Altering the Love Laws As We Thought We Knew It

Throughout the novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy the topic of caste differences, specifically between Velutha and the Ayemenem house. However, in the last chapter of the novel, we get an in-depth explanation of sex between Velutha and Ammu. From about the middle to the end of the novel the relationship between Ammu and Velutha seemed to be a crime of passion and lust. But with the description of the sex between these two, not only is it the only time in the story where we are told this is happening vividly, but the chapter holds more power than just lust. This chapter contrasts the traditional viewpoints between Touchables and the Untouchables and destroys everything thought of with the Love Laws motif explained throughout the novel, more specifically, who can be loved. In it’s explained, “She could hear the wild hammering of his heart. She help him till it calmed down. Somewhat” (Roy 316). The explanation of Velutha’s heart-pounding somewhat humanizes him, which goes against how he has been characterized before, as an animal. I also find the word choice of the chapter, The Cost of Living, very interesting because it tells the severity of the relationship between Ammu and Velutha. This while chapter not only describes the intimate story between two people but it’s an opposition to the mistreatment and alienation of lower caste people but the true love between Ammu and Velutha, far beyond what Baby Kochamma — who could not believe that Ammu would even allow this to happen— thought of their relationship.

The Development from King to Person

Throughout the play, The Tragedy of King Lear by Shakespeare, the two characters that have always caught my attention was King Lear himself. At the beginning of the play he was very arrogant while asking his daughters pretty much, “Which one of you loves me the most for land.” This in itself shows the power craved Lear, as he banishes Cordelia for telling him she loves him as any daughter would love a father to which he says, “Here I disclaim all my paternal care, / Propinquity, and property of blood, / And as a stranger to my heart and me / Hold thee from this forever. The barbarous / Scythian” (I.i.125-129). Here Lear —after being told that his daughter only loves him normally— is very upset and gets rid of any connection between Cordelia and him even by blood. By this we can see that he is very self-centered and is upset that he does not have faked loved. However, as the play continues we see that Lear changes and is considerate of poorer people who must endure the raging storm. It is then that we see the formation of humanity in Lear, something we did not see previously. With the banishment of Cordelia, also, shows the lack of parental understanding or parenting in general, however, this changes around the end of the story Lear tells Cordelia, “Pray do not mock: / I am a very foolish and fond old man, / Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less, / And to deal plainly, / I fear I am not in my perfect mind” (IV.vii.68-72). We notice a major difference from the beginning to the end with Lear’s characteristics, such as taking accountability for his wrong doings and expressing his fear of going mad to Cordelia, which he would typically push aside exclaiming to the gods that he hopes he does not go mad. A representation of parenthood is expressed when Lear tells Cordelia, “No, no, no, no. Come, let’s away to prison. We two alone will sing likes birds i’ th’ cage. / When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down / And ask for thee forgiveness. So we’ll live, / And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh…” (V.iii.9-13). Lear, here, is completely willing to go to jail to be able to spend quality time with Cordelia as he possibly did not do before. This shows Lear’s change in perspectives as he is not wanting to talk to Cordelia and even willing to kneel and beg for her forgiveness, which a king, and definitely not King Lear from the beginning. I find the development of Lear’s character and the perspective shift he had because of his lost of control and power may illustrate how power, while it can be used for good things, it can corrupt someone.

The Tale of a Wonderful Yesterday

When I first found this song I was watching a movie called “Our Idiot Brother” with Paul Rudd, and in the movie, there was a dog whose name was Willie Nelson, so naturally, the director of the movie had countless Willie Nelson songs whenever the dog showed up. The song “Wonderful Future” by Willie Nelson from the album The Willie Way discusses the life of Willie Nelson, as a person who has lived his life and experienced great things, and because of this he reflects on his life and expresses that his memories are all he has to remember, and because of these memories he has nothing for him in his future. Throughout this song the speaker is Willie himself, talking to someone who he loved (as in a relationship) and he is explaining his pain to them. This takes place possibly in Nelson’s home while reflecting on his life and how he feels now (or while he was thinking about his past). The song first begins by expressing his reflection of his dreams as he (metaphorically looks at them) or as though he is introducing to the audience the beginning of the walkthrough of his past. However, he explains that he is the same person of his past, and that the memories of his past still resonate with him in this moment of reflection. The song is explaining to the listener that holding on to the memories of your past is important but this then leads you to nothing in the future because you have lived the moments that leave you with imprints. More specifically the likes that struck me the most are:

I’m alone in the sweet used-to-be
My past and my present are one and the same

This part of the song (the introduction) tells the listener directly that as he walks through his past and dreams, though they are the same person (or he is the same person he’s always been) he is alone with only those memories to ponder

Yesterday’s kisses still burning
And yesterday’s mem’ries still find me
Scenes from the past keep returning

This part alone allows the reader to think of this song as the reflection of a relationship that ended (with the word “kisses”). Also, the use word “burning” alludes to pain from these never-ending memories that keep returning. It almost seems like he’s trying to escape this pain that he feels but the “scenes” of his past keep haunting him almost

You say there is happiness waiting for me
But I know this is just fantasy
Let me trade one tomorrows for one yesterday
Live in my garden of dreams

The use of the word “you” entails that someone specifically has said this but also that he’s speaking to someone, possibly someone he was in a past relationship with. Furthermore, the last line of this stanza reflects back to his “garden of dreams” similar to how his past keeps returning his dreams come back as well. What’s more interesting though, is when he explains that he would trade a day of his future to be able to live another day in the past, because it illustrates his sadness and desperation to live his past again.

This song, to me, not only tells the story of not being able to escape your emotions from the past but also that having those memories are important in the sense that you’ve lived such a part in your life that you want to go back to it.

Willie Nelson – Wonderful Future Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

A Not-So-Complex Complex Novel

In the novel, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, after Nadia steps though the first door to get to the Greek Islands it is noted that,
“Nadia experienced a kind of extinguishing as she entered the backness and a grasping struggle as she fought to exit, and she felt cold and bruised and damp as she lay on the floor of the room at the other side, trembling and too spent at the first stand, and she thought, while she was strained to fill her lungs, that this dampness mist be her own sweat”(104). The explanation of Nadia’s experience while stepping though the door is very interesting, and seems almost intense and emotionally pact. The detail of filling her lungs and the cold/bruising feeling creates a sadness and rebirth feeling, like something was restricting her lungs fro getting any oxygen or she has just come from the depths of a dark ocean in a sea of unknown. This can also be inferred to be emotional and possibly physical characteristics and descriptions of what it’s like to migrate to a new country, being in a place you don’t understand or know, a possible feeling of helplessness and overwhelmingness. Also after Saeed comes though the door after Nadia it’s mentioned that, “she saw Saeed pivot back to the door, as though he wished maybe to reverse course and return through ut, and she stood beside him without speaking…”(105). This can also be inferred to be a representation of the fact that migrants sometimes don’t want to leave their home but have to, and when they do they may regret it.

Also in the novel, there is a short description of a man who is planning on killing himself, but before he does so he notices that his door has become an opening to another place in the world, but ignores it. However, right before he is about to do anything he wants to see what could possibly be on the other side of the door and, “Later his daughter and his best friend would receive via phones a photo of him, on a seaside… and a message that said he would not be returning…”(111). The explanation of this man using the door to escape a life that only brought him disappointment and bring happiness into his life shows the contrasts between the primary story, using these doors to escape war and seek refuge, and this man’s story, using the door to go somewhere on vacation or somewhere tropical. This contrast illustrates the privilege that people have in this story and how it is utilized for themselves and their well-being. Finally, when a very pale woman from Australia is explained to be living in a home in a wealthy neighborhood that has been gentrified, it’s explained that in her side table she has “passports, checkbooks, receipts, coins, keys, a pair of handcuffs, and a few paper-wrapped sticks of unchewed chewing gum” (8). Specifically the mention of the handcuffs in this woman’s side table illustrates the power she has to be able to control when she or someone is constrained shows and contrasts later when the man coming out of the closet when he has little control of where he is.

Who is Meursault?

In the novel The Stranger we are introduced to the character named Meursault is someone who does not seem to make true emotional connections and is emotionless for most of the story. An example of this behavior can be noted after Marie, Meursault’s girlfriend, asks him if he wants to marry her, “I said it didn’t make any difference and that we could if she wanted to. Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had last time, that it didn’t mean anything but that I probably didn’t love her” (41). Meursault’s behavior is interesting because he doesn’t seem to have or even want to have an emotional connection and makes that evident. His mannerisms are interesting as well because he consistently describes what he’s doing, whether that’s waking up in the morning after spending the night with Marie as he “rolled over, tried to find the salty smell Marie’s hair had left on the pillow”(21) or following a girl home whom he did not know.

It’s interesting that he does this because it allows us (the readers) to see how he views things and his thought processes behind some of his actions. From this we can conclude that he thinks in a more realistic but also beautiful way. In Chapter 2, while Meursault is at home watching the events taking place over the balcony, he describes, “…the passing clouds had left a hint of rain hanging over the street, which made it look darker…The sky changed again. Above the rooftops the sky had taken a reddish glow, and with an evening coming on the streets came to life”(23). Meursault is a very descriptive when he talks about a person or thing that he sees, and this allows the reader to see how beautifully he sees the world, which sparks the inference that his mindset (being more closed off from people and living in the moment) allows someone to see the beauty of the world and the beauty of life really. However, in Meursault’s case, though he sees the world with such beauty, he also does not refect any emotion towards anyone which seems confusing. Meursault is a complex character and his view of the world, for the most part is interesting, while he does not seem to be interested in emotional connections, to the point where he kills a man.

The Myth of Sisyphus: The Deeper Meaning

The main concern of The Myth of Sisyphus is what the author calls absurd. This claim stems from the idea that there is a conflict between what we want from the universe and what we’ll get from the universe. That we won’t find what we truly want in life. This argument is told through the story of Sisyphus who, after dying and going to the underworld, asks Pluto (part of the universe) to return to earth which Pluto allows. After realizing how beautiful earth Sisyphus does not want to return to the underworld, however, Mercury (also part of the universe) forced Sisyphus to return to the underworld. After returning to the underworld people created myths of Sisyphus and how he was being punished in the underworld (though “hopeless labor”), one being that he had to push a rock up a large slope and once he was able to make it to the top of the slope he had to return back to his rick to repeat the process. Camus utilizes this to further explain that having meaning and purpose on earth is only an escape from facing the absurd and struggling against it.

Relationships/Social Unawareness

In the novel, The Stranger by Albert Camus the the narrator, Meursault, is in a relationship with a woman named Marie who he explains is someone he cares for deeply, however does not seem to show any emotion when it comes to their relationship. After witnessing Raymond (Meursault neighbor) physically and verbally abuse a woman whom Raymond thought was cheating, Marie, “wasn’t hungry; I [Meursault] ate almost everything” (37). He seems to be unaware of the importance of that just happened and is almost unbothered by this.

Meursault also refuses to express much emotion, no matter the situation and seems as though he cannot think for himself. After having dinner with Marie one night, she suddenly asks Meursault to marry her, to which he explains that, “…it didn’t make any difference to me and that we would if she wanted. Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had last time, that it didn’t mean anything but that I probably didn’t love her. ‘So why marry me, then?’ she said. I explained to her that it didn’t really matter and that if she wanted to, we could get married” (41). Meursault does not seem to care whether he marries Marie which, realistically, is a huge deal. He repeats the similar phrases, “it didn’t make a difference to me” or “it didn’t mean anything” which shows his lack for involvement in both his relationship and everyday life. With something has large as marriage typically someone would be either nervous or ecstatic but he is neither of those.

Lastly, Meursault shows little emotional connection to Marie, by only really describing her physical characteristics and also that Meursault doesn’t show any emotion ever. When Meursault, Marie, and Raymond decide to go to the beach on a warm Sunday to meet one of Raymond’s friends, Marie invites Meursault into the water with her, when he explains, “We ran and threw ourselves into the first little waves. We swam a few strokes and she reached out and held onto me. I felt her legs wrapped around mine and I wanted her” (51). This is not the first time he has explain something about Marie and then afterwards explains that he wants her. He consistently only describes her physical appearance and wants to just have sex with her, he doesn’t really ever explain her personality or another reason he’s with her other than her physical appearance.