Common Ideas in I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain and and We Stay

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

Poetry Cross Reference in And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” by Emily Dickinson directly correlates with the novel And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard. First and foremost, throughout the novel, the main character, Emily Beam, is fascinated with, “Emily Dickinson, with her 1,775 poems…” (Hubbard 35). Emily is constantly comparing herself to Emily Dickinson and reading her works to get her mind off of her boyfriend’s suicide. Furthermore, towards the end of the novel, Emily’s friend, Amber, stole one of Dickinson’s old dresses from when she was a child and it was up to Emily Beam to restore it to the Dickinson household.

Aside from the fact that Emily Beam was infatuated with Dickinson and her works, “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” directly correlates with the theme of the novel. Emily is trapped in a mental prison due to her boyfriend’s suicide in the school library. Everything she does constantly reminds her of Paul and their memories together. Throughout the story, Emily keeps divulging more and more of the terrible story, but ultimately comes to enlightenment and acceptance. In Dickinson’s poem, the narrator comes to accept their mental pain at the end when, “…I dropped down, and down-/…And Finished knowing – then -” (Dickinson 18-20). And We Stay was entirely based on the struggle to find acceptance of emotional pain, as was the poem; ergo both works are very similar in nature to each other.

In the novel, Paul Wagoner, Emily Beam’s boyfriend, shot himself in the stomach in the school library after Emily decided she was going to abort their baby. This same theme of death and finding the good in the bad can be applied to Dickinson’s poem. At the beginning of the poem, Dickinson, “…felt a Funeral, in my brain” (1). While in the novel, Paul’s death was not symbolic of pain but was the actual physical embodiment of it, the same aura of death irradiates from both works. The narrators are both searching for inner strength to accept the things that they know they cannot change. The search for strength is also a search for peace. The theme of finding peace in struggle can be applied to both of the works. In the novel, Emily Beam is trying to make amends with the fact that her boyfriend is gone and it is due to her ignorance of his feelings. In the poem, it is not clear what exactly the death is meant to represent, however the narrator is still struggling to find acceptance of it. Both the novel and the poem share common roots in the sense that both are battling against themselves to ultimately find peace in struggle. Life constantly tests your abilities to overcome various obstacles and challenges, and in the case of both of these works, life had gotten the best of them.

There is an internal struggle amongst Emily Beam and the narrator of the poem to find acceptance in the things they cannot change. Another theme of both of the works is that you need to overcome yourself to overcome your external problems. Not all things can easily be solved; due to this, you must first become a master of yourself to master your issues. Emily had to overcome her fear of people knowing about her emotions expressed through her poems to find acceptance of the suicide of her boyfriend. In the poem, the narrator had to learn to accept the ‘Funeral in their Brain’ in order to overcome their emotional pain.

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