We All Have Our Tobacco Tins

In Chapter 10 of Beloved, the narrator explains, “It was some time before [Paul D] could put Alfred, Georgia, Sixo, schoolteacher, Halle, his brothers, Sethe, Mister, the taste of iron, the sight of butter, the smell of hickory, notebook paper, one by one, into the tobacco tin lodged in his chest. By the time he got to 124 nothing in this world could pry it open” (Morrison).

Paul D grew up as a slave at Sweet Home. Although he is no longer a slave, he is burdened with the terrible memories of his past. Instead of dealing with these memories and emotions, he instead chooses to repress them and lock them deep inside of him.

In 2019, although we have not suffered through slavery, many of us have gone through traumatic experiences in our lives. Different people have different ways of coping with these experiences, but a common method is to avoid dealing with them all together. It can be easier to pretend that they don’t exist than to face the issue head on and the pain that inevitably comes with. Each of us would be lying if we said we had never once repressed a painful memory and locked it into our own personal tobacco tins. But as it is demonstrated in Beloved, there really is no escaping our pasts.

How Exit West Confronts the Inevitable Changes that Come With Time

At the beginning of Exit West, it seemed to be, for the most part, the typical story about a boy and a girl, falling in love, and facing challenges together as their love evolved. Saeed and Nadia met during a time of crisis in their country. Together, they faced war, death, and countless other challenges that seemed to bring them closer. They relied on each other to get through this time of great turmoil. I really expected their love to grow as they faced more and more challenges. But as the book continued, I realized I was wrong.

As they transported to different places around the world, they seemed to gradually grow apart. The crazy new places changed each of them in different ways and by the end of the book, they found it best to go their separate ways. This made me sad because it is not typical in a book for two lovers to grow apart in this way. In fact, I found this story even more sad than tragedies in which one or both of the lovers die. It wasn’t some external source that suddenly prevented them from being together. It was simply the passage of time that prompted their falling out of love. It was nothing that either of them did wrong. Life happens. Change is inevitable.

In Exit West, magical doors take our lovers to new destinations. Although there are no magical doors in real life, there are a countless amount of things that have a similar impact. For example, moving to a new house, or getting a new job. Changes like these are to be expected. But what people are scared to accept is that they have a drastic impact on who we are as people. We have to learn to accept that with time comes change. We will constantly be losing old friends and gaining new ones. There is nothing we can do other than adapt.

Why the Idea of Existentialism is so Absurd

After hearing Mr. Heidkamp’s lecture about existentialism, I didn’t know how to feel. Everything I had ever known to be true in my life was suddenly being questioned. It was hard for me to believe that the things I considered meaningful were simply just lies that humans created to avoid confronting the harsh realities of life.

Having English 1st period, this conversation about existentialism stuck with me for the rest of the day. I was constantly trying to wrap my head around the idea. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided that in no way do I agree with the concepts of existentialism. And here is why: Existentialists believe that the loving relationships people form are not what give meaning to life. In fact, they believe that these relationships prevent people from living at their fullest potential. I find this hard to believe because from the moment we are born, we develop these types of relationships with our mothers and fathers, and with the people we meet as we grow up. No one teaches us to love or to care for others. It is a natural human phenomenon.

Rather, I think that the concept of Existentialism was created as a coping mechanism for people who are unsatisfied with their lives. It is an excuse to not feel and not care about things that are not going as well as one would have hoped. This seems to be the case for Meursault in The Stranger. Instead of mourning the death of his mother, he acted indifferent about it. Similarly, during his trial, he didn’t seem to care whether or not he was charged as guilty. Throughout the book, we see many instances in which Meursault avoids confronting the emotions he should be feeling. Then, when he is sentenced to death, Meursault explodes and all his emotions come out all at once in the form of anger and hatred.

To me, the ending of The Stranger seems to reveal the inevitable result of existentialism. Although Meursault stuck with his existentialist mindset through the book, his behavior in the last few moments proves that no good will ultimately come out of existentialism.

How “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” Relates to the Modern Obsession with Appearance.

In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”, although the people take great interest in the man who fell from the sky, they are quick to dismiss him as a real angel solely based on his appearance.

When Pelayo and Elisenda first discover the angel, the first thing they do is point out the flaws in his appearance: “There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of of a drenched great-grandfather had taken away any sense of grandeur he might have had” (Marquez 354). Their first impression of the angel is only about how he looks at first glance. Even with his enormous wings that should most definitely indicate that he is a magical being, they assume he is a castaway from a ship. This is all because the old man did not fit the typical description that is associated with an angel.

Just as Pelayo and Elisenda make assumptions based on the appearance of the old man, the media today similarly overemphasizes appearance. Every model in magazines or on social media has physical features that people are expected to strive for. If people do not fit the stereotype for the “ideal” appearance, the media makes it seem as though they are imperfect. This unrealistic expectation for physical appearance makes people, especially teenagers who are heavily influenced by social media, unhappy with how they look. In a time when appearance has been prioritized over other characteristics of a person, it can be easy to lose sight of what really matters.