Three Children On The Riverbank

In Arundhati Roy’s novel, The God of Small Things, Roy builds to the climax of the novel just for it to fall short of surprising. Through constant foreshadowing and revealing small details throughout the book, Roy leaves the audience already expecting what will happen, leaving a more emphasized yet comfortable storytelling. In Chapter 16, the disaster of Sophie Mol’s death finally transpires. The passage begins with the kids entering the river bank with the motives of making the adults feel guilty. Sophie mol is hesitant and Roy’s writing infers that something bad may happen, “Sophie Mol was more tentative. A little frightened of what lurked in the shadows around her.” Roy contrasts the comfortability of Estha and Rahel who “seemed to trust the darkness” with Sophie Mol’s hesitation and unfamiliarity, commenting on the twin’s eastern origins and being careless with danger, while the cousin is western–innocent to the shadows. This idea of attempting to combine both the east and west is carried on when Sophie Mol tries to convince Estha and Rahel that her accompanying them is “essential”. She states that “the absence of children, all children, would heighten the adults’ remorse.” Sophie Mol, while it would seem like the whole novel tries to depict easterners as yearning to become more western, tries to mix in with Rahel and Estha–her rejection of Chacko and Baby Kochamma in order to win their approval.

Roy, subtlely discusses the failure of the westerners trying to familiarize themself with the east, and this results in a horrific scene. With Sophie Mol’s death left in the hands of Estha and Rahel, the motif of Pappachi’s moth returns, showing the fear and anger that resides in Rahel’s heart: “On Rahel’s heart Pappachi’s moth snapped open its somber wings. Out. In. And lifted its legs.” The metaphor of Pappachi’s moth is finally completed at this moment, finally opening its wings. This passage really exemplifies one of the main tragedies of The God of Small Things and answers questions about Orientalism that influence Western perceptions.

The man who never quit

King Lear was a story of patience and loyalty. It really demonstrates a complex and morality-based play that will forever be timeless. There is this recurring motif throughout the play that comments on the value of enduring pain plus the perseverance through that pain. A character in King Lear that truly embodies these values is Edgar. Edgar really struck me as a character as soon as he was deceived in the first act. Right away, he was thrown aside by his brother, Edmund, and even unowned by Gloucester, his father, just so Edmund could become the heir over Edgar.

Edgar and Edmund represent this brotherly bond that is twisted by a very relevant power dynamic: Natural vs Unnatural. While this dynamic is seen in many other aspects of the play, it is most prevalent in Edmunds craving to receive power over Edgar, who has the “natural” power. I think while it’s important to notice the wrongs within society that values natural over unnatural, it should be pointed out that Edgar, throughout the play, is actually able to be placed on the same footing as Edmund, who had been treated poorly his whole life. Edgar was pushed, brutally into an unnatural state where he struggled through things we could not even imagine experiencing. He was ripped of his identity and lived as a beggar in order to survive and still gain knowledge of the kingdom. Throughout the hardships he encountered, his patience was admirable. Not once did he give up nor lose his drive to get back to where he was. This is what I like most about Edgar–his ability to face the unnatural with heart and passion. Another admirable thing about Edgar was his loyalty and love for his father. Edgar knew that his father was innocent and just trying to be the best father he could be, even if he was easily deceived.

Edgar proves that with a good cause, people can preserve through the worst of situations.

A Friend And A Cousin

In Saba’s 2018 album, CARE FOR ME, he tackles headfirst into the isolation and trauma he faced growing up in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. His poetic style of Chicago hip-hop and rap is highlighted especially in his 2nd to last track PROM / KING. In this song, he speaks vividly about his early memories of his cousin and fellow Pivot Gang member, John Walt, and the lead-up to his fatal stabbing in early 2017. As Perrine states in his definition of poetry, “Poetry, finally, is a multi-dimensional language,” it uses intelligence, senses, emotions, and imagination to communicate experience. Saba not only fulfills these requirements but goes above and beyond in his storytelling in order to provide an even greater understanding of his perspective to the listener. PROM / KING holds the importance of family up on a pedestal. Through his lyrics, he explains how one’s family is always close by to help through hardships, no matter what. Saba, without a doubt, can place his listener in his shoes. He uses relatable imagery and diction in order to display the character of John Walt and the progression of their relationship through the years.

I think about it for a minute, like, “What’s his intentions?”
I mean, we never really got along or used to kick it
In fact, if I remember—vividly—he picked on me
He used to beat me up and take my sneakers every family visit

Saba

Saba is so personable in his writing. Like in reality, people constantly interrupt stories with spontaneous thoughts. This verse above is placed as an intrusion to the prior one and acts as a flashback where Saba recalls his past encounters with Walt. These thoughts that enter sporadically in the song foreshadow Saba’s frustration and distress that are revealed later. In the 3rd line, he emphasizes how clearly he remembers his relationship with his cousin–creating even more tension when Saba finally decides to trust his cousin and call his prom date.

Phrasing and syntax are crucial elements throughout the song. With a simple usage of line breaks, commas, and semi-colons, Saba is able to influence his own perspective and compare and contrast it with others.

Me and Cuz stayed down the street, living different lives
Every day, he on the bus; me, I get a ride
I gave him thirty on the porch, he never went inside
He tells me, “Thank you,” then he walk back home with a smile
He tryna hide it, but I see his dimple

Saba

In the first three lines of this verse, Saba perfectly captures the past relationship between him and Walt. He starts the line off with “Me and Cuz stayed down the street,” then finishes it with “living different lives.” Despite their close location, they had no insight into what each other’s lives were like, very much demonstrating that alienation people may feel when living in big cities such as Chicago. There is even social class commentary on the line, “he on the bus; me, I get a ride.” Saba creates this visual image of separation as well as literal separation within the lines. Although this past meeting between the two is merely transactional, to end the verse, Saba pushes forth the idea that he and Walt have a solid connection forming, even though he hides it, Saba “sees his dimple”.

PROM / KING is fluid in its execution. What is so unique about Saba’s music is his ability to shift into different movements inside of the song, sort of like a sonata, in classical terms. The structure of the song is developed in a way where there are two parts, Prom and King. Prom, tells the story of how Saba’s cousin, Walt, helps him get a prom date, establishing a strong relationship between the two. The song then transitions into part two, King, where Walt and Saba become extremely close friends and successfully create music together until the shocking details of Walt’s death are revealed. I find this aspect of PROM / KING poetic because it is a technique of storytelling that undoubtedly enlightens and moves the listener. We go into the song not knowing John Walt, to wishing there was a possibility of saving him before his life was taken away. This is poetry. The listener lives through the experience and learns from it thanks to the brilliance of the writer. We learn to never take anything for granted…

I just hope I make it ’til tomorrow

Saba

The Girl From Mykonos

One story element of Exit West that I found interesting was Nadia’s encounter with the medical volunteer in Mykonos who treated her after she cut her arm while trying to escape a group of pursuers. Hamid briefly mentions this connection between the two, yet in his use of diction, the connection seems to be pretty strong. Hamid barely talks about their actual experience together. However at the end of the chapter, Hamid describes the farewell between the two, noting that ” Nadia hugged her too, and this hug lasted a long time, and the girl whispered something to her, whispered, and then she and Saeed turned and stepped through the door and left Mykonos behind,”(118). I love the mystery behind this goodbye, the reader never knowing what is whispered by the girl. There were definitely some attractive feelings split between the two and I always wondered what they really were thinking.

What is even more interesting is how Nadia mentions this girl from Mykonos at the end of the book, when contemplating the tension in her relationship with Saeed. Nadia argues that she has not lost her general sensuality, just lost only for Saeed, saying that when “she pleasured herself she thought increasingly of that girl, the girl from Mykonos, and the strength of her response no longer surprised her,” (200). This clearly supports Nadia’s fondness for this girl and how in this broken state between her and Saeed, she finds excitement in thinking her. Overall, I think it’s interesting how much a factor this girl might be in Nadia’s mind and the readers would never even know it. Since it is never explained what Nadia does in the half-century of time that transpires before she and Saeed meet up again, I think it could be possible that Nadia actually went back to Mynokos to rekindle this relationship.

Living on his own terms

After Meursault receives the verdict of the trial, he his awaits execution with endless hours of contemplation. What I thought was interesting was his encounter with the chaplain who visits Meursault in his jail cell. The chaplain visits to instill faith into Meursault before his death, though, this causes him to lash out and insult the chaplain. I was intrigued by this piece of text because it contrasted the normal Meursault behavior we saw throughout the novel. He is usually nonchalant and collected but this time, we see him become physically agitated as he condemns the chaplain.

On page 120, The chaplain says “I am on your side. But you have no way of knowing it, because your heart is blind. I shall pray for you.” The chaplain pleads with Meursault to let him know that he is just trying to help but, Meursault immediately rejects this notion, “I started yelling at him at the top of my lungs, and I insulted him and told him not to waste his prayers on me,” (120). This response was a breaking point for Meursault and led him to really accept his opposition to religion and accept the choices he made. From this, we can tell that Meursault can really lose his cool when he is told what to do or how to act, instead of being an agent of his own choices.

We then see Meursault emphasize his satisfaction with the choices he has made. He says, ” I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could have just as well lived it another.” He knows that some choices were better than others but he’s proud that he lived the way he wanted to live. So, as long as Mearsault lives by his own principles, he is content. When others attempt to suppress that freedom that he loves, he loses his composed manner that we are all used to.

Living in the Absurd

In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, it is clear from the beginning how disengaged Meursault may live. Although many see this behavior as a dissatisfaction with one’s present condition, I believe Meursault is actually fine with how he experiences his life.

]Similar to Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, Meaursault has accepted the inevitable absurdity of life. He realizes that as an individual we confront binary choices, “It was then that I realized you either shoot or not shoot” (56), and points out the futility in it all, “To stay or to go , it amounted to the same thing”. As Meaursault welcomes the idea that his actions become meaningless it allows the complete unpredictability and peculiar elements of life to seem perfectly normal. This is shown a bit through the encounter with the woman who was eating at Celeste’s.

This brief anecdote is placed randomly within the text where it becomes a total tangent from what Meaursault was previously talking about. Meaursault was first describing a physical connection with Marie when he immediately transports himself to Celeste’s, “I had dinner at Celeste’s. I’d already started eating when a strange little woman came in and asked me if she could sit at my table” (43). Throughout the paragraph, Meaursault depicts the odd behaviors of the woman as she computes her bill, writes down the radio programs of the week, and displays robot-like movements during dinner. Meaursault, in total observation, decides to follow her out of the restaurant then says, ” I thought about how peculiar she was but forgot about her a few minutes later” ( 44). The book then takes the reader back into the flow of the story as Meaursault encounters Salamano. However, going back to the experience with the woman, what was the point? What does this encounter mean and is there any significance to the story as a whole? I’m not sure. Though, I do know it says something about Meaursault’s acceptance of the oddities of life.