Trauma & Emotion

Throughout elementary and middle school, I was only told about the life of slaves who died as a slave, and the work that Harriet Tubman did with the Underground Railroad. That’s it. The worst part is, I didn’t even think about the fact that there are so many other sides and points of view of slavery besides those two. Beloved shed light on an embarrassingly new area for me, telling the story of a slave who escaped and began her life outside the confinement of slavery.

Even though Sethe in Beloved did end up escaping and gave birth to her child, her story falls nothing short of traumatic. Toni Morrison uses an array of symbols and motifs to reflect the past in the current, real life of Sethe. I believe that both the ghost and reincarnated (?) form of Beloved is the biggest symbol of all, as she is a real figure that triggers memories and scenes from Sethe’s past. I also believe that one of the biggest takeaways Toni Morrison would want her readers to gain is the true effect and aftermath of living life after being a slave, a life that most people nowadays would ever even be able to imagine. She shows the differing emotional impact this traumatic life had through many characters, but especially highlights the difference between Paul D and Sethe, as they shared a similar experience. Paul D compresses his feelings and they eat away at him. He feels that his role is to be strong and someone to lean on, which includes sacrificing his own needs in the process. Sethe has strong emotions and shows many of her flashback memories to the reader, she is clearly facing serious emotional damage which will stay with her for the rest of her life.

“Trust” vs. The Stranger

“Trust” is a movie revolving around absurdity and a dialogue that strays away from the norm. Although I gathered that The Stranger is a work of literature that also shows the theme of absurdity and randomness, “Trust” is different.

In The Stranger, Meursault says things and does things purely for the reason of it making sense in that particular situation. In “Trust”, Maria proves to be a very strong-headed, confrontational young woman who speaks her mind and goes for what she wants, exactly when she wants it. This characterization is hugely different than that of Meursault. Maria, although young, seems to be ahead of her time and very mature. Starting in the very beginning of the film, she is faced with a pregnancy and left to deal with this issue without much assistance. The fact that the movie begins this way helps to develop Maria’s characterization and the characterization of others in the film by contrasting them with Maria.

The absurdity found in “Trust” is partly due to the circumstances that the characters find themselves in. For example, in society today, I don’t think that the average person would invite a teenage girl whom they found in an abandoned area, and who just finished an entire 6 pack of beer, into their home to spend the night. Although this movie came out 30 years ago and times are slightly different now, this is absurd to me and many events before and after this show the absurdity portrayed in the film.

A Life of Social Construct & The Stranger

The overlying theme of existentialism is prominent and vivid throughout the novel The Stranger, yet it is also prominent in the lives of everyone in society. Although it’s a hard pill to swallow, especially for me, I realized that my life is made up entirely of systems of power and a series of social constructs which define my everyday life and every single relationship that I have ever had.

During the initial lecture on existentialism, I was in denial and I couldn’t accept that everything that truly mattered to me and added “meaning” to my life are all just constructs and illusions that are deeply rooted in my individual self and in everyone around me. I recognize that no matter how rich, successful, famous, or happy you are, EVERYONE goes through immense pain and suffering throughout their entire lives. I would like to think that I can find meaning in those things that make me happy in addition to things that have caused me pain and have caused me to suffer.

Learning about this theory/concept definitely made me see things from a new perspective, but I wouldn’t say that it necessarily diminished the meaning that I find from different aspects of my life or the things that are most important to me. Although love may be a construct of my imagination, as well as friendship, education, etc., I don’t know what or where I would be without them. I feel as though, as humans, we find comfort in these constructs and add structure to our lives.

Interdependence & Power Dynamics in “Bloodchild”

Following my initial reading of the story “Bloodchild”, I was shocked, and couldn’t quite wrap my head around the true “point”, or a true theme, within the story. I noted the peculiarity of the concept of a male pregnancy, and the power dynamic between the Tlic and the Terrans.

Interdependence was one of the biggest underlying themes that I took away from this story. The general interactions between the Tlic and the Terrans, as well as the dependence of the Tlic depending on the Terrans for hosting their spawns and the Terrans depending on the Tlic for governance and nutrients and extended longevity from Tlic eggs, all contribute to the interdependent society that they live in. Although some may argue that the Tlic are abusing their power and are harmfully using the Terrans to host their young, there is no doubt that there are things given and taken from both parties.

Regarding the power dynamics within the story, the idea that the Tlic are indeed receiving more from the Terrans than they are giving is a concept worth exploring. Personally, I feel that you could make an argument for either side, as there are both pros and cons to their societal relationship. The image of a young boy, Bram Lomas, in a state of unconciousness and in immense pain, hurts the reputation of the Tlic and displays them in a harmful, negative light. Gan is then pressured to slaughter an animal, something he has never done before, in order to save a life that was not his responsibility to save. On the opposing side, the Terrans consume the eggs provided for them by the Tlic in order to receive luxeries such as longevity and a youthful appearance.

In summary, “Bloodchild” captures an interdependent society, whether it was truly equal or not. The varying power dynamics shown throughout the story contribute to characterization and display the interesting differences in this society versus the society we live in today.