Come Out the Wilderness: Character Analysis

Last Updated: 07 Jul 2020
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“Come Out the Wilderness” James Baldwin’s “Come out the Wilderness,” presents the mentally isolated Ruth Bowman’s thoughts about men and her unwillingness to forget past relations. Growing up as a child, Ruth is sexually harassed by a guy whom her parents and brother think she is voluntarily sexually involved with. The events that happen in a previous era was a stepping stone into a life of low-self esteem and much insecurity that follows. The uncontrollable event causes her to be dependent on men and to have uncertainty in relationships. Ruth is educated in school, and she uses her skills on her job as a secretary, which she is promoted to.

Ruth is a complicated woman in her thoughts as well as her actions. The feeling of not being wanted circulates Ruth’s mind. The memories of changed perceptions on her part by her family, devastates her. She has had past relationships but to no prevail in finding true happiness. Life in her eyes is characterized by being with a man who rarely acknowledges her features as a woman. He merely acknowledges when his urges have arisen and are in need of satisfying. Marriage to her seems as if a man is living with her whom she wants to love her and make her feel special ; though that is not the case. The relationship she has is inexplicable.

Life may seem barren to a woman of Ruth’s nature. She goes to bars every night in hopes of time passing as she waits for her husband to get home. Ruth believes her husband has another woman, but does not obsess with the thought. She simply lives with his decisions whatever they may be, because she is dependent on him. Ruth is comparable to old-time wives in the way she allows her husband to do whatever he wants maybe because of masculinity or perhaps the doubt of him coming home. That signifies defeat, on her part, in the game of life. Ruth does not have any stability in her relationship with Paul, and it is filled with disbelief.

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She is unsure if he loves her still, or wants her around, and what he thinks of her appearance. “She could not help feeling that he treated her this way because of her color, because she was a colored girl" (378). Ruth has many doubts towards Paul and his actions. She does not truly know why he gets home late. Paul proclaims he is working at those times, but Ruth suspects wrong conjectures. Ruth is dominated by Paul in her yielding persona towards him. Ruth is unsure if she even wants to take the secretary job her boss gives her. She reluctantly accepts in order to better her career. She is also victim to gossip she proclaims to her boss.

The situation when her boss walks with her during lunch evidently means he has an obsession with Ruth. Though he likes Ruth, she cannot bring herself to commit adultery typed deeds. Even though her self-esteem is low she does not accept his flattery genuinely because of her own moral code. Flattery does not even help with her self-esteem issues. She is committed to her job and takes it seriously even though she awaits a call from Paul when she is at work. Ruth gets her work done and does not pay attention to the other women at her job because she is not focused on the idle topics of their gossip filled conversations.

She is filled with information on their subjects. Ruth is the type of woman who is there for her husband even if he is not there for her and her endeavors. The relationship they have is lazy and needs reconstruction if there are hopes for it to persist. Ruth does her best to please Paul as far as cleaning and cooking. She tries to look good for him but no acknowledgment leads her to believe her actions are in vein. She often day dreams about past relationships compared to her relationship with Paul. She is always reminded of her dirty past, "She bawled at last: 'Goddamit, I wish I had, I wish I had.

I might as well of done it! ' Her father slapped her. Her brother gave her a look and said: 'You dirty... you dirty... you black and dirty' " (382). Ruth hates her husband for not ending the tiring relationship and wishes them both dead. She smokes cigarettes because of her depression. The cigarettes may also symbolize her attempt to join her husband in a similar trait, to have something in common. Insecurities in Ruth’s life prevent her from being happy although she is married. Marriage does not hide the fact that two people are not happy; though she does attract attention from her boss Mr.

Davis. She walks and has a conversation with him about life. She and Paul have tension between each other in an environmental way. Ruth thinks her relationship with Paul is heading to an end. | "She knew that he was going to leave her. It was in his walk, his talk, and his eyes. He wanted to go. He had already moved back, crouching to leap. And she had no rival. He was not going to another woman. He simply wanted to go. It would happen today, tomorrow, three weeks from today; it was over she could do nothing about it; neither could she save herself by umping first, She had no place to go, she only wanted him. She tried hard to want other men, and she was still young, only twenty-six, and there was no real lack of opportunity. But all she knew about other men was that they were not Paul. ” (Baldwin 378) Ruth has many realizations in her life that include her past mistakes that she continues to make relationship wise; she picks the wrong guys In her own mind. The cycle stated with musician named Arthur, he is twenty years older than Ruth. She did not love him; she just couldn’t escape his domination.

She also knew a merchant seaman who whored around a lot. She liked him but loneliness in him was like a cancer, which was unfit for intercourse. The difference or main difference between the two, Arthur and the seaman is the fact that Arthur offered more as in life and education. Paul is the only one she loves but does not know if he loves her anymore. She does not even know if she loves him. She cannot leave because he is her husband and she just cannot go through with the action. Ruth gives up so much in her life to please her man that characteristic prevents her from living in happiness. She was in a reckless, desperate state, like flight. She knew that she could not possibly go home to cook supper and wait in an empty apartment until Paul's key turned apartment door's lock (388). ”   Happiness does not follow Ruth though she has the chance to find it; she passes on it every time Ruth cannot function without a man ; that is why she is so dependent on them. She will never be at peace in life with her mind set and the way she carries herself. Self-esteem is important in a relationship but Ruth has non-to-little of that trait. Even when Mr.

Davis her boss treats her with great respect in order to please and woo her; his attempts are flaunted by her dependent attitude towards Paul. The obvious assumption that Mr. Davis is better for her is evident. Her misfortunes are to continue if her dependent thoughts continue. Those actions will lead her nowhere in life and in her relationship. Ruth is a strange minded person who needs help to get over the man who shows no care for her which is Paul. | | Ruth is dependent on her husband Paul physically and mentally, which prevents her from moving on even though there is no love in the past relationship; seemingly. She did not want to be friends with him nor desire their friendship become anything more (Baldwin 387). ” All of Ruth’s failures result from her family and their perception of her. She shows all the symptoms of depression in her house and life. Marriage is the step she takes to not be alone. Sexual Harassment can change a person’s thoughts on life and the struggles in it drastically. That can also influence what is in her life and the people she has in it. Ruth has had a rough life and there may not be any turning back from disaster. Ruth is alone as she sees in her mind.

Ruth Bowman is a woman with much insecurity from past events that prevents her from moving on in life. She is a woman with many skills and talents. She has no love shown towards her by the person she wants to see it shown from. Ruth is mistakenly accused by her family and leaves out of despair. She is taken care of by an aspiring musician by the name of Arthur. Arthur provides her with education and flattery. She leaves Arthur and gets in a relationship with Paul whose love for her gets weak and eventually is not shown towards her. Mr. Davis, her boss, shows an obsession towards her as they walk and talk together.

She wonders why Paul will not leave because it is evident that he shows no love towards her. Ruth wishes to profess her love, but acts as if everything is ok with she and Paul. Ruth acknowledges her role as a wife and succumbs to the domination of Paul, as well as, the other gentlemen that showed interest in her. Ruth is in a time period where men are the dominant humans while women’s ideals mean nothing. Ruth’s despair is what causes her depression other than her bad luck with men. She is the prime example of a woman guided by a man. Ruth has a kind heart, but that is not enough to keep her pleased.

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Come Out the Wilderness: Character Analysis. (2017, May 01). Retrieved from

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