(Ten and a Half) an Essay

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J. Barnes wrote The History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters andthe tenth chapter argues a most unusual point. Charlie, the main character, isdead.  He is somewhere like heaventhat could also be hell. Barnes discusses issues in this final chapter that arepresent throughout the novel. These issues are wide ranging and go from beingclean vs. unclean to the issue of love. Love is the most important. This finalchapter is all about what Charlie considers love. He sometimes uses it as asynonym for sex even though he tells us that he loves his wife and cannot stopthinking about her all the time that he is not with her. “You’re not too goodwith the truth” can be said of this chapter. Moving on, it’s about God’s lovefor us and how that love requires judgment. We saw similar judgments about lovein “Parenthesis”. It was a chapter that delved into love and how it issomething that can easily be weighed and quantified, which he shows when theycut up the heart. Love of self is the love that’s really at the center of thisfinal chapter. Charlie’s actions illustrate this and holds a mirror up to thereader.






J. Barnes wrote The History of the world in 10 ½ chapters, and thetenth chapter argues the most unusual point. Charlie, the main character, is dead,and he is in something like heaven, but it could also be hell. The issues thatBarnes discusses throughout the novel are indeed present even here in the finalchapter. These issues arewide-ranging and can go from being clean vs. unclean to the issue of

love. Love is the most important. It is all about what it is that Charlieconsiders love as he sometimes uses itas a synonym for sex even though he tells us that he loves his wife and cannot stop thinking about her all thetime that he is not with her. “You’renot too good with the truth” can be said of this chapter. Moving on, it’s about God’s love for us and how thatlove requires judgment. We saw similar judgments about love in parenthesis it was a chpater that delved intolove and how it is something that can easily be weighed and quantified which heshows when they cut up the heart. Allin all, then, love of self is the love that’s really at the center of thisfinal chapter Charlie’s actions showus this and so hold a mirror up to us we readers.



3. In J. Barnes last chapter of The History of the World in 10 ½Chapters, “the Dream”, he puts forth the idea that we will eventually getwhat we deserve which often isn’t what we think we want.

The main character, Charlie is only dreaming andnot dead. He has found himself somewhere that seems like heaven but eventuallyappears more like a type of hell. This is a place where everyone gets anoverdose of their most selfish desires and is tormented with the repercussionsof living a godless and loveless life.

In this final chapter Barnesbarely touches the points found in the previous chapters, yet he somehow pullsthe story together into a cohesive final chapter. “The Dream” seems to slapCharlie in the face because in this “Principle Heaven” which replaces the “OldHeaven” satisfaction is unattainable.Barnes develops these ideas by touching on a wide range of issues fromprevious chapters such as the value of human life [be it clean or unclean] andthe enigma of love.

 Barnesused love as a synonym for sex in “Parenthesis”. The narrator was incapable ofexpressing his adoration for his mistress all the while obsessesing about her.We saw similar judgments about love in “Parenthesis” where love is somethingnot easily weighed and quantified because as Barnes put it, “the heart isn’talways heart shaped”. Throughout “The Dream”, Charlie doesn’t yearn forromantic love or even God’s love; in fact he only makes brief mention of hiswife or his Maker. He doesn’t ever speak of loving or missing them. HoweverCharlie was a bit suspicious when he asked for Jesus and he wasn’t there,though Hitler was.  Charles waseven more confused when someone other than God judged him and only ranked himas “O.K”.  Barnes’s Woodworm in“Stowaway” said it all in the first chapter when he observed that “humansaren’t always, too good with the truth” which Barnes demonstrated between thelines that one man’s heaven can be another man’s hell and that our personaljudgment and desire defines our destiny.


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