Ham on Rye, by Charles Bukowski, is a semi-autobiography novel during Henry’s school years. Henry is a character who has been through a lot of struggles, his environment and school are big factors of his struggles. He also doesn’t have the opportunity to know and respect himself, he desperately tries to be someone he isn’t and he has issues in finding his true nature. Henry does in fact relates to me in a way, but knowing what are my morals and values which are completely different to Henry’s. I have figured out that he lacks the desire for something, in other words, he doesn’t show any sign of drive. Henry also isn’t a social active person, he is being called names, being rejected and again everything happening to him causes him to be distant from everyone even his parents. Unsociable – No Goal/Motivation
One period of my lifetime, I also did feel that I lacked having a desire for something, was in my first year in College. I was accepted in Health Science and I chose this program because I had the grades and most of my friends applied in the same program. I did not have any goals or motivations to keep on moving forward, I only followed the flow and I hopelessly believed that one day, I will end up having a reason for me to go to school and to follow a dream career. In my first semester, I wasn’t sociable and I didn’t talk much with anybody, I just got to school to attend to my classes and then I quickly got home when I was done. I never had a thought about spending quality time with people, I was really detached from the world. I did have some high school friends in Dawson, but I barely saw them because of our schedules being different and our breaks wasn’t always at the same time. There was a guy in my chemistry class that I partnered with to complete a chemistry lab, he was a guy how talked quite a lot and I was not. I am not that kind of guy who would be disrespectful either, but if I were to talk to someone I tried to keep the conversation as short as possible. Anyways, my lab partner kept talking to me and he questioned me about some things but, I would give him short answers to end or try to end the conversation. This is a sign that I was an unsociable person and I did not want to be involved in social activities such as the lab period with the guy.
The protagonist, Henry, is someone who is not really involved socially but he does go to school. The fact that he acts tough around people is also a sign that he is not connected with the world, he feels rejected and therefore, he desperately acts as someone he is not. He is disconnected from the world, “… since some people had told me that I was ugly, I always preferred shade to the sun, darkness to light.” (99) He is completely different from the majority; he likes what others normally dislike. However, it isn’t his fault either, he is being called ugly which means that people around him also rejects him thus making Henry an outcast. Henry’s solution in being rejected is to act tough, he thinks by acting that way he can defy everyone. Since there is no one to support him, he is captive in a world where he is not accepted. It is rare for an individual to care for Henry such as Miss Ackerman, she had sympathy towards Henry (135) and Henry also adds, “She was the kindest person I had met in eight years.” (136) When Miss Ackerman had pity for Henry, Henry felt uncomfortable, for the the first time in a long time he had a feeling of being cared for. In that moment, he saw a faint light of hope that he can fit in the world, but it is not the case. Miss Ackerman is one of the only characters he met that cared for him including Becker. There was a time when Henry wrote, about a German aviator in World War 1, “He was an ugly man with scars on his face, but he was beautiful if you looked long enough–it was in the eyes, his style, his courage, his fierce aloneness.” (146) In this passage, the aviator refers to Henry, the man being ugly with scars in his face is the perspective of the world and the man having style, courage and fierce are characteristics that Henry has but nobody can figure it out. Henry proves that the world can’t understand him and he is alone in a vast land. He also says: “Nobody seemed to understand him and nobody knew how he had become so skillful with the red Fokker and in his other strange ways.” (147) Henry is different from others, he has his ways and since it differs from the majority, he is not welcome. To sum all up, Henry is not sociable and he is also not connected to the world, he resembles to me in a way in my debut in College.