Exposing Societal Issues in the Film “Tootsie”

The 1982 film “Tootsie” directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange, is a comedy that touches on many different societal issues such as gender roles and stereotypes, workplace harassment, empathy and compassion, and the pursuit of fame and success. The movie follows a struggling actor named Michael Dorsey, who disguises himself as a woman named Dorothy Michaels to get a job on a soap opera. During this excursion, Michael is faced with the sad reality of how women are treated in American society, but more specifically the entertainment industry.

First off, “Tootsie” challenges traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Michael’s experience as a woman exposes him to the discrimination and sexism that women face in society, including being judged by their appearance and not their talents. The film also demonstrates how gender roles are enforced and how they limit individuals’ opportunities and potential. Another societal issue addressed in this film is workplace harassment. The prevalence of sexual harassment and how it is often dismissed or ignored is portrayed many times throughout the film. The character of Julie, played by Teri Garr, faces harassment from her boss and the issue is only resolved when Michael/Dorothy speaks up. 

“Tootsie” also highlights the importance of empathy and compassion. Through Michael’s experience as Dorothy, he learns to understand the struggles and challenges that women face in society. This helps him become a better person and gain a better understanding of how privileged he is as a white man. He uses the soap opera as a way to make statements regarding the issues previously mentioned and ends up becoming a major influence as Dorothy. He uses his power to make the world a better place, although people are not exactly happy when they discover that he is actually a man. The film also critiques the entertainment industry and the pursuit of fame and success. Michael’s desperation to land a job drives him to deceive others and himself, leading to complications and consequences that could have been avoided if the industry was a little more forgiving and considerate. 

Overall, “Tootsie” offers a humorous and thought-provoking commentary on various societal issues, encouraging the audience to reflect on their values and beliefs. 

Capitalization Importance

In “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” written by Olga Tokarczuk writes the story through the point of view of Janina. Janina is a very big activist and cares a lot about animals and nature. As Janina tells the story she capitalizes many words that do not need to be capitalized. For example; Night, Dog, Deer, Death, Punishment, Soul, and many more words. A discussion question we had in class was “Why do you think capitaliztion is used in this manner”. I think that it is used for many reasons. The first reason to put emphasis on these words because they are important to the story and in a way reveal what is going to happen. We find out that at the end of the book Janina killed all of those people because they were harming animals. The words that were capitalized were the names of the animals, emotions she felt, and what she is going to do. This words symbolized what was going to happen in a way. I also feel that for some of the words, not for all of the but a few that it emphasizes her values and what is important o her. Every name of an animal is capitalized and animals are something that are important and mean a lot to her.

Your Canvas is Empty? Paint With Pain, Lovely Artist, Paint Your Pain.

There is something to be said about those who demand respect but do not give it. Respect isn’t necessarily a transactional term, but in this specific scenario, it should be. Janina explicitly states that she does not want to be called Janina; it’s not clear what she wants to be called, just that Janina is not a good fit for her. She believes that names should be like epithets, an expression or representation of the person that they are designated to. However, she does not respect the personal agency of other people, assigning them “names” based on their most apparent characteristics. While this example is not apparently egregious, a closer look exposes Janina for who she really is, or rather, what she identifies as. Janina believes she is an Ubermensch, a person with extraordinary abilities and the authority to use them at their own discretion. The Ubermensch is not confined by laws, morality, or any karmic system, for they are above any external repercussions. The Ubermensch is decisive in mind, actions, and resolve; however, they are their greatest enemy. Punishment is not inflicted via an external source; the Ubermensch punishes themselves.

A great example is Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, a character similar to Janina. Raskolnikov is an impoverished university student from St.Petersburg who believes himself to be, similarly to Janina, an Ubermensch. However, they neither explicitly say they are Ubermenschs; their actions speak otherwise. The Ubermensch should be known as a title or label for a phenomenon or repeated pattern in history; it is not the actual condition but a label for it. Janina doesn’t feel remorse for killing the hunters; she is relatively unfazed, only showing great emotion when confronted with her crime. Either due to thematic or intentional choices, Janina spends very little time thinking about the killers of her dogs. While it can be assumed she thinks about them a great deal, she has demonstrated the capacity to express normal emotions and behaviors when she murders those men. P.258 “I didn’t stop to think about it. I was sure I had killed him, and it seemed quite all right. I had no pangs of conscience. I only felt great relief.” P.261 “Once again, I felt nothing but relief.” Then, with the foxes, “I wish I could forget what I saw there. Weeping, I tried to open the cages and chase out the foxes.” She feels more emotions for the animals than she does for the men. This invites the reader to think about why? P.245 “But I don’t want us to reject them, as you put it. It’s just that I refuse to let anyone encourage children to do evil things or teach them hypocrisy. Glorifying killing is evil. It’s as simple as that.” This inconsistency brings to mind the concept of the Ubermensch. This idea of the Ubermensch is defined loosely in Crime and Punishment by the main character Raskolnikov. He says that an ordinary man has to live in submission and has no right to transgress the law because he is ordinary. On the contrary, extraordinary men have the right to commit any crime and transgress the law. They are extraordinary because they are men with the gift or talent to utter a New Word. Janina, in a way, punishes herself via her illness (which I believe is a cause of repressed emotions having a physical manifestation) as opposed to any punishment via usual avenues such as the police. She expresses her ability to transgress the law without repercussions by doing so. She also shows her free and complete agency over herself, even if that control is used to punish herself.

To Janina, moral and ethical hypocrisy matters are nothing in the face of a purpose. She lends herself to her ideas, divorcing herself from any accountability and guilt (supposedly). This is where Janina becomes more than just a person, but something resembling a thought experiment. Throughout the book, we, the reader, are exposed to many elements likely foreign to us, such as living entirely alone in the woods, complex astrology, and many different types of soliloquy and poetry. In the beginning, all of these concepts are foreign and divergent from what we are used to, and we look at them with wary, skeptical eyes. But as we live with Janina and follow her throughout 200+ pages, we begin to warm up to these ideas, not necessarily accepting them but just coming to understand them more. However, the end of the book and its subsequent reveal change the framing of this socialization.

Janina does not want to be called Janina; she explicitly states so. However, you will notice that nearly everyone who has finished the books calls her Janina. Whenever I wrote or talked about Drive Your Plow before the reveal, I referred to her as narrator. I respected her wishes as someone I was living with, sharing the same headspace, and learning about. I refer to her as Janina now because of what she has done and what she represents. No matter the ideological purity, righteousness, or moral piety, murder in such a way is not tolerable. There is something to be said about how the only alternative, the bureaucracy/police/law, was heavily biased against Janina. How this avenue for change had been tried and tested with no results, and how, if real change were to be made, it would take decades. Violence in pursuit of an otherwise unobtainable goal is a grey area and something one should not resort to. What is good and wrong is not defined by you but by others around you. Every action incurs a reaction, and humans respond to that act accordingly. We are pack animals by nature; we have a base instinct to be liked and to have more people in our “circle.” The reason for this is that in pre-historic times larger groups of humans were the ones to survive, and the same is true today. You alter your behavior constantly based on what others around you like or dislike; good and evil are not absolute truths. The moral grey encompasses much of our lives and is something we deal with all of the time; however, to each his one, everyone has a different perspective and views. Humans can be loosely defined as an intricately woven web of past experiences, cerebral processes, and imagination. As humans, we can never truly relate to one another, but we must try to sympathize with the plights of others. This is what Tokarczuk invites us to do. She invites us to think, weigh the options, and to consider the following:

  • Is violence for a cause justifiable?
  • Is violence justifiable at all?
  • What do you do when all options have been exhausted?
  • Are divergent ideologies acceptable?
  • How does one deal with repressed emotions?
  • How should one cope with their own biases?
  • Is a tortured artist a better artist?
  • Etc, etc.

But, the most important question presented by Tokarczuck to the reader is Janina. When viewed through the final few chapters, Janina is more of a concept than a person. She invites the reader to question the very fabric of people and whether their past experiences justify their actions. She makes the reader critical of the people she wrote about and the concepts they represent.

Motif of Animals

“Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk is a complex novel with many themes and motifs, including the motif of animals. The protagonist, Janina Duszejko, is a retired engineer who lives in a remote village in Poland, where she becomes obsessed with the deaths of several hunters. Throughout the novel, animals play an important role as they are seen as both victims and symbols.

One of the central motifs of the novel is the relationship between humans and animals. Janina is a vegetarian who loves animals and believes that they have souls and deserve respect. She is also deeply critical of hunting and the mistreatment of animals. Her views are contrasted with those of the hunters in the novel, who see animals as nothing more than targets and trophies.

The animals in the novel are also symbolic. Janina sees them as messengers, and they often appear to her in dreams and visions. For example, the deer that appears in her dreams represents freedom and escape from the constraints of human society. Similarly, the hare that she finds dead in her yard represents vulnerability and the cycle of life and death.

Through the lens of the animal world, the novel questions the value systems of human society and explores the consequences of our actions on the natural world.

Why is it that Janina keeps sending letters to the police, despite their uncooperative past?

Despite the police’s uncooperative past, Janina continues to send letters to them because she feels a strong sense of moral responsibility to speak out against what she perceives as injustice. She is determined to do everything in her power to protect the animals and the environment, and she sees reporting these incidents to the police as her duty.

Additionally, Janina is a character who is driven by her values, and she is not easily discouraged by the oppositions. She sees her actions as necessary, regardless of whether or not others agree with her. She continues to send letters to the police, even when she knows that they are unlikely to take action. Janina’s persistent letter-writing is a reflection of her strong moral convictions and her determination to fight for what she believes in, despite the obstacles in her path.

Animal Rights in “Drive your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead”

In Olga Tokarczuk’s novel, Drive your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, the main character Janina has a special connection with animals that she doesn’t have with people. Throughout the book, the names of animals are capitalized, such as Fox, Deer, Dog, etc. Although they are improper nouns. Also, Janina isn’t able to form connections with people the way that she is able to connect with animals and care for them. She dislikes most humans, but goes as far as murder when it comes to animals. This is very unique because most people don’t even think about things like veganism or using cruelty free products in their day to day lives, but Janina is extreme when it comes to animals. My question is, is Janina truly crazy or do our societal norms dramatize her actions regarding her care of animals? Since animals are seen as less than in our society, many would view Janina’s murders as unjust because humans and animals aren’t equal, so a human shouldn’t be killed for an animal. But looking from Janina’s perspective, she sees animals as equal to or better than humans, so killing people for an animal would make sense for her. It is just like someone feeling okay defending a friend or family member who got murdered, by murdering their killer.

The Deadly Pebble

The final story that Janina writes do Dizzy is incredibly important and frames many parts of the book previous to it. This short fable may seem insignificant but it is, in fact, the opposite. The story tells a tale about believing something to be true so strongly that it becomes the truth. This is what Janina does with many things in her life. For one Janina believes she knows the date of her death, similar to the monk. To Jjnaina it is a comforting thought, she knows when to be scared of death and when to live her life without the fear of dying. It is possible that with this story she is telling Dizzy, as well as the reader, that she hasn’t necessarily found her death date but instead decided on it. It also frames Janina’s actions, particularly the murderous ones. Janina had believed so heavily that she was being used by the animals as a tool for justice and because of that, she was able to murder without remorse. The monk in the story did not have to die, similar to how the commandant, Innerd, the president, and the priest did not have to die, but he believed so heavily that it was necessary so he made it happen. This train of thought is parallel to how Janina views her murders. To her they were necessary, written in the stars, and by default, she had to carry them out. 

“A medieval monk and Astrologer – in the days before Saint Augustine forbade the reading of the future from the stars-foresaw his own death in his Horoscope. He was to die from the bow of a stone that would fall on his head. From then on he always wore a metal cao beneath his monk’s hood. Until one Good Friday, he took it off along with the hood, more for great of drawing attention to himself in church than for love of God. Just then a tiny pebble fell on his bare head, giving him a superficial scratch. But the monk was sure the prediction had come true, so he put all his affairs in order, and a month later he died”(274A medieval monk and Astrologer – in the days before Saint Augustine forbade the reading of the future from the stars-foresaw his own death in his Horoscope. He was to die from the bow of a stone that would fall on his head. From then on he always wore a metal cao beneath his monk’s hood. Until one Good Friday, he took it off along with the hood, more for great of drawing attention to himself in church than for love of God. Just then a tiny pebble fell on his bare head, giving him a superficial scratch. But the monk was sure the prediction had come true, so he put all his affairs in order, and a month later he died”(274)

DYPOBD and The Dilemma

In Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead the theme of revenge is explored with Janina; the protagonist of the book, enacting revenge by murdering people in her community who have poached or hunted animals for sport. There is issue with this form of vengeance as there is a moral dilemma between the killings of animals vs. people. Janina believes that every life is important while she ignores an established hierarchy within the animal kingdom. She understands that there is a destructive power to nature itself but doesn’t fully actualize or realize how brutal nature is with the absence of humans. This is not to say that people should go around killing any animal for fun as I don’t believe that’s right.

There is census data that shows us that populations of specific animals need to be preserved but also controlled in numbers. The issue I take is that we as a society have not discussed these moral issues and topics which result in an inner conflict and moral dilemma when reading the book. On one hand, Janina’s dogs were killed by Big Foot, the Commandant, Innerd, the President, and Father Rustle, and seeing as they are domestic animals and assuming that she has had an established relationship with these animals, does it justify their deaths? Is Ecofeminism not rooted in the preservation of all life?

As I Eat My Burger

“What sort of a world is this, where killing and pain are the norm?”

Perhaps one of the most compelling aspects of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is that it haunts you. After you close the book and move on with your day, you still find yourself coming back to the questions this book raises. Sure it’s a murder mystery, but deep down it’s much more of a moral argument. It dives into the themes of animals and the environment and humanity’s relationship with both. What distinguishes us from animals? Are animals subject to human laws or are we all subject to the laws of nature? 

Janina consistently refers to the animals around her as “beings” and argues that they should be treated with the same level of respect as humans. She has a special connection and even cries when she finds a dead deer in the forest. To the world Janina is a madwoman, a crazy old lady who is nothing more than a nuisance. No one takes her seriously. The hunters refer to their right to hunt as God put them above animals and that they are therefore protecting the natural order. But Janina sees the hierarchy of humans and animals in our world as a troubling indicator of the world we live in. Watching a pregnant woman in the village, Janina thinks ”How could one possibly know all this and not miscarry?”

The novel asks us why do humans think we are superior and that everything exists for our use and enjoyment? Why do we feel that it is our divine right as man to exploit what we want? Why do we kill thousands of pigs and cows yet pet the cat in our lap? These are the questions that drive Janina’s anger in her PETA-like rage.

Perhaps the animals in this story are a metaphor for marginalized groups and how they are oppressed by those in power. Perhaps the novel is a criticism of the Catholic Church that feeds into the divine rights of man over animals. If a society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, we have a lot of work to do. But the questions this book raises makes you as the reader think about your own relationship with animals and nature–and keeps you thinking about it. 

The White Foxes

In Olga Tokarczuk’s novel, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, part way through the story white foxes start showing up. The towns folk realize the must have these foxes have escaped from the pelt farm that the Innerd a rich townsfolk owns. The first mention is on page 124 when someone says,

“Have you heard about the foxes that have been seen out on the Plateau near where you live? Fluffy, white foxes”

Janina the main character and narrators freezes at this seemly normal remark. At the time the reader has no idea why she reacts this way but after finishing the novel the reader realizes why. At the ends when she shares, she killed the Innerd along with multiple other townsfolk. She describes how she opened the foxes cage but couldn’t get them to leave. The reader realizes she freezes because that means the foxes escaped and she accomplished the mission of letting the foxes free.

In the story the foxes represent purity and freedom. They are this majestic clean creature and them being free shows the Janina what she does it right. She wants these creatures to be free as she views them highly but the ones trapping, she feels nothing for, and they can die as they often do when she kills them. The characters that wind up dead are often negatively described through the book often as inhuman and evil. The foxes are always these pretty pure creatures in comparison. The Innered however is this being that is first described hardly sounds human. She wants these foxes to escape her country that she thinks is not right with the way it treats its animals and escape to the Czech Republic which she thinks is this beautiful perfect place. She thinks these deserve a utopia and not the problem ridden Poland she lives in.

Why Janina’s Revenge Failed

At the end of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, we learn that the narrator and protagonist, Janina, are responsible for all the murders that occurred throughout the book. Her reasoning for it was that she learned these men were avid hunters and had killed her dogs. She then believes that she has been chosen by the animals as the instrument of their revenge, and acting as their tool, she kills four of the hunters.

This decision to kill the hunters for the animals led Janina to tell others that the animals killed the victims. She initially has very little success with this, telling the police her theories and being brushed off as a “crazy madwoman”. However, as time goes on, others begin to agree with Janina. Both the Dentist and the man with a poodle are initially open to the possibility and later express their shared belief that the animals killed the hunters. I think Janina tells people the animals are taking revenge are twofold: Firstly, I think she genuinely believes she was chosen by the animals, and secondly, she hopes that it will open people’s eyes to the intelligence of animals and stop people from killing them.

However, by being the one to kill the hunters, Janina’s message is built on a lie. This lie is not only told to other characters but to the readers as well. She omits the killings from the story, as well as how she got Innerd’s horoscope info. Interestingly, Janina frequently shares horoscope information about other characters with the reader, but does not tell the reader about her horoscope, further obscuring her true self (I believe this is true, it’s possible I missed a bit where she does talk about her own horoscope).

Because Janina is eventually found to be the killer, her message about the animals taking revenge is lost. Any chance of more people believing is lost, unless the other townsfolk believe that the animals actually did choose her. It does seem that some people do believe Janina is in the right, (Oddball, Dizzy, Good News, the book shop owner, Boros), but these were people who already shared many of Janina’s views. Janina ultimately accomplished very little by killing the four hunters, and I doubt hunting in the town will stop. I believe that because of this, her revenge has failed.

Janina is really a mad women

Throughout the novel Janina is often referred to as crazy, madwomen, or a crank by the police and while that is ageist and sexist we have to look at it from the POV of the police. Say if you lived in a small town and it was the end of your shift and a lady came in to convince you that animals were the reason people were dying. You would probably also call her a madwoman because that is a very crazed thing to say. Janina also had the reputation of being a little crazy so they expected nothing less. For example, when she finds dead animals she takes them home and buries them, she thinks the deer chose her to get revenge on the hunters, and she believes that astrology will tell us everything about the future. If you look at her like this it is pretty obvious that she is crazy.

But, there is another perspective you can look at Janina through and that is her enormous care for animals. She believes that animals hold the same amount of worth as humans and will even kill hunters to show that to authorities. While that may seem very brave of her it is illegal and will put her in prison. In chapter 15, the priest talks about how people who don’t follow hunting laws are cruel. That is reasonable since those laws are in there to protect species and their environment. On the contrary, if people aren’t able to hunt, populations such as deer will become so large that they may actually start killing humans. Janina can’t seem to understand that and starts to become “Tool” for the animals.

Though she is a little crazy, Janina is feeling grief and anger after learning what happened to her dogs and that is okay. But what’s not okay is killing people, sending letters to police saying it was the animals killing the people, using astrology as justification, and running from the cops. I feel like there is a better way to deal with the grief of her dogs.

“mad woman” and Janina

Taylor Swift and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. An unlikely combo? Possibly. However, the song “mad woman” from Swift’s album folklore is a song that parallels Janina’s character and struggles closely.

The song begins with Swift singing, “What did you think I’d say to that?/Does a scorpion sting when fighting back?/They strike to kill and you know I will”

It’s society’s expectation that women should internalize their anger, and their frustration over injustices. However, the narrator in Swift’s song is willing to fight back, and is attempting to overturn the power structure. Similarly, Janina also fights back against the power structure imposed against her as an older woman, and against the injustices against animals. She literally “strikes to kill,” murdering those who, according to her, wrongly killed animals. Additionally, when seeing a group of hunters shooting at pheasants, Janina takes a stand, boldly declaring that they’ve “‘no right to be shooting at living creatures’” (63). The hunters state that they’re doing nothing wrong, to which Janina begins to physically attack them. Janina defies societal expectations. If she sees something that is against her morals, she will fight against it, no matter the consequences. She wants change, and even if it means that she becomes a murderer.

Swift then goes on to sing, “Every time you call me crazy/I get more crazy/What about that?/And when you say I seem angry/I get more angry”

Similarly to this song, anger is a prominent motif within Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. After witnessing an unfair, unjust, cruel world, Janina is filled with “divine anger.” This anger, Janina believes, “puts things in order and shows you the world in a nutshell; Anger restores the gift of Clarity of Vision, which it’s hard to attain in any other state” (31). So, anger is not a bad thing. It’s what fuels Janina’s responses, and allows her to attempt to obtain justice. Janina is also called “crazy” numerous times within the novel, including by the hunters discussed above. Much like Swift’s narrator, being called “crazy” makes Janina appear even more crazy to the world (e.g. repeatedly writing to the police department demanding that they investigate her belief that the animals were the killers, and attacking the hunters after they refused to stop shooting pheasants). 

In a later verse, Swift laments, “And women like hunting witches, too/Doing your dirtiest work for you”

When taken in the context of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead the “you” in these lines could mean the deer. The deer are who Janina says “chose” her to “act in their Name,” and told her to become a murderer (255). So, Janina was doing the dirty work of the deer. She is also in a way hunting “witches,” or the men who have wrongly killed animals.

In the final lines of the song, Swift sings, “But no one likes a mad woman/What a shame she went mad/You made her like that”

I believe that these lines are what sums up the theme of “mad woman”–how women are often declared crazy, irrational, or rude if they are mad, or become mad. However, what makes women angry is often the result of men, who are the same people calling women crazy if they react in this way. There is also a double meaning to the word “mad” within this song–mad as in crazy, and mad as in angry. The two meanings of mad also apply to Janina. Her anger causes her to seem crazy. Additionally, Janina reacts in the way that she does because of the actions of the men that she kills. If they hadn’t gone around killing animals for sport, Janina wouldn’t have killed them. Of course, Janina’s actions, in my opinion, are a gross overreaction, but we also have different morals, and ideas about animals and humans.

When the Narrator is Crazy

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is told strictly from the perspective of the main character, Janina. Throughout the book she provides her theories on how the commandant, the president, Innerd, and the priest were murdered, telling the authorities it was the deer seeking revenge for being hunted. It isn’t until the end of the story that she reveals it was actually her. This unreliable narration not only creates a huge plot twist at the end but highlights how Janina believed she was acting in place of the deer. After admitting her guilt Janina states that she was a tool for the deer to get their justice. Her insistence that the animals committed the crimes shows that she believes the deer wanted her to do it and used her as an extension of themselves. Tokarczuk uses Janina’s perspective to develop a delusional character who feels very connected to nature and the animals around her. By slowly building these aspects of Janina throughout the book, Tokarczuk allows the reader to experience what Janina feels and sympathize with her which makes the end of the book much more impactful.

Deciphering the Truth

The novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is narrated by a middle age Polish woman, Janina, who lives near the Czech-Polish border. She believes she has the answers to all the dead bodies in her village: animals. Janina repeatedly states that the animals are taking revenge on humans for abusing, hunting and killing them. She strongly advocates for animal rights and believes them to be equal or better than humans.

Throughout the novel, Janina goes on tangents, sometimes pages long. This leads readers and people within her village to question the woman’s state of mind, but often times dismiss her as a “silly old bag” or “madwoman,” in other words not someone to take seriously. However, by the end of the book we realize that the second label may be more accurate.

As readers become more immersed in Drive Your Plow, it often becomes difficult to determine fiction from reality, which makes it a worthy mystery. Janina seems to progressively go off the rails to the point that it seems she’s lost complete awareness of everyone and everything around her. She’s so focused on “solving” and convincing the authorities of the actions of the animals, that she’s strayed from her true intentions. Despite, nobody believing her to be credible or accepting her ideas, she stands strong.

Outside voices and questions and Janina’s total separation from society forces readers to doubt their own theories and her sanity.

The Shared Alienation of Meursault and Janina

The novels “The Stranger” by Albert Camus and “Drive Your Plow” by Olga Tokarczuk both feature unique and complex protagonists who are estranged from society. Meursault, the main character of “The Stranger,” is a detached and apathetic Algerian who kills an Arab man for seemingly no reason. Meanwhile, Janina Duszejko, the protagonist of “Drive Your Plow,” is an eccentric elderly woman living in a village on the Czech-Polish border who is convinced that animals are seeking revenge on humans for their mistreatment. Despite their different backgrounds and circumstances, both characters share a sense of detachment from society and a rejection of its norms. Meursault and Janina both struggle to fit in with their respective communities due to their unconventional beliefs and behaviors. Meursault’s indifference his mother’s death, his lack of remorse for killing the Arab man, and his refusal to conform to social expectations all contribute to his outsider status. Similarly, Janina’s quirks and spirituality, such as her belief in astrology and refusal to eat meat, isolate her from her neighbors and make her an object of ridicule. Both characters are viewed as strange and abnormal by those around them, and their refusal to conform to societal norms ultimately leads to their alienation.

Despite their differences, Meursault and Janina share a deep sense of isolation and detachment from the world around them. Meursault’s detachment is evident in his narration, which is devoid of emotion and focused solely on the physical sensations of his surroundings. He seems to exist in a state of numbness, unable to fully engage with the world or connect with other people. Janina, on the other hand, is deeply connected to nature and the animals around her, but she struggles to connect with her human neighbors, relying on the stars and zodiac signs to begin to understand them. She feels that human behavior and society only serve to invade and corrupt the authentic and balanced natural world. Similarly, she views the murder of animals as equal to the murder of humans, unable to comprehend the important societal differentiation between the two causing their differences in acceptance. This belief further contributes to her sense of isolation. Overall, these narrators’ disconnections allow them to view society from a god-like perspective, looking down upon and criticizing it without issue.

Additionally, both Meursault and Janina’s alienation leads to their downfall. Where Meursault’s refusal to conform to societal norms and his lack of remorse for his crime are prime reasons for his conviction and execution, Janina’s eccentricities and isolation both encourage her murders and make her a prime suspect for them, resulting in her arrest and imprisonment. Ultimately, both characters are punished for their refusal to fit in with society and for their rejection of its norms.

In conclusion, Meursault and Janina are both complex and intriguing protagonists who share a sense of detachment and alienation from society. While their backgrounds and circumstances are vastly different, their refusal to conform to societal norms ultimately leads to their downfall.