When the Narrator is Crazy

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is told strictly from the perspective of the main character, Janina. Throughout the book she provides her theories on how the commandant, the president, Innerd, and the priest were murdered, telling the authorities it was the deer seeking revenge for being hunted. It isn’t until the end of the story that she reveals it was actually her. This unreliable narration not only creates a huge plot twist at the end but highlights how Janina believed she was acting in place of the deer. After admitting her guilt Janina states that she was a tool for the deer to get their justice. Her insistence that the animals committed the crimes shows that she believes the deer wanted her to do it and used her as an extension of themselves. Tokarczuk uses Janina’s perspective to develop a delusional character who feels very connected to nature and the animals around her. By slowly building these aspects of Janina throughout the book, Tokarczuk allows the reader to experience what Janina feels and sympathize with her which makes the end of the book much more impactful.

Women in Power

This play analyses power from many different angles from what it means to be in power, how power changes people, and the different ways power can be expressed. There are many characters in this play that work to grow their power, but the ones who seemed to be changed by it the most are the women, Goneril and Regan. As they experience having more and more power they seem to lose sight of themselves and go mad. Their first taste is seen when they cunningly strip Lear’s power from him with their words. At this point, they are manipulative and subtle in their expression of their power. As the play progresses and Gloucester is deem a traitor, Regan expresses her power in a much more agressive way. Cornwall is plucking out Gloucester’s eye and Regan insists he removes the other one as well before casting him out of his own home. She is obsessed with this feeling of control and takes it to the extreme simply because she can. At the end of the play, both Goneril and Regan want to marry Edmund and compete with each other for his hand. In an effort to gain control of the situation, Goneril poisons Regan. She resorts to killing her own sister just so that he may have her way. Throughout the progression of the story, Goneril and Regan go from being scheming to blatantly agressive. Gaining power seems to make them go crazy.

Historically women being in power was considered perverse. It was assumed that they wouldn’t be able to handle it or that they were unfit. This stereotype is displayed in these two characters. Once they gain power, they turn unnecessarily cruel. Unlike the men in the play, these women are mentally contorted by the power they gain like it is too much for them to handle.

Jimmy Sparks

The Lumineers album III tells the story of the Sparks family. the album is broken up into three EP’s I, II, and III. I focuses on the mother/grandmother, Gloria Sparks, an alcoholic whose poor choices constantly put her and her family at risk. II is about Junior sparks, Gloria’s grand son. III depicts the life of Jimmy Sparks, Gloria’s son and Junior’s father. He struggles with many kinds of addiction and has little experience with healthy relationships. As the song Jimmy Sparks goes on it tells the story of Jimmy’s troubled life and how his strained relationship with his son as a child affects him in the future.

Jimmy believed in the American way
A prison guard, he worked hard and made the minimum wage
He found his freedom lockin’ men in a cage

This song centers around addiction and hardships. Jimmy is stuck in multiple unhealthy habits and is governed by his own addictions. Professionally he works as a prison guard and uses the power he has there to gain a sense of control. These lines explain the entirety of Jimmy’s experience. He worked as hard as he could to no avail, causing him to feel lost. Instead of addressing this directly, Jimmy looks for other outlets, such as his authority over prisoners. The irony in the last line is used to show how he feels out of control in his personal life and overcompensates through his control within prisons.

The waitress babysat the boy at the bar, oh no
After an hour, Jimmy doubled his cash
He took his kid and his winnings as the dealer just laughed

These lines display the relationship between Jimmy and his son. Junior grew up watching his dad struggle with substance abuse and a gambling addiction. While Jimmy did win, the dealers reaction shows that it won’t be the end of it. The dealer is aware of Jimmy’s problem and is amused by his temporary victory before he returns and loses the money again. The description of a simple expression says a lot about the patterns Jimmy displays that aren’t blatantly mentioned.

His old man waved his hands with tears in his eyes
But Jimmy’s son just sped up and remembered daddy’s advice
No, you don’t ever give a hitcher a ride ’cause it’s us or them
‘Cause it’s me or him

Jimmy and Junior have an obviously strained relationship but that is never explicitly stated. In this one moment, one of the final stories told in the song, the full extent of their issues are visible. Jimmy was incapable of providing his son with a typical childhood and it stuck with him. The majority of these lines are a memory of a “lesson” Jimmy gave his son. This lesson influenced Juniors decision to not help his dad. Junior is unable to move past the way his father brought him up and because of that, they no longer have a relationship.

Comparison of Matthew and Meursault

At first glance, these characters may seem very similar. They both exhibit feelings of indifference about love, family, and life itself but they are ultimately very different. Meursault and Matthew are both ready to marry a woman they aren’t in love with, neither displays any attachment to their families and by the end of the book, they are both fully prepared to die. The cause for this indifference is what sets these characters apart.

Meursault is indifferent because he doesn’t assign any greater meaning to life. Unlike most people, he doesn’t see a need to fall in love or sustain familial ties and this comes off as a lack of emotion. He is ready to die when he is sentenced because he doesn’t find importance in living.

Matthew’s indifference is the result of his father’s abuse. He is prepared to marry Maria and run away with her and escape. He is looking to get out of his abusive household and create his ideal family. His unattachment to family stems from his experience with abuse and he is ready to die at the end because he is looking for a way out and uses the grenade as a last resort.

Indifference is present in both of these characters but it is caused by different things.

The White Gaze

The white gaze is a concept describing the way the general white population views something. While it is not a concern for every person of color, it is not uncommon to worry about it. In world that gives white people power over others, many people are socialized to believe they need to appeal to them as a means of survival.

In “A Conversation About Bread”, the white gaze affects Brian and Eldwin very differently. Eldwin doesn’t put much thought into how white people perceive him but it is a constant thought for Brian. While in the library, Brian remains acutely aware of the white woman observing them, yet Eldwin pays her no mind.

Eldwin wants to illustrate the truth about a specific experience but Brian is worried about how it will be interpreted by his majority white audience. He is afraid that the story will negatively impact the white opinion.

Brian gives the white gaze power over him because he grew up in a world that gives white people power over him.

Benjamin Reflection

Benjamin’s theory illustrates the power dynamic reflected in many binaries that exist in everyday life, like the relationship between boss and employee. She explains that in order for someone to have power over another, someone has to submit. With money as an incentive, employees willingly follow orders from their bosses. The boss has no physical control over the actions of their employees, but because the employees choose to listen the boss can dictate what they do throughout their shift. Understanding this theory makes it possible to recognize the different power structures in life and potentially dismantle harmful ones. The relationship between boss and employee isn’t innately harmful but many power dynamics are and cannot be addressed without knowing how they are maintained.