Review of the Human Stain
Roth has beautifully depicted the emotions and incidents. The novel reaches at a very tragic juncture and readers find themselves at a very confusing and tragic episode because in the earlier chapters they read several interesting instances of sex stories and affairs. The great irony of the Roth’s novel is that the bewilderment between stain and spotless, purity and impurity are visibly self contradictory. As soon as these ideas were structured, got restructured and seemed to be destructed at a later stage in the novel. Basically in this novel there is an array of contradictions, it seems usually that purity is in perseverance on impurity. Somewhere it seems rigid against the principle and ethics and in other instances it shows intolerance. The way the incidents and the characters have been portrayed, compels the readers to think about the novel. One starts relating the novel to his or her daily and practical life. At the end of the day, in the novel there is impurity but it depends and left on the reader to explain it as per his or her set of mind.
All three of these characters react in various ways to the concept of righteous moral outrage which is echoed by the book's setting near the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Like Bill Clinton, Silk is taken down and ravaged because of relatively inconsequential acts that have no bearing on his ability or his capacity to do his job. His secret is a secret because the hounds of the media and those like Delphine Roux would take him down, sometimes out of schaudenfreude or because of their own desires or need for retribution (Safer, p. 211). Faunia has already accepted the flawed nature of this world and its ability to judge unfairly, and thus has kept her ability to participate in it a secret. Through her interactions with Silk, they find kindred spirits who do not want to play the game of politics any longer.
While The Human Stain seems to argue for the superpower of secrecy—a superpower of knowledge that can persuade and alter minds—real growth comes from coming to terms with the fact that people—as well as our judgment of them—will change over time. Social scientist Dolly Chugh uses the notion of “goodish” as an adjustment of our expectation of ourselves and our assessment of others. Defining ourselves as “goodish” is an invitation to do better and keep learning. Defining Coleman Silk or Philip Roth as “goodish” enables us to keep the good even while the bad bubbles up all around it; to maintain our criticism while acknowledging that which is invaluable in each of them.
Neelakantan, G. "Secrecy and Self-Invention: Philip Roth's Postmodern Identity in The Human Stain." International Fiction Review vol. 34, no. 1-2, 2007. Print.
Roth, Philip. The Human Stain. Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print.
Safer, Elaine B. "Tragedy and Farce in Roth's The Human Stain." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 211-227. 2010. Print.