GOST Helped Me Rediscover My Love of Writing

I used to love to write fiction. When I was little, writing scary stories or a silly poem could captivate me for hours. However, I learned to hate writing as soon as it became an assignment and teachers gave me a strict template to follow.

I found that the writing of The God of Small Things is different. Roy writes with no constraints on her sentence structure, her timeline, and the point of views she uses, and yet she is praised for her amazing writing. This boundless writing is exemplified in the passage below,

“Steelshrill police whistles pierced holes in the Noise Umbrella. Through the jagged umbrella holes Rahel could see pieces of red sky. And in the red sky, hot red kites wheeled, looking for rats. In their hooded yellow eyes there was a road and redflags marching. And a white shirt over a black boy with a birthmark. Marching (76). “

In this passage, two of the sentences are incomplete, two begin with “and”, and one is in passive voice. These structural issues would be something I would get points off for, that I would be deemed a sloppy writer for, but Roy is celebrated for it. It works.

The passage above also shows Roy’s tendency to over-describe, to ramble on sentences, adding extra clauses, to shove in extra details. I liked this style of writing, so I began to write my own story without bounds, just like Roy did. I experimented with perspective, detail, and incomplete sentences, and I found joy in doing so.

Thank you Roy for helping me make this quarantine a little less boring.

On the train

Years before I read a very profound article on a magazine and it was called “on the train.” The story stated author’s experience on the train of a business trip. Since he came alone, he felt extremely boring about the trip, at last, he decided to make friends with the people on the train to kill the time. His eyes first fixed on a young man on the opposite side of his seat who seems shared a similar age with him. When he was thinking how to start the conversation, the young man opened his phone and started checking the social medias. Then, he looked around and recognized a beauty was sitting beside him. He recovered his energy and tried to speak as gentlemanlike as he could, but after his cordial introduction of himself, he didn’t receive any reply. Then, he saw a black string down her long hair. So she was enjoying the music and tried to separate herself from the carriage, he thought. However, he still didn’t give up, he stood up and walked towards an amiable old man who just like his father. To his surprise, as the old man saw him moving towards himself, he hid his handbag behind him and face his body to the window. This made the author felt very awkward and discouraged. He slightly shook his head and arrived at the back of the train. He lighted up a cigarette and sighed heavily. At the same moment, a little boy came, grasped his pants who can hardly speak but still bravely opened his mouth and asked:”Mr, are the big tall trees over there called oak tree?”

The story itself is very short and precise. It shows authors wish for communicating with people gets discouraged several times. His feeling grows from the initial excitement, to boredness that lets him want to talk to someone, to discouragement and finally to distress. The best part of the story is the insertion of a little boy who just learned how to speak at the end. The author used the radiant boy compare to those indifferent adults to emphasize the problems in nowadays society. That’s a satire towards not only the people on the train who refused to communicate with others but also the wry modern world. It should be a happy thing that the technologies become advanced, but it also become an obstacle between people. We choose to chat with those we familiar with online instead of encountering others in the reality. We watched the horrible news about robbery, theft, and killings on the television and assumed those back lucks also may happen on us. We scared and shook at home and separated ourselves from the whole world. The author used this specific article to tell us that all these behaviors are wrong. We should always be positive, keep a curiosity of the life like the little boy and discovery the beauties in the world. Even though we are scared about, we got hurt in this cruel world, we should never give up our hope like the author who keeps endeavoring and finally find the people that are willing to talk to him.

No matter how dark the world is becoming, the darkness should never get into our hearts.

Alone on the train

Did Nadia And Saeed Ever Love Each Other?

In the story Exit West by Mohsin Hamid shows that in the extreme and deadly city Nadia and Saeed seem to fall in love based on normal reasons for example behavior and looks. As the war increases and spreads further into the city causing deaths you see a change in the relationship between the young couple. The relationship becomes more forced like when Saeed’s mother passes away and no one speaks much it began to set a principle for dislocated conversations and communication. When Nadia promised Saeed’s dad to stay with him she made this promise until they made it to a new piece of land through the doors Saeed meets a prests daughter that he began to like and the same went for Nadia; this shows that even though a war and through a promise neither off the two characters actually felt true love but a need to want to be together only to reach a place for them to be able to find their way and be able to leave each other in separate worlds as they were before they meet .

Why Bloodchild Could be a Major Motion Picture

While reading the short story that my group presented on, Bloodchild. I could not help but picture it as a Hollywood major motion picture or an episode of Black Mirror. Black Mirror episodes take a part of human life and criticize it, by dramatizing certain behaviors that humans engage in, and showing how this plays out in an often not so distant future. Bloodchild is the perfect example of this. One of the most important political issues of this generation is abortion rights. A small group of powerful men are making decisions about something that they will never have to experience. They have all the power, and they are often making decisions, (such as restricting abortion rights), that negatively impact others.

The “Tlic”, the alien life forms that have taken control of humans, restricted their rights to drive, own weapons, and many other basic freedoms. This comes most severely at the expense of the men, who are forced to carry the Tlic’s babies, and have them violently removed at the time when they are ready to be born. Sound familiar? This completely flips the script on one of the most heavy political debates of our time.

Existentialism and its Relation to Isolation

Existentialists value the rejection of standard social constructs as a pillar of humanity, but this conviction can be extremely ostracizing. Unfortunately, while leading an existentialist life may be personally liberating, it is extremely unpopular. Outside of those who share in the existentialist ideology, an existentialist would have quite a difficult time fitting into society. In The Stranger, Mersault keeps everyone at an arm’s distance. He has some friends (Marie, Raymond), but it is very clear to the reader that Mersault isn’t particularly close to these people. The reason behind this is because Mersault’s outlook on life holds him from coexistence. He can no longer understand conventional societal norms.

Existentialism isn’t an ideology for the social. Its lonely, and besides the perceived personal freedom, it could ultimately be unrewarding. It is difficult to judge whether or not existentialism is truly worth the effort. Sure, you may have a new outlook on life, but said outlook immediately puts you on the outside looking in to society. The norms that existentialists reject are pillars of mainstream society. Existentialism imprisons one in their own mind, as they can no longer willingly be apart of a society that contradicts their beliefs. By choosing a path of existentialism, one creates a cycle of rejection. By rejecting societal constructs and norms, society will reject the existentialist right back.

“Groundhog Day” as an Existentialist Film

The movie “Groundhog Day” is about a man, Phil Connors, who has a bad outlook on life. But by some fluke of nature, Phil ends up repeating the same Groundhog Day over and over. At first, Phil is confused, and keeps repeating his actions every day so that they are the same, in case the next day is not a repeat of the last. But then, Phil begins to realize that he can act however he wants and there will be no consequences because there will be “no tomorrow.” He begins to break many social and societal constructs, basically doing whatever he wants because he knows there will be no repercussions. He ends up becoming happier and having a better outlook on life once he begins doing this. He has a new level of freedom that he did not have before.

Image result for groundhog day

One particularly interesting thing about “Groundhog Day” is that it portrays a positive view of existentialism. I think it’s easy for many people to say existentialists are simply pessimistic and refuse to see any good in life. “Groundhog Day” refutes all these statements. Phil begins the movie tied to societal constructs meant to give life meaning. After repeating the same day over and over again, Phil is set free from these constructs. He no longer fears society’s judgement of his actions. And only when he gets this freedom is he truly happy in the movie. Although existentialism is, on one level, about trying to shy away from things we traditionally think gives value to our lives, it’s also about the freedom we can acquire from living without these social constructs.

One other connection that I think must be made here is the connection of “Groundhog Day” and Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus.” Much like Sisyphus, Phil must repeat the same day, pushing his “boulder” up the hill, just for the day to repeat or the boulder to fall back down the hill. But Phil begins to recognize the absurdity of life as he repeats his days, just as Camus says Sisyphus must accept the absurdity of life as he pushes his boulder. Camus says that once you realize how absurd life is, you can find amusement and even happiness in its absurdity. This is why he proposes that Sisyphus is happy, and this is why Camus would also consider Phil to be happy as well.

Existentialism in “Dead Poets Society”

When reading “The Stranger,” by Albert Camus, the vivid exemplification of existentialism in the novel, and its embodiment in the protagonist, Meursault, reminded me of a recent movie I had seen. Meursault’s complete detachment from social norms and societal constructions was reminiscent of the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” by Peter Weir.

In the movie, Robin William’s character, John Keating, plays an English teacher at a rigirous and strict private school. However unlike the other teacher’s at the school, Keating does not believe in textbooks and rating literature on a graph. He tells the students to take the pages of their textbook and rip them out because they are meaningless. He even disregards the societal rules by telling everyone to stand on their desks.

Just like Meursault, Keating’s unorthodox manner does not go over well with the rest of society. The schoolmaster is offended and upset with Keating for not teaching correctly, or in other words, following the social construct of what a teacher should be. As as result he is fired and the kids are assigned a new teacher. The kids of course were engaged and actually cared about the subject when Keating was teacher, so they were devastated when he was fired.

In both works, existentialism is rejected by society, and they are both worse off for it. If only society could understand and adopt the construct-free way of life then everyone would be better of because of it.

Is Finding Happiness in Punishment an Inevitability?

In “the Myth of Sisyphus”, Camus forms the argument that Sisyphus has found happiness within his eternity of pushing a rock up a hill. After finally letting go of his memories of life, he accepts his current situation and finds joy in completing the hard task of pushing the rock up the hill (even though it falls down again).

In the Stranger, Merseaux states that after he lets go of the pleasures of the past and adapts to prison, it is actually quite enjoyable. It takes a bit of time to adjust, but eventually he does.

The question I that I pose is: is finding this happiness an inevitability for everyone? If so, is finding that joy in punishment then just a matter of time?

I would argue that it is not an inevitability for everyone. Some people will never let go of the memories and pleasures that they used to enjoy. They will always reap in their belief that they should be somewhere else.

Why The Elephant Never Mattered

In “The Elephant Vanishes” by Haruki Murakami, An elderly elephant disappears from a suburb outside of Tokyo, but none of it matters. The elephant came into the ownership of the town through somewhat comedic means, and even though it caused quite the uproar for some time, the elephant was never more than an amusing oddity to the town. When the elephant disappears along with its keeper, the town sinks into a temporary state of mass hysteria, but as blame is thrown to just about anyone, the town slowly forgets about the elephant.

Our main character, despite his passion for keeping up on the happenings on this elephant, unfortunately slips back into the functions of everyday life. In time, it is clearly shown that everyone forgets, or wants to forget, about this elephant. Why do they forget? Because the elephant has no significance to them. It’s an oddity; a conversation starter. What did the elephant ever contribute to the town besides some possible publicity? It was simply an abandoned animal, and why the main character ever cared is an illusion.

At the time of the disappearance, there was a lot of attention given to the elephant. There were multiple high class investigations, and it even led to some political unrest. Even though all of these things seem significant, they made no change on the state of the suburb or those living in it. Our main character still went to his day job just like everyone else, and life moved on. The suburb before and after the elephant was the same. The status quo remained the status quo.

Is Mutual Recognition Achieved in “Secret Woman”

In the short story “Secret Woman” by Sidonie Gabrielle Collete is about how a Husband finds out that his wife is not as perfect as he originally perceived her as. Throughout the story, the husband viewed his wife as perfect and innocent up until he caught her at a sexual mascarade party interacting with different people. He never thought that she would come to the party since she wrote off the invite but, in return caused the husband to walk away from her without her noticing his presence in the party.

To me, the idea of the husband walking away shows that he has come to terms with her not being whom she portrayed her self as throughout the story. the husband found mutual recognition since he realized that she was not the “almond” like women that he used to love but the very complex women with “Satanic hands” that he witnessed in the mascarade party. This shows that the wife is much more than just a stereotypical woman but a more free person and that when she is around her husband she has a mask on to hide her differences and characteristics that he is uncomfortable with.

I also feel that mutual recognition is found when the husband begins to follow his wife around the party waiting to see what man she came to the party to see and finds that she is alone but still with everyone physically. He finds that his wife is capable of doing things on her own without a dominating figure above her head controlling her every move.

Therefore the husband had no choice but to respect and understand that his wife was no longer under his control and that she was able to do whatever she felt she needed at that moment. It also made the husband realize that even he was living a lie for lying to his wife but lying to himself that his wife was perfect.

It Isn’t Just in Your Head, the Mutual Recognition of “Escape from Spiderhead”

George Saunders’ piece, “Escape from Spiderhead,” conveys an essential message that appears at the end of the reading as Jeff, our narrator, reflects on his past and lets go of his struggles.

“Escape from Spiderhead” takes place in a futuristic prison clinical that test new drugs on criminals instead of having the criminals put into an ordinary jail. The reading follows along with Jeff’s perspective and his thoughts about the events he endures. Jeff experiences a particular experiment, which tests his morals, and he learns more about himself and other than every before.

The specific drug tested, in the time we are with Jeff, is a drug that makes two random strangers fall entirely in love without having been interested before. Furthermore, the drug can turn off the passion, drug-influenced or not. In the beginning, there is no resistance and maybe even some enjoyment, but it starts to make Jeff question many things. He doubts the reality of love and reflects the emotions felt, were they even real? Matters are made more difficult for Jeff as the scientists force him into furthering the experiment to prove the drug to be successful.

Through the experiment, Jeff reflects on his feelings towards others as human beings, compassionate, sympathetic, and understanding. He sees them as his equal even after discovering the horrifying crime they had committed. Jeff’s recognition toward them grew more present over time. It isn’t until the experiment is taking too far that Jeff realizes the truth he has been missing.

During the time of the trial and his “fateful night,” Jeff’s mother had always been there for him, protecting him and trying to put him in a better place. Even after Jeff was convicted, his mom still saw him as a human similarly to how Jeff saw the others during the experiment.

Overall, some may assume mutual recognition is seen when Jeff connects with his fellow mates. But it is not until the end when Jeff decides his fate and thinks of his mother and himself as not a criminal anymore. It is the relationship between mother and son that has evidence of seeing each other as equals and human beings that makes mutual recognition visible.

“Black Box” and the Questionable Empowerment of Women

On the surface, Black Box seems like a short story that does a good job of empowering women through the decisions they make, specifically being a spy and helping the government gain information on high profile criminals. However, through the use certain words such as “Beauty”, and the involvement of our narrator’s husband, there seems to be slight ambiguity in what our author was trying to convey.

To begin with, it seems that the use of the word “Beauty” is used to describe all young women. That is only one word, and it can be taken that calling someone a beauty reduces a girl to one aspect. That is degrading to females because it takes all other aspects out of them. They are only seen as beauties and nothing else. On top of that, it is said that “Posing as a beauty means not reading what you like to read on a rocky shore in the South of France.” This quote is one of many that shows that beauties are supposed to not do what they want, and solely have to listen to what their Designated Mate wants. If this is the case, then why does the author refer to all young women as beauties, and not just the spies. I feel like this means that our author is actually in a way being degrading.

When you look at how the narrator talks about her husband, it also seems that she is taking part in this program not because she wanted to, but more because her husband wanted her to. This is taking away from her decision, and is implying that she can’t make her own decision. the quote “You will reflect on the fact that America is your husband’s chosen country and he loves it.” This quote makes it seem that she is partaking in this because of her husband’s allegiance to his country. These quotes, plus many more throughout the story, prove the ambiguity the author makes when trying to empower women.

Secret Woman: FOUND

Throughout Secret Woman, a short story by Colette, there are surprisingly few secrets, especially concerning Irene, the main subject of the story and the narrator’s wife.

The nature of short stories makes telling any tale with great detail a monumental undertaking. To skirt along this limit, Colette chose instead to pursue a single scene of a longer story with enough detail that it sends a message by its lonesome.

She then proceeds to descriptively sculpt all of Irene’s indulgements for the night leaving the reader with very little that is hidden or inconclusive about the so-called “Secret Woman”. Colette portrays the narrator as disgusted and seemingly uninterested in his wife after he realizes the scope of her secondary personality, but the diction of the story in many cases suggests that the wife isn’t quite reliant on her husband for support and can take care of her self.

I would contend that the story is centered around the idea that only the husband thought he was special, and the contrast between his self perception and how his wife actually views him.

“Victory Lap” and our Inability to Humanize the “Enemy”

Pieces of writing nowadays can take us through many different perspectives and points of view. We can see through the eyes of a schoolgirl from the 1800’s, a stockbroker during the great depression, or just your average teenager. But, what we don’t often get to see through are the eyes of those we are pitted against.

What surprised me the most about “Victory Lap”, looking past the very interesting characters and detailed plot line, was the writers choice to have a part of the story be told from the point of view of the assailant. We are often fed the backstory of a villain as a way to pick out his or her motives from the short list that is usually given (revenge, jealousy, etc.). We can infer from that a carefully and (often) simple narrative of why they do what they do. But, what is not always presented is the full perspective. This could include shows of emotional response, less relevant personal information, or even just a glimpse into how their mind actually functions. It is almost as if we are afraid to give these villains (or whatever you’d call them) full access to the human spectrum. We need to have an invisible wall between “us” and “them”.

Recently, these in depth narratives have been showing up more and more. What first comes to my mind are the surprisingly large number of Netflix documentaries focused on the backstories and minds of killers, depicting very detailed accounts of very gruesome topics and people. I think it’s interesting to see our society bringing awareness to the fact that these people are still human, and humans are capable of theses kinds of things. And, although it can be frightening to take down any walls that separate the “villains” from the “protagonists”, doing so can also provide insight into how certain actions come to be, and maybe even how they can be prevented.

“Cariboo Cafe” Levels of Delusion

The Cariboo Café, by Helena Marina Viramontes, tells a story about a unique small town through symbolism and the switching between multiple different perspectives. One of the defining characteristics of the story is the three different narrators. The part of the story that intrigued me the most was the structure. The fiction starts out in the perspective of Sonya who is locked out of her house with her little brother. Since Sonya is from an immigrant family she is told that she has to live under the radar and that her only safe space is her house. While she is drifting off into her thoughts, her brother is brought up. Sonya’s life has pretty much revolved around her little brother Macky. This little boy is her world and she realizes she needs to protect him. At this point in the story Macky didn’t seem very important but over time, he becomes the symbol that I am talking about.

Soon after the mention of Macky the perspective shifts to a cook who owns the Cariboo Café. The story dives deep into his background and how he lost his son Jojo. One night an old woman comes in with two kids who we later find out are Sonya and Macky. When the diner owner first meets them he has an instant connection with Macky. The reason he likes him so much is because he reminds him of his son Jojo. He favors Macky and treats him like a son. It’s almost like he sees Macky as Jojo for the few moments they’re in the diner together. The final perspective is the old woman who lost her son Geraldo, who was the same age as Macky. The old woman became really sad when her son was gone. Eventually that sadness turned into a mental issue. She started to believe she could get her son back (who was most likely dead). This all escalated to the actual kidnapping of Macky and Sonya. She placed Geraldo’s identity onto Macky and fully believed it was him. She also became really paranoid because the police were looking for the missing kids or her “Geraldo”. Since she knew what the police did to her Geraldo the first time, she had every right to be scared about them taking “her little boy”.

I view this story as the progression in delusion of the three people. The story starts out with Sonya who is Macky’s sister and ends with a woman who believes Macky is her son. It tells the same story through the eyes of three different people with three different levels of sanity. The order of the perspectives and delusion also show how pain can affect people. The amount of misery that the treatment of immigrants has caused on both Sonya’s family and the old woman is very clear in the story. The delusion is somewhat representative of what these immigrants have to go through. Sonya is very young so there hasn’t been much time for the pain to affect her; but the old woman has seen everything and has completely lost it. The amount of agony she has faced causes her to take another kid to make her feel okay again.

Playing Into Gender Stereotypes in “Black Box” and the Real World

In “Black Box”, women are taught to use how they are perceived as weapons. They purposely act clueless and obedient. This technique works because it plays into the preconceived notions that men have of women.

The “Beauties”, women contracted by the government to seduce and gain information from men, justify their actions by telling themselves that the information they are gathering is of the utmost importance and will save America. They do what they do because they think it is for the greater good.

By purposely acting ditzy and obedient, the Beauties are reinforcing negative stereotypes about women.

When I think about negative, harmful stereotypes, my mind immediately jumps to Hollywood. In film and television, stereotyping runs rampant. The girl who walks into the dark basement to investigate a mysterious sound dies, a woman who is focuses on her career doesn’t have time for love, businessman realizes he was in love with his secretary after she left him. There are a plethora of movie/TV stereotypes about women.

Although famous actresses often champion feminism, many of them continued taking one-dimensional roles. In Grease, Sandy changes everything about herself for a boy. In Jurassic World, Bryce Dallas Howard plays a career-oriented woman who is cautious of love. Actresses may only see the role as a part to play, they are helping perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Instead of gaining power, women are giving power to demeaning stereotypes, which in turn allow men who believe in those stereotypes continue with their actions.

Flipping the Tlic/Terran Binary

Something that I noticed while reading “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler was that the T’ often preceding Tlic names seemed to function as a title.  The T’ in T’Khotgif changes to Ch’ after she produces offspring as evidenced by T’Gatoi’s reference to her shortly after the birth: “‘T’Khotgif—Ch’Khotgif now’”(173).  

This may imply that these titles carry a sort of respect and formality, similarly to the way we would address our superiors as Mr, Ms, and Mrs.  If this is the case, then the way that characters in “Bloodchild” use these titles would tell us more about their relationships with their Tlic and the power dynamics that are implied.  

Before Lomas is cut open, he calls out for his Tlic, T’Khotgif, by her full name.  Gan recalls this later: “‘He said ‘T’Khotgif.’ ’ Qui shuddered. ‘If she had done that to me, she’d be the last person I’d call for.’” (171)

Qui, who is clearly uncomfortable with the Tlic, also refers to their family’s Tlic by her full name while asking Gan how he viewed their relationship “‘while T’Gatoi was picking worms out of that guy’s guts’” (172)

However, we see this binary being broken towards the end of the story when Gan addresses his Tlic, without the prefix.  This has an effect similar to using a teacher’s first name and signifies a shift in their relationship.

I believe this was intentional as Gan, frustrated and emotional from the situation, does it repeatedly while he challenges her: “‘Ask me, Gatoi.’” (174) and “‘There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.’” (175) While these quotes would have made sense without “Gatoi”, seeing this binary start to change as Gan begins to question her is quite powerful.

“No Beauty is Really a Beauty”

Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box” seems to comment on the role of women in a number of ways. First through her contrast of the agent and the “beauties” of the story, and also by revealing the circumstances of the agent, making the reader question whether or not her service is purely a self-motivated act of patriotism.

We find that in this world the purpose and goal of women is “to be a lovely, innocuous, evolving surprise” (16) Using the mask of gender, the narrator is able to go undetected in the highly patriarchal society, and more importantly to her “Designated Mate.” While she is initially portrayed as a subject, all the other beauties are objects, referred to by a quality of appearance and not personality or thought.

Egan may be revealing that underneath the appearances, all the women are much more than meets the eye, but her comment on society seems to dig much deeper when the reader considers why she is on the mission in the first place.

Through a number of context clues we can find that her ‘voluntary’ service may be motivated by more reasons than personal victory or sacrifice. For one, during intimate encounters, she repeats “Remind yourself that you aren’t being paid”(7), and she reflects that “America is your husband’s chosen country, and that he loves it”(15). Her husband is a high level engineer, creating a lot of the tech for this mission. This is indicates that she might have been persuaded to go, instead of really wanting to. Additionally, she mentions that she waited to have children until after the mission, causing me to wonder if that was her decision, or a trade-off that she has go on the mission before her husband will have kids with her.

Another important detail is that her father is a famous movie star who never knew she existed. Listing the reasons why she cannot die, she writes “You need to tell the movie star that he has an eighth child and that she is a hero”

“Reflect on the many reasons you can’t yet die:

You need to see your husband

You need to have children

You need to tell the movie star that he has an eighth child and that she is a hero”

20

Thus, the reasons why she is going on the mission are for her husband and her father – two men. She is being used by the MALE/female power dynamic, and despite her crucial service for her country, she is still seen as and object and an expendable means of gathering information.

In this way, she is just as much a “beauty” as all the other women.

The Stance “Bloodchild” Has on Gender Roles

After reading through the story for the first time, my mind was filled with questions such as: “What did I just read? Why did T’lics have children by implanting Terrans (Humans) with eggs? Who make a story like this?”

The story sets us up in this unknown society on an unknown planet where Terrans (Humans) and T’lics (Aliens) live with one another in peace. We’re given some backstory as to how the Terrans and T’lics eventually came to be living with each other. They both, at one point, hated each other. Terrans would shoot to kill T’lics while T’lics would assassinate the Terrans at night. However, after years of fighting each other, both groups came together to discuss peace between the two groups. New laws were set among both groups and that leads us back into present day in the story. We follow Gan throughout the story as he discovers the truth about T’lic implantation. Gan was chosen from the day that he was born that he was going to be a NT’lic. NT’lic were designated Terrans that would host and give birth to Grubs, T’lic babies. One thing that struck me was that they typically only went for males.

After analyzing the story a second time, it came to my mind that this story experiments with gender roles. The story introduces this new land where men were giving more births than women just so that the T’lic population could continue to increase. You begin to realize that T’lic seem to have more control over the Terrans. It’s hidden in the words, but each species has a specific role that they’re expected to carry on throughout their life. Besides the point of survival, you come to a generalization stance where you wonder if T’lics only keep Terrans alive because they can be used.

T’lics saw it that men were either expected to have children with other Terrans or give birth to Grubs. For women, they were expected to have more children in order for T’lics to choose who would be the next chosen one to give birth to Grubs when they got older. T’Gatoi, the T’lic that lives in Gan’s home, states in the story that they actually prefer women to birth Grubs because they had more fat in them; however, they choose men so that women can have the ability to birth their own children. T’lics use Terrans only for the mere benefit that they implant their eggs inside of them and have them give birth to the next generation of T’lics.

This story plays with the idea about gender roles in our society and questions: What would happen if men obtained the ability to give birth? Octavia Butler does a good job diving deep into this idea while also telling a story like no other.

A Search for an Elephant and a Deeper Meaning

The ending of the Elephant Vanishes left me unsettled. I do not believe that the elephant simply vanished however, Haruki Murakami did not leave us with much to interpret. While I read this story I was continuously on the search for a deeper meaning. Since there was no satisfying ending I tried to look for something that would put me at ease.

I think one of the main themes in this story is balance. The author brings it up in two ways, the size of the elephant and the keeper at the end of the story and in the narrator’s life.

Balance also plays a role at the end when the keeper and elephant are described as being the same size. Physically they are balanced because they are the same size. I think this balance helps the elephant and keeper achieve mutual recognition. Aside from being balanced physically they have a relationship different than most that allows them to think of each other differently. The narrator almost describes this as an intimate relationship where they are able to communicate with each other on a different level. The keeper does not believe that he is superior to the elephant and ending the story with them as the same size reduces the differences between them leading them to mutual recognition.

The narrator’s life is all about balance. His profession is selling kitchens and his sales pitch is about how they need to be balanced. He goes to work, reads the entire newspaper, and observes the elephant. The elephant vanishing brings excitement to his life and becomes all he can think about. Someone in my class mentioned that in Japanese culture everyone wants to fit in. You want to conform instead of sticking out.

Since I was searching for a deeper meaning I think this is an interesting point. The author may be attempting to relate this to society and the desire to fit in. This story is not like any other story that I have read, an elephant vanishing into thin air is a pretty dramatic and unique event to occur and story to write about. With that in mind I think that it is very important that the author made the narrator’s life so consistent because he represents society and the elephant represents breaking out from the conformities of society. Although Murakami may have intended for the story to simply be about a vanishing elephant, this is a much more satisfying ending.