Red, Blue, and Dark Gray

Love has many aspects that are nearly impossible to fully explain or even understand. Many artists of all varieties even attempt to capture the idea of love in many different mediums, however, singer and songwriter, Taylor Swift is best at capturing all aspects of love. Specifically in her song Red, from her 4th album, Red. Taylor swift writes this song to explain all the complex side effects of being in love. She begins each stanza with a comparison of an aspect of love to a color or specific familiar moment. She opens up her song by comparing love to a feeling many listeners know all too well. 

“Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street”

She immediately catches the listener’s attention by writing about a feeling most people have experienced before, driving. In many of Swift’s songs she alludes to the feeling of driving, however, in this opening sentence, she intentionally compares that feeling to love. 

In the Chorus of Red, she begins to repeatedly compare complex aspects of love to different colors. Her chorus is repeated three times over in the song. Taylor Swift is sharing her personal experience of love and being in love in this song. Red is released right after she breaks up with her boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal. Jake Gyllenhaal was about 9 years older than Taylor Swift which created many problems as Swift was 21 and Gyllenhaal was 30. Swift uses simile after simile to describe the feelings she felt while being in love with an older man. 

“Losing him was blue like I’d never known

Missing him was dark gray, all alone

Forgetting him was like tryin’ know somebody you never met

But loving him was red”

Lastly, the diction that Swift uses creates a poetic tone in order to address the complexity of love. For example, this complexity is represented through her frequent change in tone from stanza to stanza. The first stanza of her song makes listeners think fondly of love and long to be in love. However, as the song progresses, Swift describes the negative aspects of the love that left her feeling broken and sad. 

“Memorizing him was as easy as knowing all the words

To your old favorite song

Fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword

And realizing there’s no right answer”

The big shift in tone here is portrayed through Swift’s lyrics as well as the instruments used in the section of the song. 

Indifference in The Stranger and Exit West

In The Stranger, the main character, Meursault, has a lack of care for relationships in his life which leads him to unintentionally harming those around him. Meursault’s indifference towards life is similar to the way the main character in Exit West, Saeed, views life.

Although Saeed does care for his partner, Nadia, and his parents, he has little care for life itself. Saeed’s city is in the middle of a war and destruction is all around him, touching almost every area of his life. However, he has yet to realize the true horror of war until his mother passes away due to the fighting.

“In times of violence, there is always that first acquaintance or intimate of ours, who, when they are touched, makes what had seemed like a bad dream suddenly, evisceratingly real”(31).

The war in Saeed’s city became even more real after the death of his mother. However, his reaction to his mother’s death was shockingly small. Readers are left wondering what happened, wondering what Saeed’s reaction was and what his father’s reaction was. However, the author, Mohsin Hamid, did not give readers what they desired. Hamid strategically leaves the readers desiring a sense of closure to show what the war had done to Saeed and his emotions, or lack thereof.

This is similar to the way The Stranger portrays Meursault. From the beginning of the book, Meursault isn’t emotionally attached to anything or anyone. He, similarly, has little to no reaction when his mother dies.

Parenting Your Parents.

202 Checkmates was a refreshing addition to the short story lineup. While coming-of-age stories like 202 Checkmates are not new to us, we were able to carefully dissect the new, unique parts of this specific story.

While most coming of age stories feature authoritarian parents, 202 Checkmates has a new parent/child dynamic. Readers are able to see into the lives of parents living paycheck to paycheck while also trying to salvage a broken marriage all while parenting and raising a child. The father uses chess as an escape yet also as a way to be with his daughter and teach her about life. Throughout her childhood years, she hears her parents fighting loudly through the walls and she watches her father lose his job and never find a new one. Chess was there when she became a woman and it taught her how to handle her unsettling home life. However, towards the end of story, specifically during match 202, the tables turn and the daughter becomes the teacher. The daughter was finally good enough to put up a good fight against her father, yet she chooses to refrain. She saw the obvious move to make that would bring her first victory against her father, yet she chose to let her father win. She was able to see the effects winning had on her father and she wanted him to remain happy and willing to continue playing chess with her.

Ultimately, the daughter was observant and learned that the sweetest victory is found in others’ joy. The daughter taught her father.

Domination and Power

In, ” The Bonds of Love”, the author, Jessica Benjamin, proposes a theory that investigates the reason why Americans are desperate for power. The idea that powerless people have the strongest desire for power isn’t completely off, yet that argument is underdeveloped. Benjamin believes that the desire for domination and power begins with the submission and relentless following of an all-powerful figure. Usually, the submitter sees that all-powerful person as a goal to one day get to themselves. This power dynamic is becoming increasingly common in today’s world. However, the relationship between the powerful and the powerless is a tale as old as time.

In order to stop this harmful cycle that will lead America into many more disagreements and even more polarization, we must address the power struggle. Even more specifically, the oppressed person or group must name the harmful power dynamic and peacefully work to end that dynamic. However, this is no easy task. The oppressor might not see themselves as all-powerful. Many times the person in power does not know or believe that they have large amounts of power and that they are viewed as all-powerful. This often leads to the powerful not listening to the powerless which destroys the hope of healing and change. No wonder this dynamic has been happening since the beginning of time.