Isolation or Connection By Riley Heiges

Total Isolation, No Hope
Cold Lonliness, Hot Anger
Self-Reliance, Distrust of Others
Love, Romance
Differences Set Aside, Embrace
End to War, Peace

In the Watchmen comic, a major reoccurring theme is whether it is better to be isolated from the world or to have strong bonds with other humans.

Jon (Dr. Manhattan) and Laurie on Mars

One of the main characters, Dr. Manhattan, has extraordinary, God-like powers including the ability to see/be in the future and past at the same "time." This power causes him to be emotionally isolated from other people and events since he already knows what is going to happen. He exists in multiple points in time, so he cannot alter the future since he is experiencing the future while in the present. This leads to further isolation as others do not understand why he will not help out often.

Still on Mars

By the end, however, Dr. Manhattan finally sees the value in human life. This goes even to the point of him suggesting that he will go to a different galaxy and create human life there. Does this support the notion of isolation since he leaves Earth or does this support the notion of connection since he is so fascinated by humans now that he is going to create more human life? I say it supports connection because he is going out and spreading life as opposed to simply abandoning humanity.


In part three there is the above discussion between a boy and a news vendor. The news vendor basically says that everyone is alone and can only rely on themselves. This supports the notion of isolation present throughout Watchmen.


However, the news vendor quickly changes his mind after learning that the Russians are invading Afghanistan as it makes Nuclear War much more likely. Over the span of a few pages his isolationist philosophy is discarded in favor of a new philosophy where people share and look out for one another. This makes this encounter between the boy and the news vendor one that now supports the notion of human connection as opposed to supporting isolation.

The pirate (left) and Adrian (right)

In Watchmen, there is a side story going on that is a comic book about a man that is stranded and is trying to get back to his home town to save it from pirates. To accomplish this he makes a raft out of his dead crew mates. The man goes crazy from drinking salt water and eating raw shark as he sails on his corpse raft. By the time he gets to his home town, he has convinced himself that the pirates have murdered his family and taken over the town. This leads to him murdering two innocent people and killing/hurting his wife before realizing his mistake. There are multiple clues throughout Watchmen that associate Adrian with this man in the pirate comic; the most obvious being the above two panels. This shows how Adrian went crazy and how trying to save the world by himself was a mistake, further supporting the notion that human connection is a beautiful thing. Adrian being wrong was further cemented in by Dr. Manhattan telling him that "nothing ever ends" in response to Adrian asking if he did "the right thing in the end."

Adrian after last talk with Dr. Manhattan

In conclusion, the notion of connection in Watchmen prevails over the notion of isolation. Most characters have come together and set aside their differences by the end of the comic. Adrian appears to realize there error of his attempt to save the world by himself just like the man in the pirate comic realizes his error too late. Dr. Manhattan regains interest in humanity and sets of to make humans in a different galaxy. The boy and the news vendor embrace each other right before they die. Human connection is ultimately made out to be more important than isolation or apathy.

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