James Hilton's Lost Horizon

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In James Hilton's, Lost Horizon, one of the biggest themes in the book is the clashing between different lifestyles, East vs. West. The novel first begins with a group of four British Westerners who were, unexceptionally kidnapped on an airline. This event lead to a planed crashed in a Roomate area - Shangri-La. The story is told by the main character known as Conway. The group, along with Conway, demonstrates their English background in their questioning and doubts about the Shangri-La and, the life of lama. They talk about the lamasery and Buddhism and how unique their lifestyles are. The view point of the West is that contemplation and being excommunicated from the outside world seem immoral. Miss Brinklow states, “you won’t convince…show more content…
The newcomers, all bought their Western stereotypes of the East with them. Miss Brinklow was on the lookout for “symptoms of pagan degradation” but is relieved to find that the natives were completely clothed (Chapter 6, pp. 98-99). She looks down upon how easy life is in Shangri-la, thinking there's only spiritual virtue in self-denial and discomfort. Barnard was quick notices the material details in Shangri- La. He notices the plumbing fixtures were made in Ohio and that the lamas have imported a lot of expensive western luxuries. He discovers gold in the valley and sees the commercial potential of Shangri-la as a way to recoup his losses on the stock…show more content…
163), Mallinson is horrified by the coldness of Shangri-la, “a lot of wizened old men crouching here like spiders” (Chapter 11, p. 192). Mallinson believes that Conway has lost his mind and gone native. He tries to bring him around to Western values again, appealing to Conway to be the hero once more and reject Shangri-la as “filthy” with its abnormally long life (Chapter 11, p. 192). While the High Lama tries to impress on Conway the horrors of another war coming, Mallinson, who has not been through war, disputes this theory. If there is to be a war, they must bravely do their part to fight in it. The difference between stereotypes of East and West, as pronounced by Barnard, Miss Brinklow, and Mallinson, and the true differences in the two approaches to life are examined more in depth. The conversations between Conway and Chang, and Conway and Perrault make it very clear. Chang is an Easterner who can appreciate Western knowledge, and Perrault and Rocha

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