Bathroom Buddies

The novel, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy exhibits some tendencies of the twins, Rahel and Estha, through a particularly unique scene of the Ipe family at the cinema. Before heading to watch the film, the family splits up to go to the restroom, Estha is directed to go alone while Ammu, Baby Kochamma, and Rahel go together. The significance of this passage was more specific to developing and reflecting the traits of the characters which would account for their actions later in the novel. 

When Rahel sets foot into the restroom, Ammu and Baby Kochamma help her to relieve herself by holding her up above the pot. As Rahel is held up by her mother and baby grandaunt they have a little moment of laughter as Ammu is trying to mimic the urinating sound. Then while Baby Kochamma takes her turn Rahel thinks to herself that she “liked all this. Holding the handbag. Everyone pissing in front of everyone. Like friends’’ (91). Rahel values the time she spends with the people she loves although they may disapprove of her. She feels secure in a vulnerable environment with others while Estha, on the other hand, feels, or at least tries to be more comfortable alone. 

When Estha enters the restroom he faces a problem at the urinal, he is too short. He rectifies this issue by organizing some cans he found sitting on the ground in front of the urinal to stand on top of. The book states that Estha “stood on them, one foot on each, and pissed carefully with minimal wobble. Like a Man” (92). Through this action we can see that Estha wants to be seen as more mature and tries to present more grown, physically and mentally. Ammu confirms his act when Estha leaves the restroom to join the women. Ammu states that she “felt a sudden clutch of love for her reserved dignified little son in his beige and pointy shoes, who had just completed his first adult assignment” (93). Ammu is able to feel the matured energy from Estha which can explain why Baby Kochamma saw him as the ‘responsible’ and ‘practical’ twin when he was selected to confirm an identity for the inspector later in the novel.

Loyal to a World Lacking in it

In King Lear, Cordelia, Lear’s daughter, is banished as the result of her father’s misinterpretation of her loyalty. Right from the beginning scene of the play, Lear asks his daughters to make clear to him how much they loved him for pieces of the country’s land. As Regan and Goneril, his other daughters, expressed their false claims of love, Cordelia was troubled with how she would display her loyalty and fondness for her father. On Cordelia’s turn she insisted that she would not comply with her father’s demand as she explained that it was a deceitful method for her sisters to exploit their father’s compassion. She says, “I return those duties back as are right fit: Obey you, love you, and most honor you. Why have my sisters husbands if they say they love you all?” (I.I.106-110). She questions how her sisters are able to fully love Lear if they have husbands to love. Cordelia explains how she is able to completely give herself over to Lear as she has no one else to give herself too in contrast to her sisters who have husbands. Cordelia has an unconditional love for her father as she explains is greater than what her sisters can prove to him through words because she recognizes her sisters deceiving scheme. Loyalty is clearly shown in this first scene although Lear is not able to interpret it in a level headed manner which he later looks back upon and regrets.

Riding Passenger with Rich Brian

Rich Brian, a young Indonesian rapper, songwriter, and record producer, has put out 3 albums ever since his debut single, Dat $tick, came out in 2016. While signed under 88rising, a music recording company that focuses on Asian artists, he produced his second album The Sailor with 12 tracks depicting his journey from internet sensation to musical artist. The fifth track of the album, “Drive Safe” has been recognized as one of his more moving pieces as he is more vulnerable, expressing his “voyage” post-heartbreak. 

In the first verse Brian comments on his prospective future as a growing artist then switches focus, in the second verse, to his longing for the presence of his “love interest” again. He reiterated through the song that he recognizes that he had gotten lost in his pursuit of his musical dream and wants to caution the love interest and his audience. He wants individuals to be conscious of how they conduct their business while they chase their dreams, making sure to recognize how their actions may affect others. Brian uses metaphors, alliteration, and similes to depict his external and internal challenges.

The first line:

Feeling left out from the pack, you gotta, go rogue

Brian expresses his distinctive feeling, from progressing from an online phenomenon to a musician, through a metaphor between him and wolves’ system of survival. He indicates his realization of the growth in his career as well as the feeling of estrangement as he was leaving a part of his origin and area of comfort behind. He compares himself to wolves using the word “pack” which symbolizes his online persona he held before starting to “go rogue”, transitioning to music professionally. He seems to recognize that his past had been holding him back as he was growing which, by separating “from the pack” it helped push him forward and elevate his career. The connection that wolves have in a pack is very strong, knowing they must trust in one another to keep the other safe but when one starts to put less faith in another, the dynamic is impacted. Although the departure of a wolf can affect an entire pack, it can also open the doors to new experiences for the “rogue wolf”. With Brain, his connections to his roots as an internet sensation is comforting and has helped him grow but as he matures and decides to put his confidence in music, specifically the development in it, he will be able to flourish and create a new “pack”. 

Brian’s second verse:

Live life thinkin’ why it’s goin’ so slow

Lookin’  at the clock, wonderin’ why my mama’s not home

You  waited way too long

The two uses of alliteration helps exaggerate how time is influencing Brian.  Focusing first on the words, “live life” and “lookin”, it can be drawn that Brian has a distinct connection with the changing of time. He acknowledged that time is passing but by adding the words, “why” and “waited way” he offers his confusion to where the time has gone. 

A simile from the second verse:

Polaroid photos looking like a movie scene (Ayy)

This pieces together the capturing of a real moment to a fictional one. This reflects his struggle of differentiating the “good times” he had with the love interest. The “good times” he spent with the love interest is starting to look made up like a movie scene which can build upon the idea that his focus on his career had made him disregard the ones around him, giving reason to why he reiterates the point to be aware of your actions and how they will affect the ones around you. 

Status Migrant

Being a migrant, presumptions and aspects of their being can typically be assumed, but the more perspectives one is able to obtain, the better their understanding and outlook can be formed to create a more equal recognition of the other beings. In the novel Exit West written by Mohsin Hamid, he narrates the story of migrants who are trying to escape from the violent conflict in their country. He represents the migrants,  in general, in conflicting perspectives, showing them on one side of a situation, as powerful or the other, lacking power. Hamid describes the migrants’ reaction to the arsenal used by the military, stating that they “were frightening, because [the arsenal] suggested an unstoppable efficiency, an inhuman power” (154). Hamid puts forth the perspective of the government’s forces as the callous and brutal “predators”, who assert an overpowering threat upon the migrants who he shows as the weak and defenseless “prey”. Hamid’s depiction of the migrants’ dominant opponent, who, in teasing the migrants, initiates a feeling of dread and uneasiness for them, helped portray their lack of power and vulnerability against the government’s power. 

When the migrants are narrated as powerful, Hamid writes, “[F]or armed resistance would likely lead to a slaughter, and nonviolence was surely their most potent response, shaming their attackers into civility” (154). A collaboration of ideas between the migrants in Saeed and Nadia’s neighborhood is arranged, they seek to protect their youths as well as their morals. The council determines that they will guilt their oppressors into realizing the unreasonable efforts of their attack. They are able to fight their opponents psychologically instead of physically, which they knew would fail in taking control and dominance of the situation as well as compromise their morals. In presenting these contrasting representations, it sheds light on experiences that diverge from the typical binary, adding to the unconventional perspective for migrants, and giving notice to the more authentic side of being a migrant.

Marie’s Testimony

In part two of The Stranger, Albert Camus describes Meursault’s experience throughout the trial. We are taken through the testimonies of several people along with Celeste, Meursault’s friend and Marie, his “love interest”. 

At first she seems like an open book, she willingly gives details of their relationship and a key date that the prosecutor points out “was the day after Maman died” (93). This provided some weight to the prosecution’s debate in Meursault’s lack of emotion or reaction to his mother’s death as earlier mentioned by the director and caretaker. Marie had unintentionally played into their hands, further strengthening their argument and in the process hurting Meursault’s defence. 

The prosecution continues on by having Marie explain what they had done on that day. In this instance she understood that she must be cautious of what she would say knowing the weight of her words could hurt Meursault. Additionally she also seems a bit reluctant to give out details possibly because she wanted to keep the memories only to herself and Meursault.

When asked what movie they had watched that day Meursault describes that “[i]n an almost expressionless voice she did in fact tell the court that it was a Fernandel film” (94). Fernandel films are known to be comical and providing this detail, Marie is seen accepting the consequences of her actions. She recognizes her doing and is now burdened with the knowledge that she has aided in the downfall of her partner.

French Smoke

Reading part one of The Stranger, originally written in French by Albert Camus, I noticed the vast amount of smoking mentioned. It is well known that smoking is a culturally historic activity that many French residents and their youths partake in. As a result of Camus’ ability to incorporate a part of French culture in his novel, it has helped provide more insight into the characters’ background and nature. 

To make note of Albert Camus’ consistent mentions of the times Meursault, the narrator, smokes, he writes about a moment where he is hesitant to do so because “[he] didn”t know if [he] could do it with Maman right there” (8). In this moment Meursault is troubled with the decision of being imprudent knowing the conditions of the situation at hand. We can see here that the timely manner at which someone smokes in the story aids in providing a better understanding of a character’s frame of mind.

Typically smoking can be seen as a careless and unconscious activity that one may participate in but in another can be presented as a sign of disrespect. Near the end of the fourth chapter, Meursault’s neighbor, Raymond, is interrupted by a police officer amidst the beating of his mistress saying, “Take that cigarette out of your mouth when you’re talking to me…then the cop slapped him” (36).  Here, the presence of the cigarette dispensed an insulting impression of Raymond to the police officer. We can further infer that smoking has a noticeably large impact in the perception and mutual recognition of us towards others and vice versa.