The Dangers of a Single Story paired with Orientalism 

One of the most powerful TED talks that I have ever listened to debuted in 2009. The conversation Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie holds with this audience about what a single story can hold against many people throughout the world and the harm that it may possess is captivating. 

A single story is a concept which emphasizes the possibility of misunderstandings with another person or culture. Single stories spread throughout the world like a wildfire. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explained her experience with her American roommate when attending college she explained the difficulties of the single story her roommate held for Adichie being from Nigeria, “My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story, there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.” Single stories lead to misconceptions about culture, gender, and race. 

Orientalism is described, by Richard Said, as a critical concept to describe the West’s commonly contemptuous depiction and portrayal of “The East”. Societies and peoples of the Orient are those who inhabit the places of Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. The critical concepts many people perceive are damaging and hold stereotypes that are untrue. 

The single story articulates a similar narrative to Orientalism. Both contain a false conception about the cultures and lives of many people, which have lasting effects throughout the generations.

Edgar O’ Edgar

 Empathy perceived throughout the reading of King Lear to many different characters in many different scenes. However, the character who sparked the most empathy from me to become one of my favorite characters of the play would be Edgar. Edgar’s resilience spoke many languages to me throughout the novel while he was on stage and off stage. 

Edgar faced many challenges, however in my opinion the greatest challenge he had to overcome was dealing with the manipulation from his brother, who put him in a compromising position. Edmund forged his brother’s name into making Edgar the villain to his kingdom and his father. After Edgar was informed of what had been done to him, he went into the disguise of Poor Tom, where no one would notice him.  When Edgar had to learn the changes from being a Lord to a beggar, there were not only hard changes with losing the title, but Edgar learned how to live life without having much power to his name. Especially with these changes, Edgar grew to learn what it means to be resilient and how to continue on with his life, even though it might not be what he exactly wanted. 

The resilience that has sparked my interest in Edgar, really proved to be there when his father, Gloucester walked accidentally back into Edgar’s life. Edgar hid his true identity to protect his father from possible pain or sadness for his current situation and fully focused on Gloucester’s pain of being blinded. Gloucester even spoke of his son Edgar at times, and Edgar hid from spoiling who he truly was. The pain that Edgar went through was probably unbearable, and for that reason his resilience, to me, makes him my favorite character. 

The Poetic Understandment of Love

To fulfill or understand the notion of love may be impossible, however when written down the meanings are endless. To some, the song “Blue Eyed Girl” may just be another love song explaining the gratitude one has for his partner, but to the eye’s of poetry: a masterpiece is born within. Written by The Arcadian Wild and released on their first album, The Arcadian Wild, the song relays the importance of unconditional love and the impeccable impact love may have. In the album, “The Arcadian Wild”, love is written in traditional and non-traditional gestures, but mainly it lies in the perseverance of the eyes. The lasting connection that is drawn from one’s eyes helps explain what love means to one another, making this song a poetic masterpiece. 

As the song begins, immediate gratification is brought to the listener’s ears through the lyrics of the first verse. Lincoln Mick, lead songwriter, displays a type of love where one partner can really can the other for the better. In this case, the narrator was a lost person before meeting her, and he was waiting for the day they may be together. 

Well, I’d been writing songs about you

Before our paths ever crossed

And since I’ve been hanging around you

I’ve been feeling a little less lost

The narrator acknowledges the rhythm of her spirit created in him and only wants the world to see this side of her. The story of their love was that she saved him. She saved him from the grey world surrounding him, the dullness filling his life, and finding a will to continue on. He only wishes throughout this song, with revealing a signature feature of hers, that the world will interpret the beauty that lies within everyone. 

Let the colors of your soul spill out for everyone to see

In a world of black, and white, and gray

You paint something beautiful every day

Through words of love and admiration, a poetic masterpiece is being produced. The poetic language being used, one could argue, resembles the truthness to their love story. Each one is to further display what this love from the blue eyed girl has done to impact his life. Instead of stating the obvious and letting the lyrics sit dully, the uses of allusion, diction, and metaphors help enhance the narrator’s meaning and importance of this blue eyed girl.  

I’ll march right along to your beat

And the rhythm of your spirit makes me

Feel much more alive

There’s wisdom in the way you speak

And I see “I love you” in your eyes 

In the particular verse brought to attention above, these uses of poetic language are strongest. The way his love is described to the audience through the diction chosen is very much alive. Using bright words such as spirit, alive, or even I love you all speaks to the audience to feel how he is feeling for the blue eyed girl. The uses of diction create butterflies in one’s stomach that last long enough to envy the love that exists in these verses. The metaphor that is fluent in this quick stanza is the last line, which goes back to the title of the song, “Blue Eyed Girl”. The metaphor that exists in the idea of eyes is represented throughout the song, however in this exact line, the strongest and realest meaning is shown. What the narrator is trying to express for why eyes mean so much to him is answered with this simple line. Knowing the impact of how the blue eyed girl created a new way of life to the narrator has been formed through each stanza, there has been subtle allusion to how she has truly impacted him. Alluding to the wisdom that she speaks is mentioned in this line, it represents how she has worked through personal confections with him. This poetic masterpiece, a sonnet one may argue, relays the everlasting impact of love with only a tone of love.

The Love from Migration

The official definition of migration is movement from one part of something to another. Human migration is the permanent change of residence by an individual or group. Throughout Exit West, Hamid explores the idea of migration and how it takes effect on the different characters in the novel. Migration in today’s world is a challenge unlike any other, leaving the comfort of your home country to find serenity and safety. Nadia and Saeed’s first migration they experienced was leaving their home and their father to Mykonos. The difference between Hamid’s idea of migration and the real world’s migration is that Hamid introduces the idea of these black doors that take a person from point A to point B within seconds. 

The toll migrating on Nadia and Saeed is unreal, each making promises to one another to protect each other and themselves. With that being said, they created a bond, a platonic love for one another. Disguising this love as romantic, Nadia and Saeed had to deal with the heaviness of moving from one part of the world to another area. Nadia and Saeed moved from different areas and adjusted their ways of life each and every time, dropping some true part of their personality for the sake of the other. The ultimate migration came at the end of the novel, when Nadia and Saeed realized it was time for themselves to relocate to cooperate with their happiness. The love they had for one another allowed for them to separate, to know and acknowledge each other for the rest of time if it just so happens. 

The Fall of Meursault

Throughout the reading of The Stranger, the idea of absurdism has been scattered throughout the text. Reading part one of the book, Camus focuses on the main idea of Meursault and lets the reader get to understand him. Describing him as a detached man, absurdism is connected deep within the text. Focusing on the big details and events that occur in his life, Meursault just seems to be an odd one in the bunch. Meursault’s failure to mourn over his mother’s casket and instead noticing details such as, “the screws on the casket had been tightened and that there were four men wearing black in the room”(14), shows that he lacks true human emotion. 

Meursault, lacking true human emotions, ties into the ideology of absurdism. Absurdism is the belief that humans live in a purposeless, chaotic universe and Meursault follows along with that idea mainly in part two of The Stranger. Part two mainly focuses on the repercussions of Meursault killing an Arab man and how the world reacts to such an unusual man. Society is not the absurd part of the story, Meursault the character is the absurd part of society. Since Meursault shares no emotions, no meaning for his own life, and the only certainty that he has in his life is a guarantee for death. For instance, when he knew of the death penalty that was to come of him, instead of repenting or acknowledging emotion he only, “to wish that there be a large crows of spectators the day of my execution, and that they greet me with cries of hate”(123). At this point, Meursault could care less about what is to come for him and only wishes that his death is filled with people. 

The Constant Funeral Face

In part one of The Stranger, it becomes clear that the main character is not like the common main character. Camus’ Meursault differs from the stereotypical idea of a main character, lacking morals and emotions. Meursault disconnects from the world through his not pessimistic view of the world, but his “who cares” view. Putting together possible explanations as I was reading through the pages, I found a quote that, to me, was a correct way to view his personality. “Marie made fun of me because, she said, I had on a ‘funeral face’”(47). Some readers may look right over that comment, however it stood out in particular. 

Throughout the previous chapters and the following chapters where that line takes place, it can be easily inferred that Meursault doesn’t understand and lacks knowledge about his surroundings. He walks into every room with a straight face and just agrees with what others around him are saying. Meursault struggles to locate his own emotions towards events, people, and places. Meursault acts as if he has no meaning or explanation to the everyday activities that he involves himself in, he just does them without any justification. 

Immediately after starting the first chapter of part one, I could pick up that Meursault was not a character in books I have read about before. Following his mother’s death, he had no reaction whatsoever. The first thought and concern he had was whether his boss would be mad at him for leaving work. Whether he is just an unemotional person or leaning more towards lacking morals and social cues, it still didn’t sit well with me. 

From the ending of part one, Meursault killing the Arab was just the beginning for the world and his “friends” to understand his lack of meaning and morals.