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 In Dorothy B. Hughes’ novel,  In a Lonely Place, Hughes addresses the loneliness that both men and women feel in post-WWII American society in which both genders are isolated by the reversal of roles. Men feel alone and abandoned because their women have gone out of the kitchen and into the workforce while women are experiencing loneliness in their newfound freedom. In Ray’s film adaptation the same post-WWII loneliness is the driving force that ultimately breaks up an ill-fated romance. Ray uses staging and music scores to emphasize the loneliness and distance between lovers Dix Steele and Laurel Gray. Hughes uses protagonist Dix Steele’s lack of control over himself and the world/women around him, as well as his disillusion, to further his sense of isolation and loneliness. 
  Hughes’ novel embodies the cultural crisis that was sweeping across post-WWII America: soldiers (men) returning to a changed world that they no longer recognized and had no control over. The America they had loved and left was now out to get them, and it was taking the form of their women. In the novel, Dix certainly views women this way, noting that “they women were all alike, cheats, liars, whores,” “even the pious ones were only waiting for a chance to cheat and lie and whore.” Hughes, however, takes this view and places it in the mind of a violent, mentally ill criminal. This, in turn, makes the reader question whether Dix’s views and descriptions of the people and world around him are trustworthy. He has isolated himself in a delusional world filled with paranoia. 
In the post-WWII era when men came back and realized the world they knew and left behind had changed, they were angry. They were now on the outside looking in, isolated and alone. This is epitomized when Dix sees the new life that his old war friend, Brub, has made for himself. Brub is now a cop, has a home, and a wife, Sylvia, who is a manifestation of domesticity. After being faced with this new reality Dix feels a rage he cannot understand or control. To Dix, Brub has been “made different by being chained to a woman.” The rosy, male-dominated, glory war world he once lived in is gone and has been replaced by loneliness and paranoia. 
Although Ray’s film adaptation is vastly different from the novel, there is still a theme of loneliness throughout that can be felt in the relationship between Dix and Laurel. Staging plays a vital role in showcasing the distance and isolation between the two lovers. In one of the first scenes Dix opens his window to see Laurel up and across from him on her balcony. This suggests the actual and eventual distance between them. As well, the courtyard in which they meet is also symbolic of the emotional expanse that will estrange them from one another and ultimately end their relationship.
  Staging also emphasizes loneliness in the scene in which Dix is cutting grapefruit for Laurel. Laurel tells him the love scene that he’s written in the script is very good and he says “well that’s because… a good love scene should be about something else besides love – for instance, this one. Me, fixing grapefruit, you, sitting there dopey, half-asleep. Anyone looking at us could tell we were in love.” The potency of the scene’s staging comes from the gap between them; Dix is standing at the countertop and she is sitting by the refrigerator. Here Dix is in his own head, he thinks that they are playing house and proposes marriage, completely unaware of how his words are contradictory to her emotions. The staging in this scene shows how they can be physically together in the same room, but worlds apart when it comes to understanding each other and therefore isolated from one another. 
In this same scene, the music arrangement underscores the tension and division that is present between Dix and Laurel. While Dix is speaking the string section is going strong and provides a sort of upbeat, hopeful melody, with just a touch of uncertainty. However, when the camera cuts to Laurel and she is speaking, the brass section cuts in and sounds ominous and foreboding. The division is clear especially in the cut to the close-up shot of Laurels face when the music changes and then when it cuts right back to the strings when Dix begins to speak again. 
  Both Hughes and Ray explore and showcase the theme of loneliness in different ways in relation to the post-WWII era. Hughes expertly invades the minds of men and their emotional reactions to their loss of control of the world around them, while Ray illustrates how loneliness can divide lovers. In each case, both creative minds demonstrate the devastating effects of loneliness in post-WWII America.

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