Janina is no Better than the Rest of Them

A common theme in our society is the ostracization of people who are different. Whether we are inflicting or receiving, ostracization impacts each one of us. Janina, in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, plays both sides.

At the start of the novel, you cannot help but feel bad for Janina. After all, she is a seemingly helpless old woman who has more compassion than the rest of her peers. However, while she faces torment from her fellows, she lacks compassion for them. You’d think if she experienced ostracization she would not act similarly to others. However, she inflicts the same criticism on the people surrounding her that is imposed on herself.

Janina is an outcast in society. She treats animals as equals while the rest of her town is out hunting them for sport. With this in mind, every time she shows the animals an ounce of respect, the others around her retaliate. While she does not deserve the criticism she receives, she is not making her situation much better.

Up until one point, I empathized with Janina. You put yourself in her shoes and feel nothing but sorrow for how she is treated. However, one of her actions completely altered my perspective. On page 159, she writes the first of three letters to the police, none of which receive a response.

Within this first letter, she outwardly presents her beliefs: the deceased were murdered by animals. Based on her perspective, I understand her reasoning. Despite this, I also find it utterly insane that with no regard for her audience, she would send such a letter. Her community is known to disregard and diminish her thoughts, frequently calling her crazy. Janina knows this. Still, she deemed it acceptable to send such a letter to the police.

She seems so ready, so eager to impose her ideas on her community without understanding. These people have had the same foundational beliefs for assumably their whole lives. I think it is ridiculous for Janina to expect them to completely alter their beliefs based on her account. Instead, I think she should have more sympathy for them. It is hard to step outside of the familiar and into the unknown. In spite of that, she finds little empathy in her heart, and her superiority complex looms large.

King Lear’s Rendition of the Love Triangle

It is in almost every storyline; two characters fight for the same one, or even more shocking, something similar to Twelfth Night‘s version. However, while Twelfth Night would not be the same without its love triangle, I think King Lear could have gone without its adaptation.

In the majority of King Lear, I was surprised by what occurred. Every flip of the page included another aspect of the tragedy. However, as soon as Shakespeare presented the double love interest with Edmund, the end of the play was already written. I think Edmund’s monologue, where he was torn between the sisters and where he decided to stall his decision, made his storyline crumble. Every flip of the page was no longer surprising but expected.

The play had a lot going on. I mean, every single main character died except three. Even so, the love triangle added minimal effect to the tragedy. Even more, when Goneril poisoned Regan before killing herself, I felt like I read that before. It seems too similar to Romeo & Juliet. While that was between lovers, this was between sisters involving love. Goneril was obviously carrying out the phrase, “if I can’t have him, no one can.”

I feel like Shakespeare did not know what to do with Goneril and Regan, so he included the cliche that is a love triangle. In fact, the outcome between the sisters adds to the stereotype of boy-obsessed women. Like Goneril killed herself over a man. That is crazy! Their entire personas switched in this play from suck-up daughters to betraying daughters to just boy-obsessed girls. It was the downfall of their characters. Before, they were rebels, hard-core, and had personalities beyond men. Yet, when Shakespeare introduced this triangle, their aggressive characters became sisters who lost everything, for an illegitimate boy. I just find it absurd.

While I don’t mean to knock on Shakespeare’s writing, I kinda am. As far as I am concerned, Shakespeare should have left the love triangle in Twelfth Night.

A Dance with the Devil

“Its Called: Freefall,” a song by Rainbow Kitten Surprise, is apart of an album entitled: How to: Friend, Love, Freefall. While I thoroughly enjoy the rest of the album, along with numerous other songs by RKS, nothing quite compares to “Its Called: Freefall.” The speaker is at his rock bottom, facing mental health issues, presumably depression and from his encounters with the devil, possibly suicidal thoughts. The entire song is revolutionary and each line adds a greater depth to the meaning.

While I have gone back and forth about the meaning of this song, I settled on the speaker searching anywhere for comfort or acceptance in a sea of internal struggles. For starters, the song opens up with a greeting from the devil,

Called to the Devil and the Devil did come
I said to the Devil, “Devil, do you like drums?
Do you like cigarettes, dominoes, rum?”
He said, “Only sundown, Sundays, Christmas”

To me, any interaction with the devil insinuates a type of desperation. When people are known to make a “deal with the devil,” it is almost always because they feel they have no other choice. I find this to be true within “Its Called: Freefall.” Furthermore, within verse two, the speaker reveals the apparent root of the struggles. His friends are subpar, despite being a great friend to them. However, with his complaining comes the devil yelling at him. Within this fight, the devil uses a compelling metaphor,

Don’t get me ventin’ on friends who resent you
‘Cause all you’ve ever done is been a noose to hang on to

While this is not the reason for my possible suspicion of suicidal thoughts, these lyrics do help reinforce it. It is because the devil compares him to a noose that the severity of his situation is revealed. He is at his lowest and as the devil acknowledges his claims of bad friends, his reason for his feelings becomes apparent.

The pre-chorus and the chorus then solidify this idea of acceptance.

You could let it all go
You could let it all go
It’s called “freefall”
It’s called “freefall”

Originally, I was torn between the meaning of the chorus. However, the meaning I pondered was the choice of suicide. The devil is known to rule things of that nature and it would make sense for his to urge such an action. For this man to kill himself, the devil would gain another man in hell, ultimately supporting his goal. The devil tells the speaker he could get rid of his despair and “let it all go,” inevitably finding peace through suicide. Furthermore, by repeating these phrases numerous times, like a demonic chant, it adds to the convincing aura of the song. The entire song is a conversation between the devil and the speaker. Another line I think solidifies my interpretation follows,

Called to the Devil and the Devil said, “Quit
Can’t be bothered, better handle y’all shit

Keep about your wits, man, keep about your wits
Know yourself and who you came in with

This is the first place the devil dismisses the speaker. Originally, the devil kept pushing the chorus, trying to get the speaker to join him in hell. By repeating with “you could let it all go,” makes it the speaker’s only option. It is because the devil repeats this phrase almost every other verse that the desperation becomes apparent. For the speaker to go back to the devil, time after time, even though he gets the same answer consistently, shows just how lost he is. Finally follows one of the last verses in the song,

Called to the Devil and the Devil said, “Hey
Why you been callin’ this late?
It’s like 2 AM and the bars all close at 10 in Hell
That’s a rule I made

This verse, by far, is my favorite line in music history. Despite the fact that I can clearly imagine this conversation and the characters within it, it powerfully adds to the desperation of the speaker and the tone of the song. I think for a lot of people, desperation and dark feelings occur at night. And for the speaker to call on the devil at 2AM, almost like a friend, it shows how difficult of a headspace the speaker must be in. However, by the devil saying “that’s a rule I made,” I think the speaker is brought back to reality. I think he almost views the devil as a friend, presumably because his current friends taught him nothing but heartache, so the speaker is looking in all the wrong places. However, when the devil concretely displays his power, like his ability to create things, the speaker resurfaces and the song ends.

Overall, I think despite the devil’s numerous chants, the speaker does not want to kill himself. If he wanted to, he would have chosen that option the first time the devil offered it. However, I do not think the speaker has a better of a person to turn to, hence his multiple conversations with the devil. Yet, he did not give into the temptations of the devil and realizes his wrong turn at the end of the song.

In my opinion, this song is the definition of a poem. By each line having multiple interpretations and meanings, it follows the same structure of poems we have read in class. This song is my favorite and I think the depth it alludes to really cements its standing as my #1.

Why Saeed and Nadia Were Never Going to Work Out

At the beginning of Exit West, Nadia and Saeed were able to grow their relationship organically. They saw each other when desired and gave each other space when appropriate. However, when war tore apart their country they were forced to live together and then escape their home country together. While this living situation was manageable in the beginning, the lack of personal growth opportunities created an environment of mutual hatred.

This environment of mutual hatred between Nadia and Saeed is not just a problem among them, within the circumstances any “couple” would fall to the same demise. Being forced to live within the same quarters, without the space a blossoming couple needs, is detrimental. Nadia and Saeed were not afforded the ideal situation to grow. Nadia was thrown into the mix with the passing of Saeed’s mother and was almost “adopted” by Saeed’s father. This inadequate situation forced Nadia and Saeed to deal with circumstances a relationship of much longer length would have difficulties navigating. Their fresh relationship was not built for this complicated environment.

With this in mind, it only makes sense that both Nadia and Saeed would grow resentful of each other for the situation that was almost forced upon them. Such complexities only stunted their growth as individuals and a couple, proving the impossible nature of their relationship. In the end, it was bound that their romantic, and even platonic relationship, would fizzle out.

Why Meursault is Better than All of Us

In our society, all we do is think about the future. We are excited about upcoming events, nervous about conflicts/challenges, and we never stay in the present. Despite this reality, Meursault does the opposite. He does not think ahead and he does not worry about the future. Instead, Meursault lives in the moment and accepts his reality.

Due to his mindset, Meursault is able to enjoy the little things. He was able to enjoy a day at the beach with Marie, not thinking about anything other than her. At an even larger scale, Meursault was able to become content with prison. While the situation to anyone else would be horrible, Meursault finds the good in it and does not resent his situation.

To outsiders, Meursault is a sociopath. He is apathetic and has no drive for anything in his life. He is someone no one hopes to become. However, when his actions are closely analyzed and his mindset is understood, he is living life at its simplest and seems to have it all figured out.

He does not worry and is not filled with jealousy. Most importantly, he does not do anything he does not want to do. He lives without regrets. While everyone else is caught up in past problems and future dilemmas, Meursault is living life as intended. Above anyone else, he is a free man.

The Betrayal of Gender Roles in The Secret Woman

Throughout the story, gender roles are reversed. In this case, Irene is leading the way (literally and figuratively) while her husband cautiously follows behind. She is asserting herself into conversations, dancing with random men, kissing men besides her husband, and overall being independent. Normally, or at least in this assumed time period, men lead the way and women follow suit. Men are very independent while women are brought up to depend on men.

Furthermore, Irene is making fun of her husband, belittling him nonchalantly. Almost as if she is putting him in his place, just as he would to her. Silently, he observed her every behavior making silent comments and having opinions. However, he remained silent and hid his personality, just like a woman is expected.

In general, one would assume her husband would step in, intervene, and stop her from essentially cheating on him. However, instead, he stays quiet and walks away. In this case, they were at a masquerade ball, hidden by masks. Maybe this gave her the confidence to be independent and break away from her stereotypical role, or maybe it was an excuse to fill the role she has longed.

How Kyle’s Parents in Victory Lap Affected His Every Move

No. No, no, no. They'd be gone soon. There he could go inside. Call 911. Although then everyone would know he'd done nothing. All his future life would be bad. Forever he'd be the guy who'd done nothing (21).

While I think this thought would go through some people’s minds eventually, I think the timing of Kyle’s thought (listed above) says a lot about his family dynamic and mental state. His entire life, Kyle has had to live up to the expectations of his parents. With such a strict regime and their ability to take away all his privileges in a second, Kyle has frequently had to walk on egg shells. With this in mind, I think his brain is wired to always think about consequences. In particular, social consequences, like the disappointment of his parents or in this case, society.

The idea of disappointing others means a great deal to Kyle, as impressing his parents has been a difficult task leading up to this. While he was jeopardizing his safety in order to save Alison, the alternative seemed much worse to him. By not interfering, Kyle risked being a man known for his lack of action in a serious situation.

More than anything, I believe Kyle wants to be recognized. Recognized by his parents for his achievements in high school track and recognized by society as the sophomore boy who saved Alison Pope. With such little praise at home, Kyle is finding acceptance elsewhere.