Beloved and "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac

The song that I thought of immediately when reading Beloved was “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac.

To me, the song has this eerie feeling due to the lyrics and the beginning guitar. The lyrics that were the most like Beloved in my opinion were:

“Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies ” (Line 2) This specific line was haunting to me in how much it connected with Beloved. The stories of all of Morrison’s characters running from their pasts and the different dynamics of what love means to each character seemed to relatable to this song. Specifically, Sethe and Beloved’s story and their ongoing struggles throughout the book; especially in the end, Sethe’s love is just simply not enough for Beloved.

“And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)”
(Chorus) Again, the reference of love is strong in this song and I think that it connects so well to Beloved. The lines “I can still hear you saying, You would never break the chain” remind me of the idea of breaking promises and breaking expectations. The ongoing question of why Sethe killed Beloved (until the ending) reminds me of this line. The reference to love and never breaking the chain (perhaps a promise?) in the chorus seems like an ode to Beloved (even though I know it’s not).

The last lines (Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)) repeat over and over emphasizing the connection that “the chain” creates. The “chain” in this could almost be the past? The past keeps us together and in order to stay together, you have to be aware of the past.

Here are the full lyrics:

Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise
Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies

And if, you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

Listen to the wind blow, down comes the night
Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies
Break the silence, damn the dark, damn the light

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)

Maria and Matthew: 2 Meursaults, One Movie

When I first read about Trust, a movie directed by Hal Hartley, and how it was supposed to be from the perspective of a “female Meursault”, I was expecting there to be only one character similar to Meursault. Instead, while watching, I found myself looking at 2.

In my opinion, I thought that both Marie and Matthew represented Meursault’s character. I think that the similarity in names to The Stranger in some sense, is to throw the watcher’s view off. Maria, is expected to be similar to Marie, and Matthew is expected to be like Meursault. However, because of their personality traits, I think that Marie’s lack of understanding for people and Matthew’s alienation from people around his community, cause them to both be similar to Meursault. Together, both of them face problems from all sides, whether its Matthew’s abusive father or Maria’s extra controlling mother.

Matthew and Maria’s “last hurrah” can be seen as the grenade going off at Matthew’s workplace. Similarly, Meursault’s last hurrah can be seen as him killing the Arab. Though, Maria didn’t end up getting punished for the grenade (because she wasn’t the one to ensue the problem) however I think she played a large roll in the events leading up to it.

Her lack of empathy towards Matthew can be seen when she tells him she no longer wants to marry him and wants to pursue what she wants individually; Matthew is heavily affected by this, most likely because it’s his last string of hope he had. Nevertheless, I think that while the two of them are not “fully” Meursault, they both have characteristics that are very much similar to him.

I also think that Hartley’s writing up of the characters were fantastic. In my class, I found that many people found the characters weird if not just boring; I think that the lack of emotion and the grittiness of the camera work added to this aesthetic that was very much Stranger-esque(?)…

Honestly, I missed a day of viewing so to say the least, I was pretty confused watching the ending. Other than that, I thought the movie itself was pretty interesting. What are your thoughts on Trust? Do you think that both of the main characters represented Meursault? Or only one?

Is Mersault a Sociopath? Maybe, but he’s a smart one.

Ever since we discussed the true meaning of life and what our values actually mean, I’ve been thinking about the idea of existentialists being a “threat” to society while also perhaps being the smartest (and maybe the dumbest?).

The reason why I think characters like Mersault, from The Stranger, is incredibly smart and self-unaware at the same time, is because of the fact that he disregards the feelings of others when making choices about how he acts. In some sense, he ignores what we think of as core values; with that, he also avoids the suffering and pain that comes with each of those values. Of course, he still is confined to certain parts of society; such as work, living expense, etc. however, he’s either hyper-aware or unaware (or at least works to be unaware) of other’s actions and feelings. Despite these things, Mersault is perhaps on the smarter end of society (according to existentialists) because he is aware of the illusions of our core values (or is he?). He therefore escapes all the pain and suffering that comes with these values. The idea of avoiding pain and suffering by detaching yourself form the societal norms is smart in some sense but also makes people around you think you’re a sociopath.

I think one of the main reasons we, as a society, find people like Mersault so repulsive, is because he does not abide by what we consider as societal norms (such as being empathetic or sympathetic towards different people and situations). He is what we define in society as a sociopath. If he ignores people’s emotions and puts no effort in being sympathetic and empathetic towards others, he is therefore following what existentialists believed living for yourself meant. Be truthful to others no matter what? Fulfill human potential by living for yourself and only yourself? A.k.a, radical subjectivity. However, because these are the core values of radical subjectivity and existentialism, does that mean all existentialists and those that live by the idea of radical subjectivity are sociopaths?

Honestly I think I’m going off on a tangent at this point. Let me move on. Mersault is seen as a threat in society to not only the other characters in the book, but also to us, the readers. He lacks so much in human empathy and sympathy that we view him as unable to have these thoughts and therefore a sociopath– which we often view as a threat. Because we view sociopaths as a threat to society, it often leads us to punishing them. This is seen in The Stranger when Mersault is punished and faces consequences for killing the Arab. He showed no remorse in court when he was being tried for the murder which is exactly what the prosecutor used to his advantage when he was speaking to the jury (83-102). Because we view sociopaths as a threat to society, is it just to punish them? I think it depends on what they do and how they act on their lack of empathy and sympathy. In Mersault’s case, I think yes, he is deserving of punishment but the idea of shaming sociopaths BECAUSE they are sociopaths does not make sense to me. Again, I’m going off on a tangent but I’m thinking of some comments people made in my class today.

The idea that Mersault has a mental issue, is often brought up in my class really intrigues me. Do we shame those that have a hard time showing emotions in society? Why do we do that? I’m ending here because I think if I write anymore, I’m just going to get more confused with myself and my tangled ideas.

Toxic Masculinity and Patriarchy in Barn Burning (W. Faulkner)

a barn (burning)

As we were discussing “Barn Burning” and pointing out certain paragraphs and parts, I found myself rereading in class and thinking about points I had not previously thought of. This semester, I’m taking a class called Women in History; we’re currently discussing how the traditional values held of masculinity and femininity are harming to the development of girls and boys. Throughout “Barn Burning”, the reader is exposed to multiple instances of toxic masculinity and what we call, the cycle of fear and control. In Faulkner’s short story, the different aspects of masculinity are more prevalent than femininity, perhaps because the story is male-centered and male-identified.

Particularly, in several scenes where Sarty is conflicted between his morals and what his father describes as “blood” and “being a man” (110), his second-guessing is taken advantage of by Abner. Because Abner is desperately hungry for power, something he can not obtain in the social world because of his socioeconomic status, he takes what he can get and overpowers Sarty’s mind. That being said, because Sarty admires Abner as the dominant male figure in his life, he allows the overtaking to happen, until of course, the end of the story. Abner fears other men having power over him, and when he can’t control that, he looks for other ways to have power, that being his own family. This weaves into part of the reason why Abner has such a large disrespect to men of higher status than him; he views higher status men as a threat and, thus, does his best to show that their power and status in social situations, does not affect him and his manhood.

The idea of toxic masculinity is particularly strong when Sarty’s father tells him to “be a man” (110) and describes the idea that family ties are stronger than anything else. The fear of not living up to societal expectations of manhood and masculinity are one of the most terrifying things for Sarty which is why he often finds himself conflicted with his true feelings and how Abner views him. At least at the beginning of the story, to respect himself, he needs to gain the respect of his father, therefore not snitching on his father when he’s asked to testify and giving him the answer his father is expecting when asked if he was going to snitch in the first place.

The oppression of women in “Barn Burning” is not as obvious as the toxic masculinity woven throughout the story. However, it is still very much there. Readers must be aware of the timing when Faulkner wrote this story and what was considered the normal way to treat women back then. Women are seen as background characters and many don’t even get a name (until his mother at the very end). The very male-centeredness of the story ignores women and perpetuates the subject/object dichotomy ideal. Abner’s treatment of women further digs into this idea that women are objects for the use of men gaining power over other men. Abner uses women to show power to his employers and that he has control over his family. This is most likely the reason why he views family and blood to such a high standard.

That being said, “Barn Burning” has had my mind churning since we discussed it in class. The many layers that this story contains takes a lot more than just un-peeling this single layer. Overall, I thought that the story was a lot more than what it seemed on the surface. It displayed this racist, southern view, that we’re not exposed to almost ever, unless in history textbooks and lessons. However, that’s a whole other world to dive into later.