Suffering and Choice in “Dream of a Ridiculous Man” by Fyodor Dostoevsky
When Albert Camus wrote The Myth of Sisyphus , he demonstrated the absurdity of human existence in the indifferent universe with the ridiculous task of pushing a rock up a hill an infinite number of times. Every time Sisyphus pushed the rock to the top of the hill, it only rolled back down for him to do it again. This is the very fundamental idea underlying Existentialism. Much like Sisyphus of the ancient myth, humans live a meaningless existence; nothing means anything when all that is certain is death. It is therefore ridiculous to live without such a realization, or otherwise with an illusion of meaning and purpose. Yet humans continue to live and assign importance to their daily activities, even against the fact that death is inevitable. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story The Dream of a Ridiculous Man accounts for the absurdity of human existence portrayed by Albert Camus and demonstrates what it is to be really ridiculous, yet also suggests a solution. We humans must understand that we both have the ability to choose the life we live, and that end results may not matter as much as we assume.
Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote The Dream of a Ridiculous Man from a politically, socially, and spiritually troubled 19th century Russia. Life under the Russian regime is key in Dostoevsky writings, and The Dream of the Ridiculous Man is no exception. The story reflects the suffering and alienation of the Russian society and explores the psychology of the character shaped by the society. Dostoevsky however, provides consolation and hope at the end of the story as he believes there is purity and goodness at the end of suffering and despair (Bourgeois). The story also includes elements of Dostoevsky’s philosophical school of thought, Existentialism. Meaning in life, absurdity, suicide, as well as confronting mortality and the anxiety of choice are fundamental basis in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. The story is also richly influenced with Orthodox Christianity. Dostoevsky references the bible, creating alternate interpretations of Genesis, portrays the narrator as Adam, later as the Serpent, and then as Jesus, and explores religious concepts such as the Problem of Evil and Fall of Man (Cassedy). These influences play in to the story and at least in part explain or provide the context for the character’s ridiculous existence, suicidal intentions, and eventually the revelation to live and do good by choice.
The narrator of The Dream of a Ridiculous Man admits he is living an absurd existence and finds no evidence of the contrary. He explains that “he has always been ridiculous, and he has known it” (Dostoevsky, pg. 3), not only distinguishing himself from other humans, but also distinguishing humanity from other species. Humans are the only living creatures aware of their ultimate fate, and that knowledge is what makes their existence far more absurd than any other. The narrator’s acknowledgment of this is essential in the Existentialist thought. The narrator also reveals that earlier in his life when he was attending the university, “the more he learned, the more he understood he was ridiculous…in the end, the sciences he studied existed only to prove he was ridiculous” (pg. 3). The narrator does not know exactly when he became ridiculous, but he comes to understand that he has always been ridiculous and it does not matter when he realized it first. As the story continues, he grows ever more indifferent to life, and finds only more evidence of the absurdity of human existence with his friends, neighbors, and strangers.
The conversation between the narrator’s friends that follows only reinforces the narrator’s beliefs. They are arguing for the sake of argument, and are completely detached from the topic they speak of. Their conversation is meaningless and their enthusiasm a pretense as they do not understand the emotions and opinions they profess. When the narrator tells his friends that they do not really care for their argument, they only find his remark amusing. This conversation demonstrates the idea that nothing matters in life, and thus the only passion for doing anything that exists is fake. The narrator realizes that, but he speaks with indifference when he attempts to reproach his friends. The narrator also shows indifference in his apartment building. He says there is shouting and fighting in one of his neighbor’s apartment just behind the wall, but he shows no annoyance or concern. The narrator simply “does not care how much they shout on the other side of the partition or how many of them there are in there: he sits up all night and forgets them so completely that he does not hear the noise anymore” (pg. 6). An encounter with a little girl reveals that the narrator maintains his beliefs. When the little girl asks the narrator for his help, he reasons that the stranger he is asked to help will die nonetheless. Turning his back on humanity, the narrator demonstrates his further indifference and ambivalence to life, his or other. If everything in life is ridiculous then there is no reason he should help the stranger. The narrator essentially finds his existence ridiculous and there is no evidence of the contrary anywhere in his life. There is only absurdity and indifference, and so the narrator decides to commit suicide, but he falls asleep.
The narrator’s dream is a fundamental change in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. It is a vision or a revelation that teaches the narrator of the true absurdity of human existence, and creates a dramatic change in the narrator’s life. He goes from committing suicide to preaching what he believes is the truth. The dream itself not only puts the paradise that the narrator visits and his world in juxtaposition, but also parallels ultimate good with knowledge of good and evil. The paradise, or the earth before the Fall of Man, is free from all that is evil and shameless; it is a utopia where every resident is innocent and happy. With the narrator’s presence however, the paradise is cursed with the same fate as Eden was on Earth. The narrator corrupts the paradise with knowledge by introducing lies, sexual debauchery, jealousy, murder, factions, nationalism, war, etc. (pg. 19). He brings an end to the perfect happiness and ultimate good of people of the paradise, but at the same time he gives them humanity, knowledge, and choice. The people of the paradise lack the ability to choose their life, and that is no life at all. What the narrator essentially gives them is the most human thing of all, the ability to choose.
The narrator learns that knowledge and the ability to choose is far more meaningful then life itself. The people of the paradise are merely instinctual creatures, doing good, but having no ability to reason or choose to do good. There is no evidence that living a good life is any better than living a bad life or an indifferent life, yet the people of the paradise are exclusive to only that one option, one option among three. There is nothing that can be more ridiculous then to live a good, moral life above any other when in the end the good and the bad will both meet the same fate, and both will be exactly equal. Living a good, moral life is not a necessary element of human existence. The knowledge that there is a choice, and the understanding that all choices are equal is the key to any happiness. The narrator explains that the people of the paradise “would not want to return to the paradise” (pg. 20), and then the narrator himself admits “he loves the earth they have polluted more then the paradise” (pg. 21). Indeed, the knowledge and the ability to choose are higher than any life in paradise. The narrator and the people of the paradise learn that if men do good it should be because they can do good all by themselves, because they can choose to do good by their own conscious understanding. The narrator summarizes this truth when he wakes up; “the chief thing is to love others like yourself, that is the chief thing” (pg. 22). The narrator is a changed man now, not only does he cherish life, but he goes from attempting suicide to a life where he preaches the truth and atones his past mistakes. He finds meaning and purpose, and there is no mention of a God or an afterlife. The narrator learns that “he can be beautiful and happy without losing the power of living on earth” (pg. 22), that is, he is motivated to do good purely by his own choosing, not by the promise of eternal life or a paradise.
Dostoevsky’s The Dream of a Ridiculous Man is a short story that confirms the absurdity of human existence and gives some thought to suicide as a viable response, but at the same time demonstrates that happiness and meaning can be attained in this world if one understands that one should do good by his own conscious choosing. Dostoevsky’s implications however go beyond this. The story is also a comment on Christianity, and in particular Eden or the paradise. The Dream of the Ridiculous Man seems to suggest that a “paradise or an afterlife will never come to be” (pg. 22), because an eternity of unconsciously doing only good is inhuman. Consciousness of life is higher than life, and the paradise is an automatic, robotic life deprived of consciousness. The ability to choose indeed gives life consciousness and perhaps the short life on earth is worth more than an eternity in paradise, as Dostoevsky implies. In the story, Dostoevsky also comments on the evolution of civilization. The paradise in the narrator’s vision seems to take on the same history as that of humanity on earth. First there is a paradise, next is corruption, and then mankind spends the next thousands of years learning how to be happy again. The difference is that when mankind learns the truth, in that they will do good and be happy, they will have arrived at it consciously. This evolution of civilization perhaps only attempts to recapture the goodness and happiness of the paradise, but it also more importantly gains consciousness in the process. Dostoevsky stresses that it is this consciousness, the knowledge, the ability to choose that gives any sense to life.
In Dostoevsky’s conception, humanity has not regressed from paradise, but progressed. God has given us the ability to do good, we have given ourselves the ability to choose to do good. We have come from being unconscious, instinctive and mechanical automatons, to conscious human begins with the capacity not only to be genuinely happy, but also the knowledge of the laws of happiness. We should do good not because it may or may not be rewarded by God who may or may not exist, but because we can do good regardless of God and an afterlife. We are merely human beings on this earth who can only conquer the absurdity of our own existence when we understand that our conscious mind transcends everything.
Bourgeois, Patrick, Lyall. “Dostoevsky and Existentialism.“ Journal of Thought (1980): 29-38. Philosopher’s Index. EBSCO. Web. 5 May 2010.
Cassedy, Steven. “Dostoevsky’s Religion.” Studies in East European Thought (2007): 163-165. Philosopher’s Index. EBSCO. Web.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. Feedbooks. Published: 1877. PDF File. <www.feedbooks.com/book/2138.pdf>
Parallel Experiences Shape Atonement
In a very meta fashion, Atonement repeatedly places emphasis and raises questions about the significance and the role of the writer in literature. By eventually revealing that Briony has been the one penning the story all along, readers are left doubting nearly everything they have read before. Briony/McEwan’s comparisons of Robbie and Briony simultaneously paint Briony as a manipulative character influenced by class differences and a character that was truly trying to atone. While there is constantly an underlying importance in the role of the writer, the paramount issue is class differences. This overarching theme is largely seen through the parallel experiences of Robbie and Briony and the symbols that are shared between the two of them.
Robbie Turner is a character that is never granted freedom. He is always pent up in many ways: He has to serve a family during his youth, he is strangled by his love for Cecilia, he is imprisoned because of his love for Cecilia, and released on the grounds that he potentially – and later, literally – give his life for his country. This damnation is entirely caused by the grave that Briony digs for him. Eventually, during his time as a soldier, a piece of the war gets lodged inside of him in the form of shrapnel. Later on, during Briony’s section, she removes pieces of shrapnel from many soldiers, who are frequently in worse shape than Robbie was. This is symbolic of Briony trying to redeem herself, especially as she briefly mentions how she was hoping Robbie would be one of the soldiers she would be taking care of. Even though she indirectly put Robbie in the line of fire, by saving the men in front of her, she is indirectly still trying to save Robbie. She is removing the pieces of shrapnel from every body she wishes was Robbie’s – knowing that these are pieces of war that she essentially lodged in his body, therefore trying to atone for her sins. While this could speak to the theme of the role of the writer, it ultimately speaks to the role of class differences in England, especially between Briony and Robbie. Briony’s eternal inability to see past class differences is something that makes her character unredeemable. In this instance, the fact that she is placing Robbie in the warzone while simultaneously saving men from war’s consequences is symbolic of the ubiquitous control that the upper class has over the lives of the lower class. This is also epitomized through the role of Paul Marshall, who uses Robbie as a pawn to escape his own consequences and guilt. Because Paul and Briony are members of the upper class, it is infinitely easier for them to be able to manipulate the role that people like Robbie will take. Robbie never had a say in whether or not he would be sent to prison or war (the absence of a trial made that abundantly clear). Instead, it was Paul and Briony who decided his fate for him. The fact that it is Briony who is saving people like him and Paul who is feeding people like him reinforce the idea that the soldiers and other lowly people’s lives are completely handled by the elite. They have the choices: To feed, to starve; To save, to kill; To blame, to listen to. The value of a life is no longer an abstract, inspiring thing, but a unit that is assigned a dollar sign or a prison sentence. Try as she might to save the likes of Robbie, it was the likes of Briony that put him there in the first place.
Whether or not Briony learned anything significant or developed throughout the novel in a substantial way, caring for the Frenchman especially changed her view of the war. His death is significant and seemingly symbolic of Robbie, as well. By this point, Robbie had already died. However, throughout the entirety of the war – and probably as soon as Briony convicted him – Robbie was forever stamped as a man who would not be able to fully be helped. Briony knew this even in the fabricated story she wrote “for him and Cee.” Coming clean about her lies would not impart justice upon a man married to his victim. Robbie would never receive proper reparations. Similarly, when she approaches the Frenchman, she is unable to help him and even “could not help feeling offended” because it would be a waste of her services elsewhere (287). While it would be easy for Briony to leave his side, find other patients who could be salvaged, and singlehandedly create a better world, she is ordered to stay by a man who would soon die. Spending time with him did nothing to tangibly create her legacy or perfect idealizations of herself. It was – by all means – a waste of time that could have been better-spent saving soldiers who had a chance, however immoral that is. That she spends his last moments with him; however, mirror the harsh realities of her life and interactions in relation to Robbie. For all intents and purposes, Robbie cannot be helped. Still she agonizes over the thought of him and what she has done. She sits and listens to the Frenchman who might not be deserving of her time when he needed her most. If she had sat and listened to Robbie (who she thought was not deserving of her time) when he needed her most, she might not have damned him. She creates a peaceful ending for the Frenchman’s life, and while she attempts to do that by penning their story, she never could truly reverse time and do that with Robbie.
The parallel experiences that Briony and Robbie both experience are meant to further mimic the major motif of class differences. The two characters are so universally different, and yet, we see both of them completing their journeys in similar ways with similar symbols. Reiterating the importance and role of the author, pairing Briony and Robbie as dealing with similar hardships draws a level of understanding between the two of them. While we learn about Cecilia, Robbie and Briony are the only two minds we get to fully enter. In this way, the two become a pair and it creates a space to compare and contrast the two characters and their experiences. When they are both suffering from thirst and blisters, we see Robbie struggling with the idea of how much destruction and harm humans can inflict upon one another. He deals with the harshness and casualness with which war is approached. Briony gets glimpses of this through her experiences as a nurse, as well. Both of them come to the realization that nobody can be unaffected by war. They are also compared by their enduring pain. Robbie constantly, but silently, comments on the pain from his bullet wound. Meanwhile, when the drove of wounded soldiers arrive at Briony’s hospital, she describes the pain of carrying in one of the stretchers. While the two instances are significantly shorter in the time they occupy – both for the characters and the readers – it contrasts the endurance of the two characters. While Briony almost immediately feels that “her left wrist could not hold up…her fingers were loosening…[and her] fingers went slack,” (274-275). While she paints herself as a person put in great effort to get the soldier to safety, it is still clear that at the “moment the war touched her life, at the first moment of pressure, she had failed,” (275). Robbie, on the other hand, does not stand for defeat. Throughout his strife, he knows that “you walked across the land until you came to the sea,” (206). At this point, he is too thirsty to eat and too blistered to walk properly. His “wound throbbed uncomfortably, each beat precise and tight,” which continues throughout his journey (189). These two parallels between their sufferings ironically expose both of their inner strengths. Briony is clearly much weaker than Robbie. Her journey through saving all of the wounded soldiers causes her nothing but thirst and exhaustion – which she doesn’t particularly notice throughout the event’s duration. Still, at the very beginning, she finds herself almost unable to continue her task after a mere few minutes. Oppositely, Robbie is able to last days traversing lands with a shrapnel wound throbbing at his stomach. He is physically stronger and still finds himself putting the lives of the rest of his compatriots in front of his own.
The difference in Briony and Robbie’s worth to the world is astronomical; a well-educated man who is able to save soldiers, put on a brave face and persist through a healthy stretch of the war compared to an immature girl who is hardly able to help the first solider she comes in contact with. The irony in all of this lies in the fact that, still, it is Briony who survives. The worth of Robbie’s life is entirely diminished and devalued because of his social standing, an idea that is reinforced throughout the beginning of the novel surrounding his education and imprisonment. If he was given the opportunity, he could’ve been greatly beneficial to the nation, or even just his family or community. Briony is given the chance to demonstrate her worth repeatedly and the only thing she proves is that she can choose the right keys to press on a typewriter to make a good sentence. Still, the fact that she was born into a better family than Robbie dictates that her life will always be of higher value than his. No matter what he can do, their interactions prove that it was quantity of dollars, not quality of personhood, which counted to be deemed important.
The Story On the Sidewalk Bleeding by Evan Hunter
Society often misjudge people because of how they look on the outside.
In the story, On the Sidewalk Bleeding by Evan Hunter, shows that people presume other people’s personality by their looks. Andy, the protagonist of the story, is labeled as a bad person by most people because he is wearing a Royal Jacket. He makes the wrong choice and join the gang but he realizes too late. This made Andy have conflicts between society, people and himself. In the story, Andy is seen as someone else and not his true self. Andy had conflicts with other people and this caused him to get hurt. He had been stabbed ten minutes ago. ‘That’s for you Royal!’ (Hunter).
The guy who stabbed Andy was part of a group called the Guardians. The Guardians and the Royals are groups that hate each other. They see all of the Royals as the same person and they do not see the person under the jacket. This means that the guy who stabbed Andy, stabbed him because he was part of the Royals and not as Andy. Him laying on the ground and his jacket beside him also caused people not help him. The cop picked up the jacket and turned it over in his hands. “A Royal, huh?” (Hunter). This proves that people will not help him because he is a Royal. They do not feel the slightest pity because he was wearing a Royal jacket and the cop thinks Andy is like all the other Royals. Andy found out that society hates him because he is part of the Royals. First a person who is drunk found Andy, he is too drunk to do anything but smile and say stuff. “What’s the matter buddy?” The man smiled. (Hunter). This shows that people in the community does not want to help Andy but smile a t it. This is because Andy was part of the Royals and that is another one down. Freddie, is part of the Guardians and will not help him because Andy was a Royal. “I don’t know. I don’t want to get mixed up with this. He’s a Royal. We help him and the Guardians will be down our necks.” (Hunter).
This shows that society hates the Royals so much that they won’t even help one even if they are dying. Close to the end of the story, Andy realises too late that he made the wrong choice. Andy has arguments in his head about the good and the bads of being a Royal. I’m Andy, he screamed wordlessly, I’m Andy. (Hunter). At that moment, Andy realises who he truly is. He realise that people He notices that Royals is just a label to society and nothing else. Andy found out that if didn’t wear his jacket, he wouldn’t get hurt. The knife had not been plunged in hatred of Andy. The knife hated only the purple jacket. (Hunter). Andy has arguments in his head about the pros and cons of being a Royal. He finds out that being a Royal is not the best thing ever The person who stabbed him only has hatred towards the jacket.
Throughout the novel, one conflict leads to another and this causes Andy to have conflict with society, people and himself. Andy was stabbed because he was wearing a Royals jacket. People didn’t want to help him because they think all Royals are bad people. This causes Andy to learn that Royals s just a label and people didn’t see that he is Andy. Royals is just a label and it isn’t the best thing for Andy. This caused Andy to die because of society’s hatred towards the Royals.
Evan Hunter, On the Sidewalk Bleeding
Review Of Movie Adaptation Of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club
Fight Club is a 1999 film version of the Chuck Palahniuk’s satirical novel, “Fight Club” starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Written by Jim Uhls and directed by David Fincher, this movie illustrates the life of a white, young men narrating with hindsight, how he ended up at the top of a skyscraper with a gun in his mouth.
He used to work as an insurance consultant of a big automobile company in the United States. As much as it sounds as an interesting and important job, he was deeply depressed, unsatisfied and unhappy with his monotonous and cyclical life. He replaces his emotional necessities and lack of attention with IKEA furniture and material possessions. His permanent uneasiness triggered sleeping disorders and the feeling that “nothing is real, everything is far away, everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.” (Fincher, 1999)
He claims to be in pain and asks for pre-scripted medical supplies to sleep, but the doctor says that he should visit support groups for patients with terminal diseases and see what real pain is. The narrator became addicted to attend to therapy and ended up involved in all seven groups; One for each day of the week. The narrator met Bob the first time he attended to “Testicular cancer” support group. People had to find a partner to hug, and they both ended up together. After Bob’s testicles were removed, he developed women’s breasts because of the hormones. The narrator determines that there is where he fits, “Between those huge sweating tits,” (Fincher, 1999) and describes how something never felt so right.
He could sleep for a while until Marla Singer started attending to the same support groups as the narrator. He soon realized Marla is an imposter just like he is. She had no diseases at all, and he complains that, her lie reflected his own lie (Fincher, 1999). Because of her, the narrator felt inhibited to canalize his sadness and couldn’t cry anymore, so once again, he had insomnia storming his nights.
On the same days, he had lots of business trips, but he was more confused and misplaced than ever. The narrator falls asleep and wakes up in a different place every time, never knowing where he is. Lose an hour, gain an hour, the narrator says it’s his life, and it’s ending one minute at a time (Fincher, 1999). He was so tired of living that he wished for the plane to crash while take-off or landing. During one of his flights, he met Tyler Durden, a soap salesman who also works as a movie projectionist and a waiter. He has a particular way of interpreting life and the narrator wishes he could be someone as carefree as Tyler.
When he finally stopped travelling and goes home, not only he had lost his suitcase with everything he liked to carry, but also he finds out that a gas leakage set his apartment on fire, and he has nothing left but ashes on the ground next to the building. The narrator finds the presentation card Tyler gave him on the plane and called him looking for help and a friendly voice. They meet up at a bar and reflect on what just happened. Once they finish talking, after a couple of beers, they leave by the back door and agreed he will stay at Tyler’s house. While they still talking, they start a spontaneous fight at the alley.
Their casual fights suddenly turned into a habit. Men got more interested in them each time they fought, and quickly, many started to join them. When they least expected, their little routine became an organised group of men ready to confront each other every single night. Fight club.
If you make a little research about the movie, you notice that everybody classifies it on a different genre. You may find options such as an action film, a psychological thriller, dark comedy and drama, but never a satire. Even though the novel is considered one, we won’t see people referring to the movie as a satire, and I couldn’t agree less. Both, the writer and the director were trying to capture multiple aspects from contemporary society to point out it shortcomings. A satire is considered a piece of writing which makes fun of an individual or a society to expose its flaws (Satire, Cambridge Dictionary), so by definition the movie could perfectly be considered one.
To the naked eye, it looks like the film has a straightforward plot, but in fact it is much more complex than that. The movie is highly symbolical and touches numerous controversial topics criticizing society and judging people’s priorities on these last centuries. It is hard to explain and identify all the analogies included, but based on the summary written above, it is possible to describe the most essential ones.
You may have noticed that we always refer to the narrator as “he”, and you may wonder why don’t we call him by his name instead. The truth is, the writer nor the film director ever revealed or assigned a real name to the character. The purpose of it was for the readers or the viewers to identify him as an average person and easily relate to him. They wanted for any of us to fit under the role of the narrator and connect even more with the story. However, for editorial, from now on I will call him Ted sometimes. (No particular reason for the name.)
One of the first symbols or comparisons we noticed at the beginning of the film is Ted’s identity crisis. He no longer has aims to live and rather flip to catalogues and wonder what kind of dining set define him as a person (Fincher, 1999). On the movie, they never strictly explain why Ted felt the way he did, but we may assume that’s also on purpose. Nowadays, people in society feel extremely empty and lonely without really knowing why. It’s a generalized symptom most of the times.
Once he started visiting support groups regularly, his anxiety got better for a while. Being there and listen to people’s life testimonies helped him cry away his sorrows and finally sleep at night. Watch people nearly dying, on a daily basis, made him feel better about his own life. This reveals the common necessity of humans for being accepted by others, feeling that we belong somewhere special and being valued. That’s exactly what gave him new desires to live.
We may also see how Ted finds huge comfort on Bob’s hugs. In this scene, he’s representing a maternal and paternal figure at the same time. This may be for two reasons. The first one might be that the narrator has no one to hold since he has no family and Bob may represent the role models missing at home while Ted was growing up. The second one could be to attack the stereotypes of masculinity and male figure presented by society. As grotesque as it may sound, we’ve always heard that “big balls” are what define real men. Males at the support group don’t have testicles any more, and they continuously repeat to themselves that they are still men (Fincher, 1999) no matter how much society states the opposite.
One of the most iconic characters definitely would be Marla. Since the first time we see her in the movie, she’s presented to us like the antagonist of the story Ted is telling. He refers to Marla as “the big tourist” not because she’s foreign, but because she walks around life with no concerns. She represents and reflects the narrator’s remorse from lying to everybody. From the moment she appears, Ted’s voice and tone completely changes while narrating. He hates her so much because his self-consciousness and guilt came back to him in the form of Marla. She’s a reminder that anxiety is extremely real and that it will not simply fade away while being surrounded by people.
On the plane scene, during his business trips, Ted once again faces his identity crisis and wonders “If you wake up at a different time in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?” (Fincher, 1999). The narrator is tired of who he is but he does nothing to change the miserable life he thinks he has. In the same scene, it’s also possible to identify individualism as a major problem on today’s societies. Everywhere he went, he found “Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon bleu hobby kit. Shampoo-conditioner combos, sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap” (Fincher, 1999). He would even refer to the people he met on each flight as single-serving friends. This shows how now things are meant to be disposable. Their only purpose is to cover a one time necessity and then forget about them. When he refers to another person as single-serving friend, we can see how the concept also applies to people. Currently, we are only looking for our own well being without thinking on the consequences. We want success only for ourselves and we only call upon people when we need something from them. Later on, we get rid of them.
Ted has had many “single-serving” friends, but once he met Tyler, he became the most interesting of them all. It might be the first time the narrator officially meets Tyler, but, haven’t you noticed? Unlike Ted, this not the first time we see him. From the beginning of the movie, the director has slowly introduced him to us through multiple scenes. His presence became more visible and explicit a few scenes before they both met, but David Fincher wanted to play with our subconscious mind and show us that he has always been there. In fact, a couple of scenes ahead, when the narrator explains the many things Tyler did to live, they reveal an important secret. Tyler inserts inappropriate images on children movies, the same way the director inserted an image of Tyler, for a fraction of a second, from time to time. We didn’t know we saw him, but he was always there.
Tyler Durden represent everything the narrator would ever want to be and never will unless he changes his mindset. Ted was always concerned about fitting with the social stereotypical standards of a perfect life, but since such a thing doesn’t exist, he was never completely satisfied. The moment he got home and realised he had nothing left, and everything he worked for had vanished, he called the only person that has ever offered him a different vision of life. Tyler.
When they meet to take a beer at the bar, the narrator describes everything he had and how he was about to be completed. Now that everything is gone, Tyler wants to show him how they are all consumers because of capitalism and how that lifestyle will never provide him real happiness. This is one of the most repetitive concepts through the whole movie; Consumerism. Throughout the story, both, the book and the film, there are some quotes Tyler mentioned while expressing his philosophy of life and trying to teach Ted a lesson:
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” (Palahniuk, 1996)
“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your – khakis.” (Fincher, 1999)
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” (Palahniuk, 1996)
We cite these quotes with two purposes. The first one is to show the level of detachment Tyler Durden has. For him, possessions are nothing more but unnecessary material goods. He suggests to never be complete, stop being perfect and just evolve (Fincher, 1999). The second one is to make emphasis on the topic with more recurrence during the story. To understand the plot better and identify the main cause that led Ted to develop all kind of health disorders, we need to understand how immerse we all are on this vicious consumer conduct. Things we own end up owning us (Fincher, 1999) because we generate a huge dependence to furniture and goods. By saying that he had “everything” on that suitcase or he had it all on his apartment, he is also saying there is nothing more valuable than the possessions we have. Tyler proposes not only the narrator but also all the readers and viewers to “reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions” (Palahniuk, 1996). To actually define ourselves we need to pursue our dreams, our goals and hold tight on our principles and values, any other way, we will just be participants of the capitalist “circus.”
As the film goes on, we get the feeling that even though Ted has death desires; He doesn’t want to kill himself nor put an effort on living instead of just surviving. Once again, his thought could expose any of us. I’m not talking about suicidal wishes, I’m talking about conformism. People is complaining all the time about how their life sucks, yet, nobody does anything to change what they don’t like. We are usually waiting for a Tyler Durden to come in our behalf and rescue us from ourselves. It is important to understand that this is not how life works. We need to take responsibility of our own actions. Sometimes we might get help, but nobody is going to do the “dirty work” for us.
Finally, the last concept we’ll cover relies on the club itself. Fight Club is often seen or considered as the time two strangers get to oppose each other, but as everything else, we also need to analyse this carefully. Just like winning isn’t the main objective of the fight, the fight encounters aren’t the main theme of the movie either. The creation of the group is a way to wrap up all the symbols previously mentioned. Their fights aren’t a strength show off, or a matter of proud, they are a way to canalize and liberate the frustrations they have been holding for so long. A way to understand who the real enemy is. To be themselves for one night forgetting about all the social rules we have shown before. But just for one night, because once they go home and the sun rises, they go back to their “prison cells”. They are not a member of the club anymore. The same way we behave in real life when there is something affecting us deeply, they behave when they go to work the next morning. They just act as if nothing has ever happened.
We could keep writing symbolisms and controversial topics about the movie as much as we want. People will never stop finding new hidden messages that David Fincher left for us to find through the whole film, but if you point out every single detail that represents a satire while watching the movie, you may miss the amusement parts of the plot. The more you talk about it, the less impact it may have on people when they watch it the first time. Guess that’s why “the first rule of fight club is: you never talk about fight club.” (Fincher, 1999)
Representation Of Asperger’s Syndrome In The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime
Many people with Asperger’s Syndrome have trouble socializing and connecting with other people. Forming meaningful relationships is also a challenge. One of the main reasons why is because they have a hard time making eye contact and holding conversations. As well as this, they can have sensory problems where they are very sensitive to others touching them or coming in close proximity. However, most people with Asperger’s are extremely intelligent. Christopher, the main character of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon, was diagnosed with Aspergers and has to overcome the struggles of living with Autism. He also has many of the social, emotional, and physical traits that come along with this diagnosis. He struggles to talk to strangers and make eye contact, and can’t be touched or he will drop to the ground and starts crying. However, a major strength is that Christopher is extremely intelligent and performs at a superior level in his math class. In the novel, Christopher shows an accurate representation of Asperger’s Syndrome because he demonstrates most all of the characteristics.
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime by Mark Haddon is an accurate representation of Asperger’s Syndrome because Christopher has many of actual characteristics which are seen in people with Asperger’s. People with Aspergers have difficulty in social situations, and this also applies to Christopher. As a result, he doesn’t like crowded or loud spaces.
For example, when Christopher’s pet rat Toby had gotten onto the train tracks and Christopher jumped down to find Toby, and a man spotted Christopher. Christopher says, “And then the man with the diamond pattern on his socks grabbed hold of me and pulled me and I screamed, but he kept pulling and he pulled me up onto the concrete and we fell over and I carried on screaming because he had my shoulder” (183). In this quote, Christopher is showing how bad he is in physical and social interactions because he is physically being touched. Normally a person without Asperger’s wouldn’t be as sensitive to another person touching them. Another example of when Christopher didn’t like crowded spaces is on the train. “There were lots of people on the train, and I didn’t like that because I don’t like lots of people I don’t know and I detest it even more if I am stuck in a room with lots of people I don’t know and a train is like a room and you can’t get out of it when it’s moving” (158).This shows how fearful and uncomfortable Christopher feels when he is around many strangers, especially in close proximity.Just like almost all people who struggle with Asperger’s Syndrome, Chrisopher is uncomfortable with congested, loud areas. Many people with Asperger’s Syndrome like Christopher often have a higher intelligence but lack emotional skills; this is all true for Christopher in the book.
Throughout the book it is clear how intelligent Christopher is. There were many instances when it is obvious how quickly he could memorize things as well as recall any fact. However, there are numerous times when Christopher struggles to emotionally connect and react to other people. One day Christopher’s dad came home from work. Christopher says, “At 5:48 pm my father came home. He says, howdy partner, which is a joke he does. I said, “Hello” (80). This shows how intelligent he is, to know the exact minute that his dad arrived home, but also his answer of hello shows he cannot relate emotionally to other people. Their was another interaction, when Christopher got off the train when he is trying to find his way and asked the man at the store for directions. “He picked up the little book and handed it to me and said $2.95. Are you going to buy it or not? And I said, I don’t know” (187). This shows how Christopher can be very smart but lacks emotional skills because he didn’t understand that the man is trying to sell him a map. Almost every conversation Christopher has, he is able to show how smart he is but the lack of social skills is always present. Due to Christopher’s lack of socialization skills, he struggles a great deal with formulating relationships. People with Asperger’s often like their world to be completely planned and organized, just like Christopher.
Throughout the book, Christopher shows how he has a routine and a plan for everything he does and if something doesn’t happen as predicted he gets really upset. “3:30 p.m. catch school bus home; 3:49 p.m. Get off school bus at home; 3:50p.m. have juice and snack; 3:55 p.m. Give Toby food and water; 4:00p.m. Take Toby out of his cage; 4:18p.m. put Toby in his cage; 4:20p.m. Watch television or video; 5:00p.m. Read a book; 6:00p.m. Have tea; 6:30p.m. Watch television or a video; 7:00p.m. Do maths practice; 8:00p.m. Have a bath; 8:15p.m. Get changed into pajamas; 8:20p.m. Play computer games; 9:00p.m. Watch television or a video; 9:20 Have juice and a snack; 9:30 go to bed” (156). By listing all of this by the minute this is showing how structured and planned he likes to be. Another example of how structured and routine-oriented Christopher is when he is getting his food ready. “I opened up my special food box. Inside was the Milkybar and two licorice laces and three clementines and a pink wafer biscuit and my red food coloring. I didn’t feel hungry but I knew that I should eat something because if you don’t eat something you can get cold, so I ate two clementines and the Milkybar. ” (124). The food Christopher had packed is extremely specific. Also, when most people aren’t hungry they don’t eat. However, because of Chistophers schedule he ate the food anyway so it didn’t mess anything up. Overall, Christopher’s routine and schedule are very specific and concise. If things don’t go according to plan, he will get very flustered and upset. This again is another instance where Christopher struggles just like most people with Asperger’s Syndrome.
As it is apparent from the arguments provided, Christopher has a challenging time coping with being different than others. His main hardships are forming meaningful relationships and physical contact. Christopher has a brilliant mind, but isn’t able to see things from someone else’s perspective. Throughout the book he struggles with all of the same things that people with Asperger’s do.
Even though many people hate being touched, Christopher can’t stand it at all. For example, when he is in the elevator another person’s jacket scraped against his knee. While most people wouldn’t care because it is in such a compact space Christopher would lay on the ground and start screaming to help cope with what just happened.
The Themes Of Love And Safety In The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime
In the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, one of the main themes that is portrayed in the story is love, truth and security or safety – all of which are important in building a relationship. Throughout the story, Christopher sees truth as a principal part of the world, and thinks of it as right or wrong (right if you are truthful, wrong if you are untruthful). If someone tells him the truth, he can trust them; although, if they lie to him, he fears them.
During the entire novel, he is always carrying a Swiss Army Knife, which proves that he is always aware of his physical safety, because he struggles to protect himself emotionally. Hence, he has a knife for defense against people who might attack him. As a matter of fact, he sometimes responds to any emotional harm with physical defense (for example: when he confronts his father about having learned about his mother’s affair). Truth is so crucial in Christopher’s life because he thinks it will keep him safe from any emotional harm.
Christopher struggles to understand why anyone would want to believe something that isn’t true, such as that fairies exist – “…and fairies are made out of paper and you can’t talk to someone who is dead” (Haddon 140). He wants to know the truth about everything around him, which is why he can be perceived as literal or blunt – and is the entire reason he decides to uncover the truth about Wellington’s death. Christopher also reminds the people around him and us that he never lies – “I do not tell lies” (Haddon 39). He even goes to the extent of believing that it is a ‘white lie’ if he doesn’t give every detail of his day; although, he then realizes that he needs to tell white lies if he wants to do detective work. When he goes around the neighbors’ houses, the author shows Christopher changing and being able to interact with the world around him.
Due to Christopher relying by truth and lies, he restrains himself from thinking that situations other than that exist. Because Christopher manages to live in the moment like this, he is able to protect himself from thinking about his “dead” mother or what life would’ve been like if she was still around.
Moreover, Christopher finds truth to be a sign of love, thus, when his father lied to him about his mother – he cannot fathom the fact that his father has good intentions by lying to him. In addition, he does feel the pain of the truth and vomits all over his bed, and this has put him in ‘emotional danger’ rather than keeping him safe. But after fearing his father, he realizes that he must move past this as his father still loves him. And as much as Christopher hates lies, he has to accept that sometimes people make mistakes without the intention to hurt someone they love.
Characterization In The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night time is a book narrated on the viewpoint of an intelligent young boy who was considered to be suffering from spectrum autism disorder.The story occurs in Swindon, England, and London. He had different views from other people, primarily because of his condition. The story began with the death of his neighbor’s dog; later, the narrative developed into an exploration about his household and especially his mother whom, for two years, he believed died of a heart attack. The narrator views every individual in his story differently through their actions, thoughts, how they respond, and narrator’s assumptions.
In chapter 2, the main character is an exceptional boy called Christopher; he is the narrator of the story. Christoper is a fifteen years old boy who lives with his father in England. According to the narrator, in the beginning of the book, his mother died two years before the occurrence. He is the most complicated persona of all the other characters and does not like talking to outsiders. He is bright and a math genius, he describes a different phenomenon in maths. Christopher knows all the countries in the globe, capital, and all the prime numbers up to 7,057. He narrates his story, with all chapters being in prime numbers. Although the narrator is super brilliant, also pretty insensitive, especially to people around him; says insensitive things to his classmates. The narrator likes being independent; he even decided that he want to be an astronaut because he prefers being in small places and will not have to socialize with other people.
The Second persona is Ed Boone, who is Christoper’s father. In the book, it is clear that Ed cared for his son because he provided all the necessities a father would. In chapter 43 in the narrative, Ed Boone emerges as a caring and loving parent who have to deal with the stress of raising a child with special conditions. Ed Boone was dishonest; the narrator clearly states that his father was dishonest when he found out that his mother did not die of a heart attack, as his father claimed. In chapter 157, Christopher narrates and realizes that his mother have been alive all along. When his father notices that Christopher have found out the truth, he starts explaining to him why he did it by justifying his actions.
The third persona is Judy Boone, the narrator’s mother. In the beginning of the book, Christoper thinks that his mother died two years ago. Judy was unfaithful to her husband; she had an affair with Mr shears, their neighbor. When Christopher realized that his mother was still alive and living in London, he decides to run away from home. Judy is caring; he arrives in London, she welcomes him and assures him that she will take care of him. It is through Judy that we see what it means to care for someone with social disorders. In chapter 227 of the novel, she is very patient with her son, especially when he smashed things in the stores. Judy is very emotional and knew that Christopher did not like being touched, but she begged him to touch his hand, considering it was long since the last time they saw each other.
The fourth character is Mrs. Shears, neighbor to the narrator. The narrator starts the book with the death of Mrs. Shears’s dog. When Mrs Shears sees Christopher holding her dead dog, she starts shouting and cursing him, accusing Christopher of killing the dog and demanding to know what Christopher have done to the dog. She calls the authorities on Christopher, and they questioned him implying that he killed the dog due to the implications that he might have killed Mrs Shears dog. In chapter 61 Mrs. Shears is agitated and full of anger when the narrator goes to tell her that he will investigate who killed her dog; she asks him to leave her property and threatens to call the authorities.
The other character is Siobhan, who is one of Christopher’s teachers. She is concerned and relates pretty well with the narrator. She influences Christopher to be polite and explaining to him the importance of socializing. In chapter 109, Siobhan asks Christopher about his bruises, where he answers that his father hurt him, she assures Christopher that she trusts him and that she knows he is telling the truth. The narrator seems to like Siobhan, which is not customary because he is anti-social and only relates to things he can explain. Siobhan being a special kids teacher, she understands the language of the narrator.
The last character is Mrs. Alexander; she was Christopher’s neighbor. In chapter 67, the narrator started investigating the death of Wellington, and he decided to ask around and people who live along his street on what they saw regarding Mrs Shears dog. Mrs Alexander is caring and accommodating when the narrator went to ask her questions in regards to the death of Wellington; she offered Christopher some snacks, but he refused because he did not know what she was preparing. In chapter 149, the narrator decided to leave England; he slept on the shed because he feared his father would kill him. He considered staying with Mrs. Alexander but dismissed the thought because he took her as a stranger.
Every character differs from another. Christopher is the most complex of them, mainly because his views are different from other people. He is intelligent and tries to explain everything in maths. Unlike everyone else Christopher does not like being socially involved since he considers chatting as being irrelevant. Ed Boone was a caring and loving father. However, he admitted to the killing of Mrs. Shears’s dog. The narrator thought that the only reason for people to separate is that one of them had sex with another person. The book started as an investigation of Wellington’s death but later developed into an investigation of what happened to his family.
The Reality Of Comprehension In Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime
Have you at any point felt misconstrued? Have you at any point felt detached from the general population around you? Have you at any point needed everybody to simply disregard you? In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, composed by Mark Haddon, Christopher, the novel’s primary hero, battles with attempting to identify with other individuals, experiences serious difficulties understanding why individuals question the manner in which he acts, continually feels secluded from the general population around him, and dreams of being the main person left on the planet. Christopher has a condition, an implicit type of mental imbalance that makes him think and talk contrastingly then the various characters in the book. What begins as a riddle novel rapidly transforms into a tragic anecdote about Christopher’s craving to be comprehended and to have individuals that he can trust in his life, who additionally cherish him genuinely. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime demonstrates the peruser that despite the fact that occasionally our personalities work in manners that others can’t identify with, we as a whole need to be seen, even by the individuals who question us when we state what we state and think what we think.
Mark Haddon utilizes portrayal as an approach to enable us to comprehend what sort of individual Christopher is. He knows every one of the nations of the world and their capitals, and each prime number up to seven-thousand, fifty-seven. He identifies with creatures more than people, clear in the manner in which he treats his pet rodent, Toby. Christopher detests the hues of yellow and dark colored such a great amount to the point where he won’t eat whatever has those hues present. While these qualities can appear to be unusual at first, it’s anything but difficult to see that he isn’t as various as he appears from us. Don’t we as a whole have things we disdain? Don’t we as a whole have least most loved hues? Don’t we as a whole feel that occasionally our pets are the main ones that get us? Since the grown-ups in his life can’t identify with the manner in which he feels, Christopher tells the peruser of a specific dream that he continues having where everybody on the planet is dead however him. Imprint Haddon utilizes the fantasy to symbolize Christopher’s sentiments of seclusion and dissatisfaction.
Christopher explains that in his dream he “can go anywhere in the world and I know that no one is going to talk to me or touch me or ask me a question. But if I don’t want to go anywhere, I don’t have to, and I can stay at home and eat broccoli and oranges and licorice laces all the time, or I can play computer games for a whole week, or I can just sit in the corner of the room and rub a coin back and forward over the ripple shapes on the surface of the radiator. And I wouldn’t have to go to France.” (Chapter 229)
Mark Haddon utilizes the peak of the story as a route for Christopher to be the one to misconstrue. The peak of the story is the point at which Christopher’s father advises him that he is the one that stuck the pitchfork into the stomach of Wellington. This data demonstrates to be a lot for Christopher and devises a plot to escape in view of new sentiments of doubt towards his dad. Now, the jobs are exchanged. Christopher is the person who does not comprehend why his dad would slaughter Wellington. Christopher’s dad pleas “I didn’t know what to say. I was in such a mess. She left a note and…Then she rang and…I said she was in the hospital because…because I didn’t know to explain. It was so complicated. So difficult. And I…I said she was in a hospital. And it wasn’t true. But once I’d said that…I couldn’t…I couldn’t change it. Do you understand…Christopher…? It just…It got out of control and I wish…” (Pg. 114)
Following this unforeseen development, Christopher strikes out alone and sheets a train to London to live with his mom and her sweetheart. This outing fills in as Christopher’s greatest test yet as it joins everything that Christopher doesn’t care for: Busloads of individuals, boisterous clamor, everybody talking on the double, and new situations that he has never observed or been to. There is additionally a terrible measure of new data Christopher gets so as to board and get off the train to London. He meets and converses with a cop, who thinks Christopher is clowning when he asks how he purchases a ticket. The cop doesn’t ridicule Christopher’s powerlessness to purchase his very own ticket. This shows how despite the fact that the police man discovered Christopher’s shenanigans weird, he held judgment since he comprehended that his mind worked in an unexpected way. After this overwhelming background, Christopher picks up the trust in his capacities to follow up on his own.
Christopher’s adventure demonstrates that there is something else entirely to an individual than meets the eye, and that individuals should hold judgment of others, regardless of whether their psyches don’t work similarly. Imprint Haddon’s composition drives home the message that regardless of whether we can’t completely identify with one another’s manner of thinking, we as a whole offer the basic want to be acknowledged and comprehended.
Christopher’s Journey In The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time
There are five significant quotes in the book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. This novel is centered around a 15-year old boy with autism investigating the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog and keeping track of what happens through his journal which is this book. The first quote is when Christopher Boone is in Mrs.Shears backyard, he discovers that “the dog [is] dead. There [is] a garden fork sticking out of the dog” (1). This is arguably the most crucial quote in the book; this mishap is what sets up the series of life-changing events Christopher is about to face. He is driven to uncover the mystery of who killed Mrs.Shears’s dog, Wellington, but what he doesn’t know is that it’s a catalyst for many more conflicts to come.
Throughout the book, the chapters are numbered only in prime numbers. This is because Chistopher, who is on the autism spectrum, feels comfortable and safe with these numbers. He mentions that “prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away” and he thinks that prime numbers “are like life. They are very logical but [one] [can] never work out the rules, even if [one] spend[s] all [their] time thinking about them” (12). This quote is significant because it gives the readers an insight on how the protagonist thinks; he relies on logic, which is why he excels in math and science, but struggles when understanding social rules used everyday in life such as facial expressions. He has poor social skills and is often unable to understand any principles behind them; but like prime numbers, he accepts that he may never know its rules.
Despite struggling socially, Christopher doesn’t let this weakness bring him down. He declares that he is “going to prove that [he] [is] not stupid” and next month, he will take his “A level in maths and […] get an A grade” (44) which no one has ever accomplished before. In addition, he plans to “take A-level further maths and physics” (45) so he can go to a university. This is one of the many important examples of what his mindset is like and how strong-minded he is. He wants to prove to the others that he’s not stupid. He recognizes his weaknesses and his strengths, and he doesn’t hesitate to set ambitious goals for himself.
During his journey to expose Wellington’s killer, he finds out that his father has been lying to him the whole time about his mother’s death by reading her letters in a hidden box. His mother did not have a “heart attack. [His] mother did not die. [She] [has] been alive all the time” (112). This is a pivotal point in the story— Christopher is lead into yet another major conflict aside from the mystery of the murdered dog. This time, he’s out to find out why his father has kept these secrets from him and why his mother has left him in the first place. Therefore, a seed is planted into his head; he has to make his way to London and find his mother, but he’s not sure if he can handle being alone without an adult guiding him along the way. But one thing is for certain— his relationship with father will never hold the same trust as it did before.
Lastly, after Christopher resolves both of his conflicts of finding out who the killer was and ultimately finding his mother, he reveals that he has received an A grade on his A level math test. Then, he mentions that all of his future ambitions which involve getting a First Class Honors degree and becoming a scientist. Christopher knows that “[he] can do this because [he] went to London and solved the mystery of who killed Wellington” and that “[he] was brave and wrote a book [which] means [he] can do anything” (221). This quote on the final page of the book is momentous. This is what wraps up the story; it is the ultimate moment when Christopher proves that even with some difficulty and struggle understanding the world around him, he is still able to determine and achieve his goals with perseverance and courage.
Reason Versus Emotion In Cry, The Peacock By Anita Desai
Anita Desai’s Cry, the Peacock portrays the trauma of a married woman inflicted by a male dominated society. She gets enslaved by the belief that her family male members are her protectors. Once she realizes that they cut her off from their family domain, she turns irrational and murders her husband. The murderous instinct grows out of her isolated life and the sense of her insecurity resulted from an astrologer’s prediction of her or her husband’s death four years after their marriage. Anita Desai’s Cry, the Peacock focuses the female protagonist, Maya, born in an orthodox family and brought up by her protective father. She suffers from male chauvinism. Her husband, Gautam, is the representative character of the same. She, a sensitive, develops an affinity with poetry and Kathakali Dance. She minutely observes natural beauty: The blossom of the lemon tree was different, quite different of much stronger, crisper character, they seemed cut out of hard moon shells, by a sharp knife of mother of pearl, into curving, scimitar petals that guarded the heart of fragrance. Their scent, too, was more vivid – a sour, astringent scent, refreshing as the ground of lemon peel, a crushed lemon leaf.
Maya views the world emotionally. She believes that love is a driving force to achieve the ultimate goal of life. She loves her husband passionately. It is her love that permits her to “touch him feel his flesh and hair”. Maya’s love for life also allows her to “hold and tighten her hold on him”. The life not only allows her to feel Gautama but also “all the pulsating world around him from the frieze of stars silently exploding in the summer sky to the faintly fluttering owls making convert, hidden love in the crotch of the fig tree”. However, her husband, Gautama, looks at everything rationally, focusing logic and mathematics. He does not respect human emotion, rather he advocates for materialistic gains. For him, “the realities of common human existence, not love and romance but living and dying and working, all constitutes life for the ordinary man”. Gautam believes that the world “dies for what is known to us as reality not for ideals”. Life is not a matter of “distinguishing between the two, but of reconciling them”. He views that the ideals like love and kindness ultimately resolve into reality for the man, “a matter of dealing with the bills that come in” and for the woman, “of worrying about them- or of rearing children and paying for rearing”.
Unlike Maya, Gautama, an objectivist, remains against sentimentalism and gets preoccupied with his official works. He ignores natural beauty such as flowers, butterflies and moon. Maya and Gautama have quite distinct perspectives on life. Maya, being romantic, defines love as a reality whereas Gautam, as a rationalist, interprets it as an illusion. He, being influenced by the Bhagvad Gita, is an advocator of detachment theory and accepts it as a guideline for a better life. Maya is fond of physical love but he fears both the physical and spiritual contact with her. He gets furious as she touches him: “he tolerated my hold for a moment, I consideration of bereavement, I expect, then moved away, pretending to gesture to gardener who was sprinkling the lawn so as to lay the dust before beds were brought out”. Whereas Maya wants Gautama to know, to enjoy and to participate her world in which scents and colors of varying degree exist: “the blossoms of the lemon tree were different, quite different: much stranger, crisper character, they seemed cut of hard moon shell lemon leaf; I tried to explain this to Gautama, stammering with anxieties, for now, when his companionship was a necessity”. Gautam fails to understand Maya‘s psyche and biological needs. Despite her effort to transform him, he remains adamant: “there was no way I could make believe that this, the night filled with several scents, their varying essences, and associations, their effects on me, us, were as important, the very core night of our mood tonight”. Maya wants to indulge in physical love, but Gautam bars her: “in his world there were vast areas in which he would never permit me and he could not understand that I could even wish to enter them, foreign as they were to me. On his part, understanding was scant, love was meager. Not to be loved as one does love”. Both Maya and Gautama have different world views.
Maya suffers from loneliness and negligence because of Gautam’s philosophical outlook. She always desires for both physical and spiritual relation. But he always neglects. He always gets busy with his papers until late night: “Telling me to go to sleep he worked at his papers, he didn’t give another thought to me, to either the soft willing body or the lonely, wanting mind that waited near his bed”. Gautam quotes many lines from the Gita in order to release Maya from emotional world. He, accusing her of being involved, tries to convince that involvement is attachment, leading one ultimately to death: Thinking of sense objects man becomes attached thereto. From attachment arises longing, and from longing anger is born. From anger arises delusion, from delusion, loss of memory is caused. From loss of memory the discriminative faculty is ruined and from the ruin of discrimination, he perishes. Maya gets frustrated once she realizes that she does not get love from Gautam. For her, love is life and vice versa. She feels humiliated being rejected by Gautam: “He thought it pain, there were countless nights when I had been tortured by a humiliating sense of negligence, of loneliness, of desertion”. Maya tries to cling to him for love and affection but he withdraws from her. She admits that their marriage is not the union of two souls, rather it is forced upon them from outside. Traditional society stands as an obstacle to get them separated:
It was discouraging to reflect on how much in our marriage based upon nobility forced upon us from outside, and therefore neither true nor lasting. It was broken repeatedly and repeatedly the pieces were picked up and put together again, as of a sacred icon with which, out of the pettiest superstition, we could not bear to part. Maya is forced to continue her fragmented conjugal life. Despite living together as wife and husband, they never share their personal matters with each other. The episodes of Arjun’s letter and the party with Sikh couple substantiate how they distance from each other. Both cases prove that they know each other’s personal matters for the first time four years after their marriage. From the former episode, Gautam knows that she has a brother named Arjun. “Who? Gautama asked, turning over, puzzled. ‘Arjun’ he frowned. And you never heard from him in all these years? Or spoke of him to others? Why not me at least”?. Gautama also understands that Arjuna had rebelled against his father. Similarly, from the latter episode, Maya comes to know that Gautama had the friends like Sikhs, his neighbors at hostel. The Sikh, Gautama’s friend, gets surprised to know that Gautama has never briefed her about his college life: “He never told you that we were neighbors in the hostel at college? And how I used to sing so loudly that he would come to the door to shout at me or send me a note?”. Despite Maya’s understanding on the suppression of male domination up on her, she fails to rise above from the patriarchal mind set. Because of her upbringing in patriarchal society, she has internalized the male values, and accepts them unconsciously. She depends on male, and expects to perform the same role by her father, brother, and husband at the time of crisis: “Father Brother Husband Who is my savior? I am dying and I am in love with living”.
In the novel, Desai shows that tradition and family customs regulate woman’s role in Indian society. Family plays important role in the life of women in Indian society. Desai identifies woman with the male members of her family. Her affiliation with them holds significance in her life. The woman’s well-being depends on her relationship with her family members. If she loses her affiliation with her family members, she will lose her Self, leading to a serious mental breakdown. As Sunaina Singh says: “Since women are both culturally and emotionally dependent on men, any disruption of the affinity or consanguinity is seen not as loss of relationship but as a “total loss of self which is then perceived as neurosis”. Maya adheres to Indian tradition and embraces the patriarchal values. She always wants her husband’s support. But her husband coldly rejects it since love is an attachment for him. She realizes that he does not love her: “You did not want me”. Maya admits that she has the life of hell. So, the feeling of losing her bond with her husband leads her to the feeling of insecurity. Then, her feeling of loneliness and insecurity leads her to her traumatic condition.
Maya gets traumatized and exudes abnormal behavior but the patriarchal society labels her mad. Patriarchal society defines madness at its disposal. A woman deviating from her prescribed feminine role is labeled as mad. It is a gender -biased definition. The women, questioning the existing male values, are often labeled as mad. Maya often questions Gautama’s value: “But I am not like you; I am different from all of you”. Sometimes, Maya violently resists Gautam’s negligence and humiliation to her: “You listen to me tonight. You never will let me tell you this. Why? Are you afraid? Because you cannot meet it? You feel out of element? You can’t bear to be not alone”. Maya’s blame hurts Gautam’s male ego. Exasperated with her questions, he accuses her of being ‘mad’: “This is madness, Maya, quite uncalled for”. In this way, Gautama accuses Maya of being ‘mad’ when she voices against male domination. The ethos of patriarchal culture traumatizes the females.
The novel depicts the contradictions of patriarchal society. Gautama, Maya’s father, and the astrologer represent the principal characters of a male dominated society. The cabaret dance episode in the novel reveals the patriarchal nature of the society. This episode shows how males sexually and emotionally exploit women. The cabaret dancers except Maya “began to clap with the irresponsibility of children”. The same dancers reappear for the next item which is “exactly like other except the costumes grew saucier”. They even present the striptease show to fulfill the demand of the guest. When the show is over, Maya is abruptly ready to go out because she feels dizzy to see such things. She cannot entertain such an exploitation of women. When she is watching, she identifies herself with them because she herself is a victim of the patriarchal society. But Gautama never accepts this view. He always perceives this through male perspectives. The different reactions by Gautama and Maya, regarding the show, also disclose their different perspectives. He does not know why Maya is anxious after watching the show. He thinks that she has a bad effect of that show because of her habit of attachment. Maya clearly detects the anguishes in their face: “None of them looked as though they were doing what they wanted to do. They all looked so sad to me – so terribly sad”. Maya thinks that their body and mind were fallen apart when they danced: Vigorously they pumped their long, muscled legs into the air, and soon they begin to pant with the effort. Their arms they held in positioned martialled into them by unimaginative teachers, but limpy, as though they were not conscious of that they had arms. The only portion of their anatomies of which two or three, at least appeared conscious, were their protrubent posteriors.
Maya realizes that females get exploited by male domination: “It is like passing seventy years of one’s life in a graveyard – being born in one, and dying in one. It’s a waste – a waste”. When Maya describes the audience on that show, she presents them as animals – especially as haunting wolves. Whenever, the paper hats of the dancers are thrown to audience, they pounce to get as if they are wolves: “Once they came out wearing little paper-sailor hat which they threw into the audience with wild catcalls that tingled down our spines as though they were the howls of praying wolves haunting in packs, in the darkening jungles”. Similarly, once she describes the audience again as animals. When somebody lights a spotlight over the audience it highlights the teeth that “greened animal- like, squirms and gesture betraying pleasurable and covert discomfort, it revealed in its band glow such a seething mass of pimps and lechers, of those who imagine they can offered an attitude of superiority over the poor and beats”.
Gautama has a different view than Maya. He articulates that the cabaret dances are as happy as they have the capacity for it: “And they’re as happy as they are capable of being happy”. He regards them as exhibitionists and their show as “exhibitionism”. He argues that the women are not considered exploited when they show their thighs and other parts of their body. He states that they are “merely physically aberrant women of small ambition who think it a compliment if a man leer at their thighs”. They show gratitude, as he thinks toward audience when they look at their thighs. He thinks men have the right to have such entertainment.
Indian society is a male dominated society. Everything is controlled and determined by the males in such society. In the society, women are identified with the male members of the family – either with father, brother and son or with husband. They have no independent personality. Graham Allen pints out the position of woman in patriarchy: “they live in a society regulated by a god-like male authority figure. Their lives, like the lives of colonial subjects, are inevitably fractured or divided. Seen as other, as mute, objectified and outside of discourse”. A woman’s well being is always connected to her affiliation with her family. If she cannot maintain the relationship, she feels totally lost, and that situation leads her to a serious mental problem. In Indian society, any woman without having any affiliation with man is always discarded, insulted and humiliated. Maya marries Gautama, much elder to her because her father chooses him for her. She thinks that her conjugal life would be happy but it proves to be wrong since it does not go smoothly. Due to the difference of family background, age, the temperament and mainly of the different attitudes on life, Maya finds it hard to live happily with the man. She always feels insulted, humiliated and discarded. She wants to talk with her husband about her problem but he does not communicate with her. For him, reading books and meeting his friends are more important than communicating with her.
Being childless, Maya develops much attachment for her pet dog Toto whose death makes her situation gets further worse and reflect her own loneliness suppressed by her: It was not pets death alone that I mounted today, but another sorrow, unremembered perhaps, as yet not even experienced, and filled me with despair”. She breaks down at Toto’s death: “saw its eyes open and staring still, screamed and rushed to the garden tap to wash the vision from eyes, continued to cry and ran defeated into the house”. Gautama considers the pet dog insignificant. He is unable to measure the intensity of Maya’s grief over Toto. Maya finds herself unable to bear with Gautama’s indifference towards Toto: “Oh, Gautama, pets might not mean anything to you, and yet they mean the world to me”. Maya feels that he is not concerned about her misery, her physical and psychology demands: “Engrossed in his busy schedule, Gautama continues to ignore Maya’s needs remaining callously immune even to her physical desires. This is how Maya usually suffers the agony of her unfulfilled desires”.
Maya has father-fixation, and shares a very affectionate relationship with her father. She from her childhood regards the world as “a toy specially made for her painted in her favorite colors and set to dance her favorite tunes”. She looks for the father image in her husband. When she fails to identify herself with her husband’s world, she feels being alienated from the affection that she received from her father: “As a child, I enjoyed, princes-like, a sumptuous fare of the fantasies of the Arabian Nights, the glories and bravado of Indian mythology, long and astounding roles of the princes and regal queens”. Gautama blames Maya’s father for her morbidity: “You have a very obvious father — obsession — which is also the reason why you married me, a man so much older than yourself. It is a complex that, unless you mature rapidly, you will not be able to deal with, to destroy”.
As fully dependent on Gautama, Maya cannot express her rage openly. Therefore, she suppresses her aggressive traits. She projects herself as a helpless, a childless woman, and sees her own body detached itself from her soul and “float away, to rest upon the dim mirror where I gaze upon it from a cool distance” (90). Rejected by her husband, Maya is torn between her love of life and her fear of death. She is stricken with the sense of loneliness and insecurity:
God, now I was caught in the net of the inescapable, and where lay the possibility Of mercy, of release? This net was no hallucination, . . .. Am I gone insane? Father! Husband! Who is my savior? I am in need of one. I am dying, and I am in Love with living. I am in love, and I am dying. God, let me sleep, forget, rest. But, no, I’ll never sleep again. There is no rest any more — only death and waiting.
Maya realizes that there is no place for her in the world of Gautama. He neither understands her nor wishes her to enter his world: “On his part, understanding was scant, love was meager”. Maya turns insane, having failed to repair her marital life with Gautama. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar states: “Maya is at once the centre and the circumference of this world. Her sanity — whether she is sane, hysterical or insane fills the whole book and gives it form, as well as life”.
She is traumatized not because of her female sexuality but because of social conditioning that is the conscious or unconscious presupposition that males are superior to females. The internalized male values make women themselves involve in their own subordination. They also become the expression of conflicts between their traumatic experiences of being women and their internalized male values. Christopher O’ Reilly contends Desai’s importance is attributed to “her ability to convey the experience and generally restricted position of women in Indian society”.
Maya deviates herself from the prescribed gender roles of Patriarchal ideology. Her realization that she cannot be heard in the patriarchy and she has failed to win the love of her husband leads to her nervous breakdown, and she kills her husband. The murder of her husband is also the result of her fear generated by the Albino who forecasts that she will meet either her or her husband’s unnatural death after the four years of marriage. True to the title of the novel, like the peacock, Maya also cries for love, and she realizes that in a deadly struggle in her married life, either she or Gautama is destined to die. She chooses Gautama to die because of her passion for life. M. Mani Meitei comments: “Lack of mutual concerns leads to apathy which causes the total breakdown of husband-wife relationship”.
Thus, the novel tells of a traumatized woman who seeks a neurotic solution to free her from the patriarchy by killing her husband when she fails to win his love and her individuality. Her mental breakdown is the expression of her traumatic experiences caused by humiliation, and isolation imposed upon her by the patriarchy. Maya falls a prey to the male values imposed upon her and also internalized by her.