THE CAVE is Robert Penn War-
ren's sixth and best novel. An
ambitious work, it is, in every
sense,a big novel. Starting with
a quotation from The Republic,
Warren proceeds to investigate
the implications of Plato's com-
ment on shadows and reality.
The reality here springs from
the discovery of an abandoned
guitar and a pair of Monkey-
Ward boots, meaningful symbols.
A man is trapped in a cave. "At-
tention must be paid."
We meet the big cast of char-
acters slowly; they move onto the
scene two by two and generally in
terms of sexual involvement or
frustration. Coupling is, for Mr.
Warren, the essence of the hu-
man social condition. Only Jasper
Harrick, the man in the cave, is
But as the novel progresses, we
discover its theme: the isolation
of every individual. Each man and
every woman is ultimately alone
in his own cave, the deep recess
of the human heart where single
destinies must be worked out.
(II New Novel Depicts
THE CAVC Isolation of Man
THE ARCHITECTURE of this'
novel is impressive. The open-
ing half is deliberately slow-mov-
ing; the characters are involved
in explaining themselves and their
needs, to each other as well as to
themselves. But as the tension
grows, the tempo speeds up. The
second half of the book' moves
with a speed that is ,more than
exciting; true, there is the actual
man in the cave presumably strug-
gling for life, and^ there is, the
question whether the rescuers will
be able to reach him. But the
amazing feat of the author is that
as we move more deeply into the
life of each character, we are also
exposed to the larger social pictire
For the central event of the book
is no isolated occurrence. Hun-
THE CAVE by Robert Penn War-
ren, Random House, New York,
1959, 403 pp., $4.95.
dreds, thousands of -people are
drawn by curiosity- and concern
to 'the site. The whole raucous
contemporary world moves in: the
church, the law, the communica-
tions media, the enterprizing busi-
ness men. Tensions develop and
the inevitable hysteria both clari-
fies individual problems and il-
luminates the social scene. Mr.
Warren has discovered a won-
derful device, a means of isolating
a situation and a group of char-
acters so that we can see into the
motives and passions of individ-
uals as well as observe the social
mass. Inevitably; our view be-
comes satirical as we watch the
forces at work: evangelical fervor
side by side with greed, the at-.
tempts at order trying to reconcile
exposure and the rights of privacy,
compassion at war with curiosity.
I N THIE MIND of Mr. Bingham,
banker,frustrated husband, f a-
ther of a misunderstood but much
loved (too much?) daughter, man
unaccustomed to think, occur these
"Thousands of people, he
didn't know how many, had
come here because a poor boy
had got caught in the ground,
and had lain there dying. They,
had wept, and prayed, and
boozed, and sung and fought,
and fornicated, and in all ways
possible had strived to break
through to the heart of the
mystery which was themselves.
No, he thought, remembering
Brother Sumpter with his armsa
uplifted under the floodlights,
to break out of the dark mystery
which was themselves."
This seems to me to be a sum-
mary of what the book is all about:
man's desire to know;shimself and
then his need. for compassion.
Although I find The Cave afirst-
rate novel, it is not a flawless
piece of work. The opening chap..-
ters tend to be somewhat diffuse.
And Mr. Warren's style on oc-
casion raises certain difficulties.
One has the feeling that as aa
Southerner writing,. about the
South, he sometimes strains after'
a kind of rhetoric which doesn't
come off. For example, this para-
"So she had married him,
him, John T.-who, however,
remained Jack in the saluta-
tion of Johntown and in the
tales told, gradually becoming
Old Jack in the tales, but -re-
maining Jack, not John T. or
Old Jack, ,1n his own thoughts,
except now and then when, 'm
she called him John T., some
vague half-humorous but dis-
comfiting wonderment started
up as to where Jack Harrick
had gone, or worse, who he had
been,' after all."
T IS DIFFICULT, perhaps im.
possible, to achieve the Faulk-
nerian manner which seems to me
the intent of this passage; what
emerges is parody rather than
imitation. Mr. Warren writes well
enough not to need to do this kind
However, these are minor flaws
in a fine piece of work. Mr. War-
ren has learned his craft well. I
must admit that I have not pre-
viously been an admirer of his
fiction, which has struck me as
being overblown and somewhat
too dependent upon tricks. But in
The Cave, Robert Penn Warren
has given us a mature and a satis-
fying novel. Certainly by compari-
son with other curfrent "best sell-
ers," I should rank it high.
DISTINCT sense of identity
binds the integration-minded
American Negro with his African
As long as skin color makes a
difference, the Negro will be drawn
to. those of his race' who suffer
from the effects of segregation and
The idea that Bantus in the
Union of South Africa are held in
check by a government sworn to
the harsh apartheid policy of ab-
solute separatism tightens a bond
between two culturally different
peoples. Natives in Rhodesia and
the Belgian Congo who are re-
belling against the idea of Euro-
pean superiority further strength-
ens this identity. F
While the Negro in America
ultimately hopes to be totally as-
similated to the mainstream of
American social and cultural life,
African and Ar
By CHARLES KOZ
The American Negro strives for assimilation in a white society
through integration of the schools.
,6bimilation or Vi
hey realizes that this submersion
isn't within the near future. He
recognizes that now and perhaps
for some time to come, he will be
the "bottom- man" in this country
and throughout other parts of the
In this country, a minority of
the supposed intellectual Negro
elite will hasten to absolve any
bonds of racial fraternalism. This
hierarchy's rationale claims that
the quickest means of losing "col-
ored identity" is to sever connec-
tion with areas of the world that
are often regarded as uncivilized.
BUT THE majority of American
Negroes-the lower classes and
up through the educated sectors-
hopethe linkbetween the two
groups will never be dissolved.
Emotions control the attitude of
the lower - income, uneducated
groups while the intelligentsia re-
lies on rational judgement to
assess their African perspective.
The situations in these two
different areas can be most easily
viewed in terms of the universal
concept of progress. American
Negroes seek to develop within a
society which may eventually in-
tegrate them into the economic,
political and social spheres.
This society is constructed to
accommodate white elements and
must stretch its acceptance pat-
tern to admit those of another
color as equals. Equality here is
applied in the sense of being part
Vol. VI, No. 3
Sunday, October 18,
3 07 South State
THE CAVE-MAN'S ISOLATION
By Marvin Felheim.
By Al Young.
BATTLE OF THE BULGE
By Karl Reichenbach.
South African women
protest government restrictions against travel by non-whites. The African
colored person strives for nationalistic goao,
THE BIRTH OF JAZZ
By Dave Giltrow.
JAZZ PHOTO FEATURE
THE UNIQUE ELEMENTS
By Richard Pollinger.
ASSIMILATION OR IDENTITY?
By Charles Kozoll_
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