Many people are born, so to speak, with a silver spoon. Surrounded with relative luxury, all their needs are met, and many of their desires fulfilled. At the same time, there are those who are born with a shadow of darkness hanging over them, unable to avert isolation, neglect, and treachery. All Anthony Edwards, Jr., the main character in Levan Blackwell’s emotional roller coaster Is He Gone?, seeks is a father who will watch basketball games with him and a peer group where he can belong. By the standards of many, this isn’t a wish list that’s over the top, but for “Ant”-it seems it’s the wish list that was never meant to be.
Throughout trying times, Anthony, Jr. is able to stave off his dark fate by taking Uncle Ken’s advice to avoid paying attention to the tumultuous scenes at home. The narrator describes Ant as an individual who “always had the ability to vision himself in better places when things got a bit hectic and this would be a quality he would have to turn to many times for years to come.” Unfortunately, there comes a point when the negative environment in which he finds himself becomes too overwhelming to simply escape through positive thinking.
Anthony, Jr. is systematically desensitized and broken down through a constant dose of pain, making his very existence ultimately intolerable. Is He Gone? is a story about an individual who finds hardship around every corner of his life’s journey. Just when he becomes attached and is in the process of healing, fate intervenes and careens him into a state of depression once again.
The psyche is powerful but vulnerable. Like his neighborhood friend, Chris-who is abducted and used as a pawn to get a hold of his drug-dealing brother-Ant’s self-esteem is all but destroyed by adverse circumstances; it’s as though he is fighting a losing battle from the beginning.
Countless individuals throughout history and classic literature, like Oedipus and Hamlet, appear to be puppets of fate, doomed to be victims of tragic events. Is Anthony Edwards, Jr. doomed as well? Read Levan Blackwell’s Is He Gone? to see what fate befalls this young man who was once so full of promise.
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