Chatta and Mundu

From being from the west, I was curious what type of clothes they would being wearing in the book. I also wanted some sort of visual of what it would look like. The author mentioned in Chapter 8 that Kochu Maria still wears her “spotless half-sleeved white chatta with v-neck and her white mundu.”(161) She explains that this is the traditional dress for the Syrian Christians women. However, she further explains that some have decided to start wearing saris.

Kochu Maria says she will not stop wearing this type of dress because she does not want people not see her as a Syrian christian despite her low paying job. She wants to be seen as a “touchable, upper-class Christian”(162) She is using her appearance to further her position in a very tight caste system in the novel.

I researched this type of dress, chatta and mundu, and found it was very common in the late 19th century to early 20th century and originated in southern India. It was influenced by European colonialism. This style of dress went out of style sometime in the 1950s which furthers Kochu Maria’s traditional mindset.

Image result for HOW TO WEAR KACHAMURI

Orientalism in Law and Order

Law and Order has seen many soon-to-be stars make appearances on the show: Idris Elba, Bradley Copper and Kerry Washington to name a few. However these guest stars tend to play some very stereotypical roles. Young African-American men always seem to be portrayed as gang members and young Middle-Eastern actors always seem to play someone connected to a terrorist or a terrorist themselves.

This reminded me of Orientalism. This viewing of people from the East as less then and in a very stereotypical way despite knowing it can’t always be true. Law and Order is unique example because it has been on even before 9/11. The show has a distinct shift in how Middle Eastern actors are portrayed on the show. Everyone that was Middle Eastern was put into a box of terrorism.

This racist idea is very harmful for the relationship between the West and the East. I read an article which made the connection that the majority of serial killers are White American men but that does mean that everyone assumes all white men are serial killers. However, this not making assumptions does not seem to stretch to people of color. Despite the fact, that majority of terrorist do come from the Middle East, it does not mean that everyone from the Middle East are terrorist. Orientalism is a way to describe this generalization in Law and Order.

Supermarket Flowers

I choose Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran from his album Divide, untimely because I think it is a very beautiful song. I feel that it is very heartfelt. The song is about the death of his grandmother but it is told though his mother’s point of view.

Even though the song is written about something quite sad, it does have positive moments. This is shown in the line “a heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved”. I love this line because it is showcasing how special she was. Heartbreak comes with love but that doesn’t mean we should avoid love. This is further explained in a later line by saying, ” A life with love is a life that has been lived.”

There is also an angel metaphor for his grandmother in the song. The lyric reflecting this is, ” You were an angel in the shape of my mom – when I fell down you’d be there holding me up This is really showcasing a mother’s love. In life, they are holding us up but even in death they are still there watching over us. Mothers are larger then life sometimes. They are figures that seem to always see the best in us and I thought that an angel was a perfect representation of that idea.

The entire song has an abundance of imagery. The song explains going though the house and cleaning everything up after her death. I thought this was very powerful because it felt very real and ordinary. It has a simplicity to it that just makes it hit home. It feels very personal.

This is a link to the lyrics.

Tiny Tobacco Box

One of my favorite examples of figurative language used in the novel is when Paul D describes his heart as a “tin tobacco box.” After his traumatizing experiences at Sweet Home and, especially, at the prison camp in Georgia, he locks away his feelings and horrors from his past in this box, which, by the time Paul D arrives at 124, “rusted” over completely.

This is a comment on trauma. This way of dealing with trauma is so different then how Sethe deals with trauma. I thought it was so interesting that Paul D has to completely cut off his past whereas Sethe can’t seem to escape her own past. I thought the metaphor of a box rusted over was a very thought out way to express Paul D’s emotions.

By hiding from his emotions, Paul D hopes to preserve himself from further psychological damage. Paul D sacrifices much of his humanity by letting go of his feelings and gives up much of his self by repressing his memories.

Trauma is unique for every person even when they share some similar situations. Toni Morrison does a wonderful job of representing how trauma is a completely personal experience.

Black Robes

Nadia is consistently wearing her robes even when they are no longer in her home country. Nadia never wears the robes as a religious statement but more as a way to prevent people from messing with her.

The type of robe that Nadia was wearing was probably a chador, which is a full-body shawl that is held together at the neck either by a pin or hand. It is popular in Iran.

In my Modern Middle Eastern Class, I did a culture project on reasons why women would wear head covering and robes. In Western Culture, it is sometimes tough to not see head coverings and robes as oppression of women. However, for many it is a very personal choice and not an oppressive act at all.

Dr. Mrs. N.Z. Vakil explains, “ I feel protected and confident when I step out [in a hijab].” This is very similar to Nadia’s reasons for wearing her robes. In America, we see dressing super modestly as a form of being politically conservative or as old-fashioned. But for Nadia and Dr.Vakil, it is something way more then that. Deciding to wear some sort of covering could be because of religion, style, protection or a statement. We have to understand that not every head-covering or robe is a forced act or as extreme as a burqa. There is no denying that Nadia is strong and independent with or without the robes.

Joy from Struggle

Sisyphus’s punishment in hell is to push up a rock to the top of a hill for the rest of time. However, no matter what the rock will fall back down. Despite this, Camus explains Sisyphus is not being tortured. He argues that the rock becomes Sisyphus’s way to happiness. The struggle itself is giving Sisyphus meaning. The struggle in the myth showcases the reliance in the human condition. Camus explains that human struggle is the only way that people can find meaning and independence in life. Humans need to face the absurdness of the situation head-on in order to overcome it.

Does that mean for human beings to be truly happy they need to discover what their “rock” is and overcome it?

Part of me thinks this task sounds incredibly daunting but also overly simplistic. Who only has one “rock” in their life? Life is a serious of “rocks” that we are faced with and how are supposed to decide what is this “rock”? I do agree that our struggles do give our lives meaning. I do not know if you can call what Sisyphus has true happiness more so contentment in his situation. I do like the idea of though our struggles there are moments of joy and only though struggle are we able to recognize this joy. It is a concept that proves humans are truly resilient.

Mutual Recognition in “Bloodchild”

Jessica Benjamin explains that people have to recognize everyone as individuals in order to avoid dominance and aggression. People need to build relationships to steer clear of building a hierarchy of dominance. Without building relationships, people will never reach mutual recognition. Benjamin disagrees with Freud’s theory because the theory ignores the need to connect with others. It also only allows for women to be submissive players in their own lives. However, both need to realize the power dynamic in order to reach mutual recognition. 

This need to recognize that you are in a power dynamic is a bit problematic to me because although people in the submissive side do need to realize they are being oppressed for the relationship to change, more responsibility should be given to the dominant side of the relationship. The dominant side enforces the power dynamic and it ultimately up to them to fix the skewed relationship. 

In “Bloodchild” although Gan is ultimately given the choose to decide whether him or his sister should be impregnated, this is not a sign of mutual recognition. The choice is not really his because someone in his family is still going to have to go though this painful process. The terrains do have examples of not completely submitting to the power dynamic. However, the Tilcs are still the ones with the power and will not be willing to give more power to the terrains because then their species would be threatened by not being able to reproduce. The dynamic is very oppressive to the terrains. Gan, since birth, has been brainwashed that it is his duty to be impregnated. When he contemplating not to be impregnated, he was taking some power back but he never reaches mutual recognition. The terrains are seen as a mean to reproduce and not as an individual on the same level as the Tilcs. Mutual recognition would only be achieved if both sides saw each other as equals in all parts of life.