All for One or One for All Julia Sefler

Isolation...

Like a lone boat in a mass ocean...

Like a park bench with no occupants...

Or like a man in an empty tunnel.

Or unity?

Like a group of people working towards a common goal...

Like the fairytale love between two newly weds...

Or the kind of companionship you find in cold, dark times.

Moments of both unity and isolation are found throughout the graphic novel, the Watchmen. The characters struggle to determine what they must do to survive in this pre-apocalyptic world: find companionship or fight on their own?

Dr Manhatten's Relationships with humans

Throughout the novel, Dr. Manhatten is largely disconnected with human emotions. He lies to both of his lovers, Janey and Lori, the only two humans he shows any affection towards. He tells them that he will "always want" Janey and that he will never love Lori like she loves him. His ability to see the future causes him to become apathetic towards his relationships with women and human affairs. This is evident at first when he allows the Comedian to kill a pregnant woman even though he had the power to stop this horrible tragedy. He isolates himself from the human world on the loneliest place imaginable, the uninhabited planet of Mars. His lack of empathy and desire to be left alone makes him selfish, evil, and pushes the world's fate into destruction. Maybe if he decided to seek out care and true relationships with the people in his life then he would have saved New York or himself from his own demise.

Rorschach's Thought Process

Rorschach grew up in a tough environment where companionship was hard to come by. His mother was well-known in the community for her sexual promiscuity. He finds himself isolated from his peers and turns to the superhero life where he can find consolation by caring for other's struggles rather than his own. When he is discovered and put in jail, the his therapist digs deeper into his past. Eventually, Rorschach invades his therapist's thoughts and causes him to adapt the isolationist mindset. The therapist stares at the Rorschach blot test and remarks that it is "meaningless blackness" and "we are alone, there is nothing else." Rorschach's isolationist mindset is different from Dr. Manhatten's - he separates himself from companionship but remains empathetic towards human affairs, but he feels like he is the only one, as seen in the bottom right comic clip. Maybe if he had attempted to connect with other humans to open up their eyes and hearts towards others, as he did with the therapist, then New York City may still be standing.

Adrian Veidt's Obsession and Isolation

Adrian Veidt is the epitome of an isolated castaway, alone with his narcissistic, obsessive thoughts. The castaway character and Veidt are paralleled by the two comic clips on the top left where they are both walking in the ocean as the sun sets. Veidt believes he alone can save the world, just as the castaway in the pirate story believes that he alone can save his family. In the end, both of them end up killing the very people they are trying to save. He is obsessed with himself, as revealed by the numerous figurines of himself on his desk, and feel that his intelligence allows him to surpass all other human beings. He sets out on his own trek to rule the world and rid it of evil as he sees fit, however, he is too narcissistic to see that he is the real evil. Perhaps if he had sought a second opinion or companion, he might have found an alternative path to saving the world.

Together in the Final Moments

The imagery of human embrace in the face of destruction is repeated throughout the novel. When the monster is dropped on New York, the newspaper vendor who was formerly unconcerned with the boy's affairs now embraces him in the last moments of their lives (see left comic). It is a beautiful moment that one would wish had occurred earlier when it could last. There is also a scene with Dreiberg's (Nite Owl's) vision of him kissing his love, Lori, in the middle of an atomic explosion that leaves them as skeletons. These two images speak to the novel's point about what really matters in the end: love and companionship.
Another point in the novel when humans start to look out for one another involves a minor character, the newspaper vendor. In the beginning of the chapter, his philosophy on life is that "In this world, you shouldn't rely on help from anybody. In the end, a man stands alone." This is ironic because in the end when New York City is destroyed, he embraces the little boy who he tells this philosophy to in the last seconds of their lives (see previous comic collage). In addition, he has a change of heart by the end of the chapter when the world gets closer to destruction as Russia invades Afghanistan, and he gives away a free newspaper.

In the end, I believe that this story closes with a positive outlook that promotes human unity. Much of the darkness and evil in the story comes from the isolation in the character's lives, such as Veidt's treachery and Dr. Manhatten's indifference. Both of these characters are castaways, just as the pirate that was closely paralleled to Veidt's story. Both of these lonely characters are key components in the path to New York's destruction. The morally righteous and emphatic characters, on the other hand, come together and unite in the face of evil. Rorschach and his old partner Nite Owl become a team again, the newspaper lender and child embrace as the monster lands in New York, and the Doctor finds reconciliation with his wife. The story ends with an important lesson that human companionship and unity is needed for true peace.

Credits:

Created with images by Unsplash - "sailing boat ocean open water" • zen spirits - "alone" • Transformer18 - "Alone" • jerryzhuca - "unity cooperation trust" • karenwarfel - "engagement couple romance" • Unsplash - "hands holding hands couple"

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