoid public shame. The society is not ready to deal with the reality of the day. Adverse weather conditions with too much rain to persevere and the accompanying cold temperatures, which drastically change into the successive hot temperatures in the subsequent days are evidenced by climate change that has taken the contemporary world by surprise (Auster 128). Nevertheless, there are individuals names the Smilers who have an active perception and well convinced that the economic depression and the weather tragedies will come back to normal is people remained optimistic. Indeed, the condition that the reader learns is that human beings are powerful creatures who can manipulate the circumstances however dire they appear to their advantage, rather, it is a clear show that humanity has fallen vulnerable to the atrocities of the day, and the powerlessness evidenced is inevitably a show of the self-denial in miniature strategies engaged by few. It is even more disturbing when at some point Anna runs away from a slaughter house. This is a practical allusion to the Jewish Holocaust, whereby the Nazi executions were real, and the marginalized Jewish religion, as well as the mentally and physically handicapped, were slaughtered.

The issues that Auster discusses include the great depression, hunger, starvation, the Holocaust Jewishness, and climate change, all characterized by extremists that compromise the integrity of human life, as is evidenced by scholarly research. Having commenced in 1929 and lasted for the following eleven years, the great depression refers to the worst economic fall of the industrialized world then. Tens of millions of investors in the Wall Street were wiped out, following the crash of the stock market in October 1929 (Bordo and James 127). After wall street had come down to its knees, it was inevitable that for the following one-decade consumer investment and spending dropped, companies laid off tens of thousands, industrial declines were evidenced, banks closed down, and populations predisposed to hunger. Fifteen million Americans had lost their jobs, and more than one-half of the country`s banks closed by 1933. On the other hand, Auster brings out the issues of the Holocaust, most likely alluding to the Jewish persecution in continental Europe, wherein approximately six million Jews were exterminated by the Nazi Germany under the orchestration of Adolf Hitler during the World War II (O’Shaughnessy 56). The killings marked the worst historical oppression that was phenomenal to the global mass murder. Furthermore, the experience witnessed in the novel In the Country of Last things is a clear manifestation of the effects of climate change, following the unpredictable weather conditions that fall in extremes of temperatures and precipitation. Climate change sets in when typical weather patterns known for millennia shift into new parameters that last for long. Phenomenal characteristics of climate change include the changes in biotic processes; plate tectonics, solar radiation as well as volcanic eruptions and precipitation extremes. Human activities cause global warming, for instance, due to the greenhouse gasses effects (Kerr 1412). All these occurrences are very phenomenal in the narration argued out by Auster in this book.

Furthermore, elements of a shrinking middle class and repressive regimes of governance are indisputable evidence in the arguments stipulated by Auster. Initially, the effects of a shrinking middle class were felt in the Deep South, Appalachia, as well as Rust Belt, nevertheless, as years counted, the challenge extended to other American metropolitan regions. The widening social and economic inequality, family wage jobs as well as the declining industrial output were characteristics witnessed that demographically shaped the challenges that faced the American society. On the contrary, the concept of political repression as well comes out conspicuously in the text. Persecutions, political discrimination, as well as the marginalization of individual communities or people characterizes the course of repressive regimes. Furthermore, human rights are obliterated, the rights of citizens infringed on, summary executions, torture, and denied access to basic like shelter, clothing, food, and medical services too are a common manifestation. All these elements are broadly and extensively presented in the In the Country of Last things by the Author.

William is a journalist who has gone missing mysteriously is the brother to one Anna Blume, young women in the steadily but terrible disintegrating city. Aster`s narration is a letter done by Anna Blume critically describing her risky adventures in a faraway metropolitan whose terrible termination threatens her existence. She wonders how one need to make sensitive compromises in such a deadly environment, where all are afflicted, the mighty and the meek have no favor in the eyes of the dire situation which has claimed overwhelmingly escalating numbers of lives (Auster 198). Through the eyes of Anna Blume, the Auster`s audience can recognize the repressive regime and the Holocaust in the falling city, when she creates pathos through her statement, “when you find yourself looking at a dead child, at a little girl lying in the street without any clothes on, her head crushed and covered with blood?” (Lucia-Hedviga 671). In this new and unsafe world, Anna Blume becomes a scavenger, hunting objects to sell as the industrial segment has been rendered nonexistent, and nothing new is there to be bought nor be accessed. All that can be reached and utilized are the old thing, and life has lost meaning, poverty, and hunger on escalation, phenomenal aspects that mirror the elements of the great depression. Indeed, a feeling created and an atmosphere structures by the author compels the reader to imagine how the situation seems dire, and that every new day escalates to a worse threat to life than the preceding one.

Indeed, it is practical that an argument that the novel is cautioning us to examine our past and present behavior, through the eyes of the protagonist is very real, based on the agonizing and melancholic despondency tone Auster sets. The atmosphere of grief, frustration, emotional distress, as well as fear and anxiety, spurs a chain of thoughts in the minds of the readers, and occurrences that challenge humanity to examine their past and the present, to avoid repeating the terrible history. Nevertheless, the future is hypothetical in this case because Auster explains the end of the world in entirety. Even though Auster compels his audience to believe that the world is on the brink of termination and that humanity has limited chances of survival in all dimensions, a critical look at the twentieth-century civil injustices and human extermination rules out the extreme stance the author sets. The book is a show of the faults of the contemporary society, a mirror that reflects the heinous acts of the human person. The challenges that follow, the social injustices sand society breakdown are dire manifestations of the history that were (Auster 166). Even though the theme of post-apocalyptic experiences does not claim the significant alignment of the text, it is evidenced from Auster`s arguments that this is more of a religious allegory than any creative imagination. Nevertheless, the concepts discussed like climate change, the great depression of the economy, government repression, social injustices, and summary executions, as well as Holocaust and torture, are phenomenal characteristics of what befalls humanity when ethical, moral, scientific evidence, political stability, and rational uprightness is not upheld. On the contrary, this could be a clear caution against the human faults in the present world, so that humanity can feel the palpable dangers of the evil that are perpetuated from decade to the next without ever considering a sober, peaceful, and rational global atmosphere of human existence.


Auster, Paul. “In the Country of Last Things.” 2010: 1–218. Web.

Bordo, Michael, and Harold James. “The Great Depression Analogy.” Financial History Review 17.2 (2010): 127–140. Web.

Kerr, Ricahrd Richard A. “Pushing the Scary Side Of Global Warming.” Science 316 (2007): 1412–1415. Web.

Lucia-Hedviga, Pascariu. “Entropy and Loss: Paul Auster’s In the Country of Last Things.” Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 92 (2013): 678–685. Web.

O’Shaughnessy, Nicholas. “Selling Hitler: Propaganda and the Nazi Brand.” Journal of Public Affairs 2009: 55–76. Web.

October 20, 2021
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