21

In her hit single, “21“, Gracie Abrams sings about the pain and heartache of lost love. She mourns a recent breakup, feeling a mix of regret and thinking of what could’ve been. Although it is unknown what caused the two to separate, Abrams utilizes strong poetic language to express just how much of a toll it had taken on her, physically and mentally. She later commented that this song allowed her to say everything she had to say that she was unable to do before, allowing her to release her bottled up feelings, much like poetry itself. Abrams writes

I’m sorry if you blame me, if I were you I would
Thought you’d see it coming, but you never could
I still haven’t heard from your family
But you said your mom always loved me

Abram’s use of AABB rhyming scheme helps pull the reader in to the story she is telling. Her song is directed towards the person she is missing, while also being able to resonate with a general audience of listeners who may have gone through a similar experience. This makes the song more real, diving more into the aftermath of a breakup that involves not only the severed bond between those dating, but to the other’s family as well.

Just because you’re hurting doesn’t mean I’m not
If it doesn’t go away by the time I turn thirty
I made a mistake and I’ll tell you I’m sorry
“Sorry”

Her use of “Hurting” here goes both ways, both for the other person and herself. She shoulders the blame and regret, which people may use as a way to justify the pain she is feeling. But it goes beyond that, showing the weight of a breakup and how it affects both parties, no matter how big or small.

When the night is over
Don’t call me up I’m already under

Abram’s multidimensional language used here is the many interpretations of “under”. She’s at her lowest underneath, out of reach of those around her. She feels crushed under self-loathing and past mistakes. Someone going under is another way to say that they are feeling defeated and overwhelmed. It all ties back to her central theme that inspects all layers of her pain, from the surface level to the furthest depths. Along with this, she utilizes contrast with two opposites by following “up” with “under”. She feels submerged in her misery, unable to reach the surface or free herself of drowning guilt that would plague her for years.

Meursault and Matthew: One in the Same?

Upon reading the novel The Stranger and watching the movie Trust, the similarities of two important characters in these two different stories are hard to ignore: Meursault and Matthew. Their own names bare a resemblance (both starting with “M”) as does the names of the women they take a liking to: Marie and Maria. They also both play a significant role in the lives of those around them. Meursault getting Marie to fall in love with him and propose to him, and Matthew showing up in Marie’s life and changing her outlook on her future and what she wants to do with it.

Despite their similarities, they also have their differences. Meursault doesn’t seem to fall in love or have a desire for love with Marie the way that Matthew does towards Maria, Matthew even going as far as wishing to marry her on a whim. Matthew also seems to be more expressive and emotional, showing frustration and anger towards Marie’s mother taking advantage of her. Meanwhile, Meursault lacked the ability to cry at his own mother’s funeral or show any emotion at all.

This demonstrates the various ways that lifestyles can differ from person to person throughout fiction and real life, no two people being exactly the same.

The Moral of Sisyphus

After reading the compelling tale of Sisyphus and the unexpected satisfaction he has in his own eternal torture, one could raise the debate on whether or not this way of thinking is one to embrace or reject. Should we adapt to this strange lifestyle to lead a more fulfilling life?

I do believe it’s important to feel in control of your future, but having complete certainty of your entire life ahead doesn’t always work. Don’t get me wrong, there is indeed satisfaction in certainty and having everything planned out. However, this doesn’t automatically lead to pure happiness. Sisyphus is able to control his fate of rolling the rock up the hill over and over again, but this could also lead to an empty and tiresome life devoid of excitement and hope. While not always entirely good, uncertainty can lead to exhilaration and joy from being able to try a new experience without worrying so much about how it will turn out in the end.

“The Elephant Vanishes” and Symbolism

“The Elephant Vanishes” is an incredibly interesting story, full of mystery, connections and revelations. It further pushes the depth of its storytelling by demonstrating a connection to the real world and the balance, or rather imbalance, between human beings and animals today.

In this short story, the aged elephant had been adopted and taken care of by this town, despite the debate about it beforehand. Crowds would gather to admire the elephant during the day, while the zookeeper would stay at night to keep it company and clean the living space. The elephant especially grew close to the zookeeper, affectionately putting its trunk on the back of the man while he was working. Even the narrator acknowledges the clear bond of trust between the two, despite any exchange of dialogue.

In reality, the bond between humans and elephants isn’t as warm. The rate of illegal elephant poaching each year still ride high, an estimated 30,000 African elephants being poached yearly. Hunters only see elephants for their expensive tusks, rather then the life it belongs to.

Jessica Benjamin’s View on Independence

Jessica Benjamin argues that true independence comes from recognizing the other person in a relationship, rather than attempting to be the dominant person in an attempt for control. A healthy relationship requires balance and mutual respect, not one person having too much or too little “power” that would instead create a divide between them. If one person aims to secure more authority or control over the other person, whether it be a romantic or platonic relationship, the bond is weakened and they both end up being harmed. The relationships that we have with others plays a role in our identity and how we continue to grow as people. Benjamin also brings up the fact that people need to feel distinct yet connected to others. Even though this pattern can be difficult to maintain, being associated with others can help a person grow and learn.