The Gawlowski

– Wit & Reason –

Creation Myth: Man’s World

Creation Myth: Man’s World

Before the son of man there was only one man; man, a term that in this particular case I use quite loosely, and one girl. Here is the story directly from the girl’s memoir.

     Some of your smartest have tried to articulate my whole part in this but they’re fruitless in their harvest. Accordingly, here is the beginning of the beginning. In the beginning, there was me, Madeline, and the beginning was actually the end of me. I remember that I was in my orchard, plucking apples from the most beautiful trees. I was dancing! I danced back then, yes, and was full of whimsy. However, it was my childish nature that resulted in my disfigurement – the same childish nature that would eventually take my life away, slowly. I was young and miniature, and innocent just like anybody would expect a little girl such as myself to be. The orchard was undoubtedly my safe haven. In fact, it was the only place I had ever known. Now, as I sit and reminisce on the past I realize that the man discovering me in the orchard was fate. Inevitably, it was meant for the betterment of mankind. Although, I do still imagine what life would be like had I not been found by the man. Would I still be picking apples, living in my fantasy world, unaware of the real world?  Before the man, I had never seen anything but the orchard. Everything beyond the orchard was pitch black like the back of my eyelids, and all anyone would’ve been able to identify from beyond the orchard was a pungent and repulsive stink. It turns out that that smell, that stench was a world that I had yet to experience. Ergo, I thought I was the only person in existence. Then he interfered with my way of living. To be honest I didn’t even know what he was or even meant at the time. None the less, he crept into my orchard unannounced, and touched me. Not gently, no. I was raped by him, a man. I was left for dead in the orchard. I remember vividly the sanguine blades of grass and clumps of dirt resting in my sweaty palms, plus the dirt up and under my broken, hanging fingernails. There was massive hemorrhaging, and a protruding bone fracture left me unable to stand,  crawl. My body was never the same after the attack, but I did recover. From what I want remember, it was a grueling process. My life as an innocent, young little girl deteriorated against my own will. I didn’t grow up with the gift of breasts but instead a chest dense with muscle. My belly went from smooth to rough and defined in a matter of weeks. I had the body of a man – of a…god. However, back then I was disgusted by my new form no matter how spectacular, because I had grown a penis just as well. I wanted to die and so I didn’t eat for a year, I couldn’t. In hopes that I’d die a slow, painful death I put myself in a drought. Nothing came from it, except more of the nothingness inside of me. Misery is all that existed for me. They were hopeless times; I wasn’t dying but I sure as Hell wasn’t living. Out of desperation, I picked up an apple and bit into it. It was my first taste of food as a man. Knowledge immediately flowed through my body. I gained an insurmountable amount of it at that. I had knowledge of evolution, adaptation, farming and life. With this new, divine knowledge in my head, I came to and broke a branch from the tallest apple tree in my orchard and without a moment’s hesitation pierced my side with it, right through the muscle padding the rib cage. I then reached my hand inside the incision and ripped one of my ribs out. I planted it, though I was in a lot of pain, crying all the while. I sobbed like a little girl and my tears fell over the planted bone and from the bone a man rose up from the soil. I convinced the man to tear out one of his ribs and plant it. Once he had done so and was in process of burying his rib, I took a large branch and conked the back of his head until he wept over his bone and then I battered him into nothingness. When the next man had arisen, I had to do the same to him as I had done to the last, kill him. No mercy. The process went on until I had butchered at least one-hundred and fifty men. My mind set was odd, distraght and I wasn’t thinking clearly, nor of the future. I just wanted to kill them all, all the men. I thought a lot afterwards and slept a great deal as well. At one point I slept for six days straight. My heart turned ice-cold after I was touched and because of that I despised men. I also believe that’s the reason I starved myself for a year, because I hated what I had become, a man. Oh, how the subconscious works.                       I changed my name from Madeline to Maleky. I hated Madeline, my weak former self and simply an empty shell of what I used to be. I was now strong, almighty and in control. When I would silence the men like lambs, their blood would spill so fast that when it splattered up into the air it was still blue – and so their blood painted the sky blue. The fear in the men’s eyes before they died illuminated the darkness that had swallowed the orchard for so long. That’s when I knew I could leave the orchard and follow the pungent odor of the foul world, something Madeline wouldn’t have dreamed of. From then on I was on a mission to hunt down and kill the man who was responsible for raping and murdering Madeline. I stepped out into the newly lit world outside of the orchard. I walked until my feet bled, and then I walked some more.

The story ends with Maleky finding Madeline’s killer, the man. It turned out that the man had been waiting for Maleky all along. Once Maleky approached the man, the man did nothing but coward. Maleky cocked his fist back and forced directly through the man’s skull. Blood splattered in every direction and painted the sky red for seconds, but the man did not die. People often wonder what happened to Maleky and the man. The truth is that they were similar. Maleky’s rage and impatience destroyed them both. It also turned out that the man that killed Madeline wasn’t a man after all but instead a creature, a creature that the men who heard the story of Maleky coin as the Devil. Maleky went into the sky, which is where he resides and as for the Devil, his presence remains underground.

     One day Maleky snapped his fingers and liquid fell from the sky, and men were born. The men called it water, but you know what it really was. Here is my revelation, I am Maleky. The men though, call me God…do not upset me, because I am in control. And always will be.   

Trail of Tears: Amaru

Prologue

Amaru was an uncommon name to hear around Eighth and Willow – a mostly white community. The town’s people were cruel, insensitive, and discriminating towards the Arab man. They would cast Amaru out as soon as look at him. When ever he could, Amaru would walk the boulevard of Eighth and Willow in the bosom of each day, whether it was at dawn or in the evening, and hum a sweet melody. He hummed a tune, so beautiful, so serene, that even the birds would stop and listen. He hummed just so, that it drowned out the snickers and whispers of the people who had never seen diversity. He hummed for peace and quiet, and serenity. But above all, he hummed to tame the demons inside of him. Amaru’s soul was corrupt. His mind was beaten. His heart, however, was as pure as it had ever been. Still, a strong heart was no mass for his conscience. Daunting were the memories he had picked up from his homeland, inexcusable even, and he would give anything to forget those memories. Amaru left his homeland, to turn a new leaf, leaving behind him a trail of tears; the devil followed them.

Amaru

It was the nicest day of late autumn yet and it was waning to an end. The streets were clear and a dead silence lay over the houses on Eighth and Willow Boulevard. The sky was purple, turning to an ominous, pitch black and the crickets chirped from within the grass – nervously. Amaru, the outcast, was coming up on the boulevard of Eighth and Willow at his own leisure. He strolled at his own pace beneath the street lights that shone like a hail of stars. He had no where to be and for a moment, his burden was light. The chirping from the crickets pleased him. Amaru fixed his lips and hummed a melody into the night.

The harmony, although savored, was short-lived because not for the first time had Amaru caught his neighbors sneaking a quick look at him through their curtains and to say the least, he was disgusted by their behavior. He was neighbored by bigots; the type of bigots that would curse his name behind his back, and refuse to look him in the eyes, the worst kind. Amaru’s pupils shriveled but his eyes widened to that of an owl and his heart began to strike his sternum. His heart ached, perturbed by elements completely out of his hands. Wicked thoughts stirred in his head. The sensation was great, no matter how much he hated to admit it, it was. However, his heart was stronger than ever and he knew it, still, the feeling of being possessed by demons scared him. It irked his soul to a point of no return but, he fought them nevertheless.

Amaru was close to his residence when the first scream shook the air; every house on the boulevard lit up and the people ran out into the streets like clowns, discerning the noise. Amaru raised his brow and looked up, at the fiery sight. He changed his course, almost instinctively, and sprinted for the burning home. The scene was surreal, something he could not fathom. Where did the fire come from? He stood, at a distance, among the white people

listening in on their chatter until a lady burst form the burning house. She pointed and screamed, “My baby! My baby’s in there!”

Amaru looked among the throng of people and know one moved, not even an inch. They screamed and ran in circles. He said to himself, “this is a very, very, mad world,” and then turned his head to the sky looking for guidance but, know one responded. Where was god? He glanced back at the house. As Amaru came within inches of the blazing house, everyone stopped and starred at him, frightened, but with no time to spare, Amaru vanished into the smoke.

The house resembled hell – scorched dry-wall looked like brimstone, the foundation was weak, and Amaru was there. It didn’t take him much time at all to get to the third story despite the crumbling foundation; it was a matter of life and death. On the third floor, Amaru’s eyes welled with tears, he couldn’t find the child. He hadn’t seen it on the first or second floor, perhaps he’d missed it. Perhaps it was already dead. He stared carefully through the fumes, trying not to panic. And, just when he felt his spirit breaking in two, he heard the voice of a child – a little girl. He spotted her and placed her in his arms which were in the shape of a cradle. Amaru whispered to the child, “shhh, shhh, its okay, its okay. I have you. You’re in good hands now.”

By pampering the baby with such poorly chosen words, the inferno grew. Amaru’s eyes turned from hazel to a fiery yet, cold, red color – he was seeing evil. The little girl was not in good hands. Every burning object looked like hell-fire and brimstone, as if the house had been summoned by Hephaestus, the god of fire. Everything was damned. Even the child cradled in Amaru’s arms looked evil. Amaru tried stepping forward but he was unable to do so. His knees

were locked, nearly frozen in the generic hell. The devil was trying to break him down; his past was coming back to haunt him. The child wept along with Amaru; he fell to his knees. A barrage of ashes flew across the room and a flame crept closer, and closer, and closer to the Arab and the child. It was the end for the both of them. Amaru’s fate was sealed; his deal with devil had been done for quite some time. Yet, he continued to fight the demons with a passion greater than anything ever seen before. He pressed the little girl close to his chest, so that she could hear and feel his heart beat, then he raised his head to the heavens and said, “I am sorry father, please, forgive me.”

The inferno went into frenzy, giving the impression that it would burn Amaru and the girl alive; however, it did the opposite. Amaru’s words were heavy. They were heard throughout the heavens, and they were spoken with such a passion through the Holy Spirit and his son, that a bright light hailed from above. The demons skulking in the flames shied away from the light until it burned them alive. God was there, and with such an entrance, even Amaru was sure of it. Amaru felt the weight of the world shift from his shoulders, for he had been was freed. He had been freed of all of his sins and wrongdoing and above all, he was free of the demons that had lived in his soul for so very long. The inferno died down. Amaru managed to get to his feet, though very weak and exit what was left of a delicate house, with the little girl cradled in his arms, still listening to the beat of his heart. Jesus walked with Amaru.

From out of the smoke, Amaru emerged with the child and a dead silence lay over the boulevard of Eighth and Willow. Everyone’s jaw was on the ground. The frantic mother of the child rushed to Amaru with endless tears streaming down her face. She could barely get the words out of her mouth.

“Oh my lord, I don’t know what to say”, she blurted out. “Thank you, so much.”

Amaru handed the little girl to her mother and said,

“No, no, thank you. Thank you.

All three of them were in tears, Amaru, the mother and the little girl – all of them tears of joy except for the little girl whose tears came from fear. Before Amaru walked away, the mother reached out, soaked up the tears running from his hazel eyes with the back of her hand and smiled. Amaru returned the favor and then walked off through the throng of bystanders. He saw at least five or six steps before he heard something, something that he had never heard before. It was the heartening sound of praise – the sound of applause and all of it, for Amaru.

Eminem

Eminem

After the release of his fifth studio album The Relapse in 2009, rumor has it that Eminem has fallen off – that there is no longer the hunger that he blew up by. A vast majority of people feel that his time is up and that he should consider retirement but, that is far from accurate. On the contrary, he seems to resemble a fine wine and has bettered with age (excluding lyrical content). Following a five year sabbatical, Eminem returned with The Relapse album and though it may not have had as many commercial hits as his previous records, it is by far the most captivating. The wordplay, alliteration, and similes are all existent, smothered in Eminem’s personal endeavors, vulgar anecdotes and unique production. Since Eminem has been in the rap game, he has stretched the genre far beyond any fans imagination. What is so unique about that is the fact that only he can do those things. The fact that he is a white rapper (the “first white rapper” to be exact) has no bearing on his skill and he has solidified his spot amongst the highest echelon of MCs. All in all, the day Eminem quits making music, in other words retires, is the day hip-hop dies.

Expecting every album to be like the last is just absurd but, in Eminem’s case, expected (because they all live up to the hype). Eminem has produced five studio albums, three of which are considered to be classics. Very few hip-hop artists have done the same. That should be reason enough to embrace the MC. He is constantly coming up with fresh material to spew over his menacing beats while a lot of other artists recycle rhyme schemes from old songs and washed-up rappers. This is what separates him from the rest – he is somewhat of an innovator.

Jay-Z, like Eminem, is one of those rappers who has made a name for himself. Many people thought Jay-Z was old, washed up, done with rap, forgetting that he is elite in the rap game. A lot of people were ready to dismiss him,

that is until he dropped The Blueprint 3 album, to remind the world why he is one of the greatest rappers of all time. Eminem is similar in that respect except he has never had to redeem his name. His music always seems to hit the nail on the head. Therefore, Eminem’s retirement would be counterproductive in the hip-hop community.

Something that stands out in Eminem’s music, that is nonexistent in other’s music, is the emotion. It can be felt whether he is being humorous, serious, or violent. In the song ‘My Dad’s Gone Crazy, off his third classic album The Eminem Show, he clearly states, My songs can make you cry, take you by surprise, at the same time, make you dry your eyes with the same rhyme”, and his statement is completely true. The emotion he releases on a record is always high; enough so that he’s known by three names or personas. The first persona and also his real name, Marshall Mathers, is what he goes by when he is telling of his personal life and feelings all in a serious manner. This is when he can bring tears to any listener’s eyes. His next persona, Eminem and also his rap name, is what he goes by when he is discussing a certain topic in a most skillful and yet, unorthodox way. For instance, in the song Mosh, Eminem goes on a lyrical tirade about how much he hates George Bush. This is when he can really rock the crowd, getting everybody up out of their seats. Last but not least, the most notorious persona that he goes by is Slim Shady. Slim Shady is insane. For example, in the song ‘Underground’ off of The Relapse album he says, “This anesthetics pathetic, so is this diabetic waffle, and this prosthetic arm keeps crushin’ my hard taco”. He talks about everything under the sun from

drugs and sex to celebrities and murdering (chaos in general) while in the apparent trans. Many people think Slim Shady is by far his “wackest” or dumbest persona. It would seem that way to some people because he is not the commercial hip-hop artist like T.I. or Lil Wayne that show little, if any emotion at all. Opposed to that, Eminem’s music is however, original; rappers like Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and Eazy-E are also original. This is what allows him to place so much emotion into his music. He is an original artist that throws all of his love, hate, anger, happiness, and humor out there for the world to enjoy.

In the midst of all of his wealth and success, one thing that Eminem has never done is sellout (unless his concert tours count). He always stays true to his music and seems to know exactly where his boundaries are. He has declined movie, magazine, and music offers from people and companies that could possibly tarnish his image, no matter the amount of money being thrown his way. In fall of 2009, Eminem declined an offer from Madonna. Other artists, such as those up and rising in the industry would have taken the offer from Madonna or any other company for that matter simply for the money – to achieve the “American dream”. Eminem on the other hand, has made amazing music and achieved great music without breaking his balls for anyone. Not many can artists can say they’ve done the same.

Eminem has made it through thick and thin in his career, amassing wealth, power, and respect. He has achieved the status of being one of the greatest rappers/MCs of all time and better yet, he has done it without selling out. He pours his heart out on every record without second guessing and is always producing new and interesting hits. Today, hip-hop could use an artist like Eminem – someone who can amuse the world with his personal endeavors and vulgar anecdotes. Not only is he an innovator but he is a class act as well. All in all, the day Eminem

retires is the day hip-hop dies.

Faith, the Sleeping Giant

Faith, the Sleeping Giant

     What is the cure for cancer, poverty, and other tribulations alike? The answer is simple; it is the cure for death itself. The answer is faith. In a sense, faith is the trust people place in themselves and others along with their belief in a greater good; whether it is in a God or just simply conquering their ambition, everyone should have faith. It is imperative to surviving and maintaining a peaceful and healthy life, and when one is faced with death, it can prove to be of grave importance.

     Faith means something different for everyone depending on their worldview. Oftentimes, people relate faith to religion or as being something located under a church steeple, but it is much more than that. Francis Collins, author of The Language of God (Collins, 2006) put it best, “faith is not something that you just do on Sunday, but if it makes any sense at all, it’s part of your whole life. In laymen terms, faith is simply a part of living. It is really a beautiful concept; however, in order for someone to actually begin “living”, they must first place faith in themselves. More times than not, people will try to project their insecurities onto others. This is due to a lack of self confidence, which can lead to depression and as studies have shown, end in suicide. This is why faith is so essential to the human condition. There are quite a few ways to convince people to believe in themselves because after all, success is psychological. The method starts off with something as simple as a person recognizing their insecurities, remembering that nobody is perfect, and in time, identifying their strong suits. The method ends with that person acknowledging and appreciating what they have, being positive, and telling themselves that they have lots to offer (Christina Spillane: How to Build Self Confidence). The world becomes more spiteful as it turns and for that reason, faith is necessary even to those ahead of the curve. For anyone struggling with self confidence, just remember the inspirational words of Marshall Mathers,God gave you the shoes that fit you, so put em on and wear em. Be yourself, be proud of who you are. Even if it sounds corny, don’t ever let anyone tell you, you ain’t beautiful. People need to keep in mind that everybody falls down sometimes, it is human nature. The best thing somebody can do in that situation is pick themselves up, keep their head held high, and continue moving forward.

     It is true that both faith and people are beautiful, but faith in people is what ties the two together so brilliantly. Faith or trust in others may be hard to get at first because it is so risky, especially today where even the smallest mistake can cause a major setback. Still, it plays a very important role in surviving and maintaining a peaceful and healthy life. People place their faith in the hands of strangers’ everyday, which in some cases even means putting their life on the line. However, nearly everyone feels safe and secure when confiding in strangers because the strangers they are confiding in are usually doctors, surgeons, lawyers, insurance companies, referees, etcetera, and generally just professionals and esteemed organizations trying to make the world a better place. Believe it or not, they come through time and time again. Studies show that medical care, among all other systems, has held the most consistent success and survival rates for quite some time. According to Adam Pick, Double Heart Valve Surgery Patient and Author of The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery, open heart surgery survival rate was 97% or 98% as of 2007 – that is impressive. Surgeons and nurses take their job very seriously and because of it, patients are able to place their faith in them without too much hesitation. Another example of having faith in others would be MMA fighters. It takes a tremendous amount of bravery for fighters to step into the octagon and put their life into the hands of an

official or referee and trust that they will call an end to a fight if it gets too bloody. In 2007, Sam Vazquez became the third MMA fighter to die in a sanctioned bout; that really says something good about the officials when counting the large number of fighters that have been a part of the sport and the dangers of the sport. On a whole, trust in others is not such a bad thing depending on and in whom a person places their faith. Esteemed professionals are usually a safe bet, so are friends and family for that matter. To sum it all up, placing faith in others is like playing Russian roulette, lethal – but that is why people must believe and trust in others judgment and ultimately, believe in a greater good.

     People that believe in a greater good are usually the most ambitious, or at least it seems that way when it comes to a task that requires more than just a little elbow grease. The ones who believe in a greater good often believe that they can achieve the impossible – in hopes that they will some day become infinite by leading a life of purpose. Infinite is the after life, or what somebody becomes when they have given their all to be the best at what they do and as a result, given something to the world worth. Richard Leider, a brilliant motivational speaker once gave his notion that The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose”. Although his idea is a good one, it lacks something rather important the meaning. Not many people would argue that the purpose of life is to please the lord, and the percent of people that would argue is very small. In fact, in 2007, studies by both Phil Zuckerman and Michael Martin show that out of forty-nine countries, forty of those countries had a relatively small percentage of atheists, agnostics and non-believers in God all below forty percent (Zuckerman, Phil. “Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns”). It is safe to say that religious faith is a major part of the human condition. Religious faith is what keeps sons from pulling the plug on their beloved mothers, with the hope that God will perform a miracle. It is also why sons choose to pull the plug on their beloved mothers – because they believe in something much greater than themselves; they believe in Heaven, the cure-all for everything. It can even be defined as the impulse a person gets to speak from their heart or in other words, testify from in the spirit. Religious faith or faith in a greater good is also what keeps people in their right mind. It keeps people honest, disciplined and reaching for the sky, making the world a little more optimistic by each passing day. In the Quran it asks “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying we believe and they will not be tested?”. The answer is no, and that is why men and woman of all shapes, sizes and colors have ambition. Faith in a greater good is the final component to the human condition that is also taut with self confidence and faith in others, to remind the world that the sky is the limit.

     Without faith, people would never have to deal with rejection. They would never have to put forth any effort into anything. However, with that attitude they can rest assured that they will amount to nothing. Without faith, people will try and use others for their own benefit, but in the end will wind up where they started, in a depressed and miserable position. If people can believe in themselves, others and a greater good, then the possibilities are endless. When the chips are down and people feel like there is nothing left to live for, they need to ask themselves one question. What is the cure for cancer, poverty, and other tribulations alike? The answer is simple; it is the cure for death itself. The answer is faith, the trust people place in themselves and others along with their belief in a greater good. It is imperative to surviving and maintaining a peaceful and healthy life, and when one is faced with death, it can prove to be of grave importance.

The Morality of Violence

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Prevalent in most Southern Gothic literature, violence, especially life threatening violence, has always existed as a tangible way to gauge one’s conscience. In her short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor explores the notion that violence not only acts as a judge of morality, but that it also induces a butterfly effect that often results in negative fallout. Through characters like the grandmother, the grandchildren, and The Misfit, O’Connor is able to vividly express the relationship between one’s morality and violence and the ever-changing climate that violence presents as well.

O’Connor experiments with violence in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” in order to draw the relationship between one’s morality and its authentication under the influence of violence. O’Connor’s first instance of this is when June Star and John Wesley are slapping each other over the grandmother. The grandmother’s first instinct under the pressure of violence is to give an allegory of the “nigger boy” who ate the watermelon Mr. Teagarden left for her every Saturday. O’Connor writes “Well, one Saturday, she said, Mr. Teagarden brought the watermelon and there was nobody at home and he left it on the front porch and returned in his buggy to Jasper, but she never got the watermelon, she said, because a nigger boy ate it when he saw the initials, E. A. T.!,” (O’Connor 120). O’Connor uses the allegory to reveal many details about the grandmother’s character. For example, June and John’s mild squabble registered in the grandmother’s head as a need to recall a time in her life where a man made decisions out of the goodness of his heart. This would later play a pivotal role for the reader in determining the grandmother’s true intent when The Misfit has her at gunpoint. While the scene sheds a bit of light on the grandmother’s moral demeanor, it also makes her seem questionable and causes the reader to subject her to scrutiny because she uses a racial slur in a joke. Being that the grandmother is an old, white lady in the South, using the word “nigger” alongside a joke stereotyping African Americans in a story published in the 1950s, it is easy for the reader to believe that the grandmother’s language carries a racist connotation, thus presenting a major character flaw in the grandmother.   

An Additional way O’Connor backs the theory that violence acts as a judge of morality is in the final scene of the story, in which the grandmother implores the Misfit’s compassion, asserting “Jesus! You’ve got good blood! I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady. I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!”(O’Connor 131). In the final scene, O’Connor discloses the grandmother’s self-seeking demeanor, whereas in the opening scene, she illustrates the grandmother as a responsible grandparent when the grandmother self-righteously claims “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did,” (O’Connor 117). This is where the grandmother loses credibility. Not only did she lead her whole family toward The Misfit to be killed, but she waited until her two sons were shot before she began to barter away her integrity, looking for mercy. It was only after her entire family had been executed that the grandmother attempted to plead with her purse, further emphasizing both the grandmother’s perverted moral compass and the way that violence acts as a judge of one’s morality.

            Each event in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” fluctuates from solemn to sunny, depending on the violence from which it was fashioned. The storyline has a butterfly effect.  Every change in the plot’s tone was often accentuated by a prolonged sense of whatever particular ambience O’Connor was trying to evoke. From that point, no matter the situation, things always worsened. The grandmother’s disregarded suggestion to visit the old house with the fictitious secret panel provoked John Wesley’s violent temper tantrum. “The baby began to scream and John Wesley kicked the back of the seat so hard that his father could feel the blows in his kidney” O’Connor pens, exemplifying the persuasive power of violence (O’Connor 123). With the story winding down, the reader realizes that had John Wesley never kicked his father’s seat, the family never would have turned back toward The Misfit and his scoundrels.

            Although the grandmother is made out to be this pious and haughty yet, respectable elder woman, O’Connor frequently foreshadows the grandmother’s presence as one that is adversely provocative and one that will be the cause of most of the usually violent controversy throughout the story. O’Connor makes the reader aware that the grandmother unknowingly induces a violent butterfly effect that unfolds over the course of the story. The grandmother’s obstinate aura is exemplified in the opening sentences of the story when O’Connor writes “The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind,” (O’Connor 117). O’Connor is cunning when leading up to the Mr. Teagarden allegory, as she writes “John Wesley took one the shape of a cow and June Star guessed a cow and John Wesley said, no, an automobile, and June Star said he didn’t play fair, and they began to slap each other over the grandmother,” (O’Connor 120). By O’Connor writing that June Star and John Wesley began slapping each other “over” the grandmother, she is able to illustrate once again how the grandmother induces the violent butterfly effect that evolves throughout the story.

            Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” succeeds at both expressing the harsh reality existent between violence and its influence on the conscience, as well as noting the continuous, negative, and lasting effects of violence. O’Connor does this in exceptional fashion, boasting mostly flawed characters like the Grandmother, the grandchildren, and The Misfit in her Southern Gothic masterpiece.   

 

O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1971. Print

Projecting Insecurities

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    A hero’s journey is a group of events in a story in which the hero must experience steps that represent the struggle for inner wholeness or individuation. In Ron Rash’s novel, The World Made Straight, he tells the journeys of Travis Shelton and Leonard Shuler, two men who tread the murky waters of their own insecurities in search of consolation, ultimately revealing what they both find to be peace within themselves for a seemingly hopeless past and strenuous lifestyle. Near the end of their respective journeys, Travis and Leonard come to terms with their inner demons to find a place of peacefulness, one reflective of their insecurities.

The insecurities Travis struggle with stem from his father’s demanding yet, unassertive and unappreciative nature. As Rash writes early in the novel, “That’s about the only talk he’d ever heard from the old man, Travis thought as he tested his knot, always being put down about something––how fast he drove, who he hung out with. Nothing but a bother from the day he was born” (7); he sets the premise for which Travis lives his life, which lacks all sense of belonging and direction. His father has instilled a feeling of inadequacy in him, forcing Travis to venture out on his own to prove to his father that he is worth something. Due to his lack of direction and belonging, Travis’s attempts at disproving his father often result in him coming across as ignorant and causing a lot of trouble. Rash exemplifies Travis’s need for direction and belonging not only through Travis’s thoughts, but also through his interaction with friends like Shank, as he writes “ ‘You won’t believe what I got in the back of this truck.’ Shank grinned. ‘It’s not the old prune-faced bitch that fired you, is it?’ ‘No, this is worth something. Get out and I’ll show you.’ ” (11). Through dialogue, Rash proves Travis to be an irresponsible and ignorant young man by having Travis state “No, this is worth something,” indicating that Travis feels his former employer is worth nothing, even though Travis himself makes it clear that his firing was justifiable. Having Shank grin in response to his best friend’s statement is another tool Rash uses to illustrate Travis’s lack of direction. Since the reader is aware that Travis has illegal marijuana leaves in his truck and Shank is not aware, the grin only makes Shank appear all the more mischievous.

 In Travis’s quest for a sense of belonging and direction, his insecurities are what initiate the intention that leads him to a place of inner peace. Travis finds consolation for his shortcomings by inadvertently getting into trouble and consequently, starting new relationships, particularly with characters such as Lori and Leonard Shuler. Lori’s presence in Travis’s life is felt as soon as they meet. Rash narrates, “Travis searched for something else to say as Lori walked toward the door. ‘Do you get paid for doing this?’ he asked. She paused in the doorway. ‘No.’ ‘Then why do it?’ ‘I’m going to A-B next year to become a nursing assistant,’ Lori said, ‘I wanted to know what it was like first’” (61-62).  Due to the fact that Travis is attracted to Lori and searching for a sense of direction, Lori mentioning college is persuasive to Travis, causing him to start thinking about college. This ultimately jumpstarts Travis’s thoughts about college which are further pushed when Leonard Shuler brings up the possibility that he can return to school and earn his GED.  When Travis meets Leonard Shuler, he immediately takes an interest in him, which is evident when Rash writes, “Travis studied the man in the recliner, trying to figure out what it was that made Leonard Shuler a man you didn’t want to mess with” (20). Travis cannot figure Leonard out right away, but this is where he sees a reflection of somebody who, like himself, lacks direction. Leonard becomes like a father figure to Travis because he helps him earn his GED, which opens up a world of opportunity for Travis outside of being his father’s farmhand. Travis’s insecurities result in him learning responsibility and accountability through Leonard giving him the responsibility of taking care of the dogs. In the end of his journey, Travis’s insecurities bring him inner peace in that he finally finds his sense of belonging through Lori’s being a motivating and positive influence on his life, along with how Leonard helps him gain confidence and a sense of adequacy. His insecurities ultimately bring closure to his bout with inner demons.

Leonard struggles with insecurities that reflect the outcome of the false marijuana charges held against him in years past, which results not only in the loss off his teaching license, but in the loss of his wife and daughter at the same time. Leonard is afraid to take risks and make difficult decisions, such as defending himself against the false accusations of marijuana possession. It is clear that a lacking sense of belonging, direction, and purpose are all insecurities Leonard possess as Rash writes, and “She turned her head and met his eyes. ‘Convicted drug offenders lose more than their jobs. But you didn’t think about that. Or did you?’ she added after a moment, her words slow, deliberate, spoken as much to herself as to Leonard. ‘I was so tired. I couldn’t think straight.’ Kera did not appear to hear him. ‘God, you had to know what could be lost. You knew, and you did it anyway’” (155). Leonard’s passive nature and willingness to live idly, letting the world dictate his every move, emphasizes his lacking sense of belonging and purpose.

In his journey, Leonard seeks consolation for his insecurities by allowing Travis to move in with him without any argument. This is an instance in which Leonard’s insecurities begin to take him down a road towards closure and inner peace for a lacking sense of belonging and direction. Leonard finds his comfort through Travis’s presence. Through Travis, Leonard is able to finally teach again, a profession that is stripped from him unfairly. Leonard is motivated by Travis to change his ways from having a passive role in life to taking an active one. Rash exemplifies this after Travis announces he has passed his GED, when Leonard states, “By the way, when I went over to Western Carolina last week I didn’t just talk to the people in library science. I talked to an admissions counselor about you. You can get in with a GED, even get financial aid and work study money” (219). This displays how Leonard has found a sense of purpose. Leonard’s decision to apply to college is a sign that he has found direction. The way in which Rash expresses Leonard’s finding a sense of belonging is emphasized by his insecurities. By Leonard being passive and allowing Travis to bring trouble to his door in Carlton and Hubert Toomey, he gives himself the opportunity to finally bring closure to the question of where he belongs in the world. Likewise, by Leonard taking an active role in resolving the issues Travis provoked in the Toomeys, which results in his death, the reader realizes that Leonard’s purpose is to overcome his insecurities not only by coming up with a solution that benefits others, but one that will benefit himself as well. Rash details Leonard’s discovery of inner peace and closure as he details

He looked at the huge still body of Carlton Toomey and remembered how in the meadow Toomey had said that killing a person wasn’t an easy thing to do. But killing someone was easier than a whole lot of other things in life. Appealing in its finality as well, because it only had to be done right once. Easier than love or happiness or making money or raising a child. So easy you could do it with no more than one finger pressing a small curve of metal or the jerk of a wrist. Or simply doing nothing at all, Leonard thought, just being there and letting it happen. (282)

Leonard’s insecurities bring reassuring closure to his battle with his inner demons.

The World Made Straight not only tells the journeys of how two men in Travis Shelton and Leonard Shuler find inner peace through their insecurities, but it also details how inner peace can be achieved in different ways. Leonard finds inner peace through consolation from Travis, who shows Leonard that his life is still extremely valuable. His inner peace is ultimately represented in the form of death or closure. However, Travis finds inner peace through consolation from Lori and Leonard. Lori shows Travis the correct path to follow and Leonard shows him that he is adequate and worth something. Travis’s inner peace is represented in the end by opportunity.

Work Cited

Rash, Ron. The World Made Straight. New York: Picador, 2006. Print.

Lambs to the Slaughter

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Tropes are rhetorical themes or devices used nowadays in almost every film genre, accordingly. Expressed from the third person omniscient point of view, Director and co-writer Drew Goddard and producer and co-writer Joss Whedon’s satirical American horror film, The Cabin in the Woods, prospers as a black comedy in its own respect rather than falling under the subgenre of comedy-horror due to the fact that it makes light of the implosion of a theoretically failed species in the human race through the use of five college kids, an unnamed organization, and its audience. Manipulation, as it stands in the movie, means to control a person or situation through skillful or artful management. Cabin in the Woods follows the trajectory of a very commonplace horror movie trope, the manipulation of the antagonist, to an unsettling conclusion that exists to coax its audience into examining their own cultural morality through American horror movie tradition.

When the five college kids, presumably the jock, whore, fool, scholar, and virgin, pull into the Buckner place, their RV is shot from a bird’s eye view before quickly shifting to a point of view angle from inside the RV (0:12:51). This not only forces the audience to get a feel for their own position in the film, but it also forces them to see the film through any one of the college kids’ eyes. Seconds later, the camera shifts from the RV’s to the cabin’s perspective, which in a surveillance-like manner watches the teenagers exiting the RV, giving the audience yet another standpoint from which to experience the proceedings of the old Buckner place. Their third perspective is through the eyes of a third entity in the unnamed organization. In turn, the foundation of the film is set up entirely based on the preferences of the audience, which happens to be the driving force of the unnamed organization, whose sole purpose is to murder the five college kids as brutally and systematically as the audience has deemed acceptable for not only their own sheer pleasure but for the sake of the “American horror movie” as well. This setup in itself paints the audience as the main antagonist in the film. Although their focus is geared primarily towards American customs, Goddard and Whedon do this to point out the twisted and flawed culture of humanity as a whole. They implement three different human points of view to not only uphold the American custom but to also force humans to look at themselves for what they truly are – monsters. The audience’s self-examination is discreetly exemplified first in the cabin when Holden, the jock turned scholar, removes the gory portrait from the wall and sees Dana through the one-way mirror (0:15:00). Mirrors in horror movies normally represent what is behind a person, shows that person’s future, or their past. Therefore, to have Holden look into a mirror and suddenly see Dana accompanied by heart stopping percussion and orchestral strings, really forces the audience to make the literal connection that a human is examining another human; which is what Goddard and Whedon intended because it reflects the audience’s self-reflection. It is a brilliant technique used to manipulate the antagonistic audience. Usually in a horror movie it is the monsters, whether supernatural or cold-hearted killers, that are the subject of manipulation; mostly due to the fact that they are viewed as evildoers that need to be vanquished. As with most films in the horror genre, manipulating the antagonist typically involves the so-called victim using any and everything in their power to outlast the victimizer, hence, manipulation of the antagonist. However, in Cabin in the Woods, Goddard and Whedon implement these “monsters” for no more than to initially blind the audience to the fact that they are just as evil, if not more evil, than the supernatural or blood-thirsty murderers. The co-writers final illustration of humans as monsters comes from the scene in which Dana, the virgin, and Marty, the fool, are in the access drop coming to the realization that they had chosen how they would be killed. When the camera zooms out of the glass elevator, which is the audience seeing everything from Marty and Dana’s point of view, the audience gets to witness two humans in essentially the same class as all of the other bizarre and monstrous creatures from their own perspective. It is the revelation of what Goddard and Whedon had been getting at the entire film and by gradually luring the audience in prior to this scene, they were able to manipulate them into realizing how low they have stooped as a people and that their culture, as well as the culture of the entire world is damaged beyond repair.

Usually represented by the white-shirt office workers Hadley and Sitterson, the unnamed organization positions the conventional five college kids to be “sacrificial lambs” for the audience’s amusement. As sinister as this plot appears, it is no sinister than the college students trying to beat the system in which they are placed. The situation is paradoxical as it identifies two antagonists trying to outlast one another. The paradox starts with the transformations of the college kids so that they will fit the American horror movie stereotypes. “The hair dye”, says Lin of the organization’s chemical department. “Dumb blonde, very artistic” Sitterson responds. Lin follows up with “it works its way into the blood, through the scalp very gradually” (0:18:50). The dialogue shows that this organization is manipulating and luring these college kids towards death; college kids who have yet to even become an antagonist. That is until the college kids realize they have been set up like lambs to be slaughtered and decide to fight back, consequently making them antagonists as well. The organization’s aim is to please an audience that not only is but again, for the sake of the film, symbolizes the human race. Due to the fact that the audience has given the organization, one that Goddard and Whedon have put in place to reflect the audience, an ultimatum of “kill these five kids or we all suffer”, the college kids’ rebellious response is seen as antagonistic and therefore, forces the organization to manipulate them for the common good of humanity. However, the organization is just as big an antagonist as the college kids as it exists solely to have people murdered to sustain not only an American tradition but to sustain the murderous culture that humans have adopted to survive. All in all, the conflict between the college students and the unnamed organization is a metaphor for the audience’s or humankind’s self-destruction.

  In the end of Cabin in the Woods, Goddard and Whedon’s trope of manipulating the antagonist sees the audience, the five college students, and the organization come together as one entity recognized as humankind. As this entity is already a hazard to itself, its attempt to manipulate or outlast an inevitable fate is feeble at best. Fate is the final antagonist of the film and fittingly so because it allows a horrendous cultural tradition to wipe itself out knowingly. Goddard and Whedon accentuate this through their use of Japan’s horror movie culture. Japanese horror deals a lot with cleansing the body and soul of evil spirits. Where it translates into the film is where the Asian schoolgirls are able to remove an evil spirit from one of the possessed girls and place it inside a frog. This is where the fate of all of humanity falls into the hands of America and their horror movie culture because prior to the exorcism, it is Japan and America that are trying to preserve the human race. As Japan falls out of the battle for who can appease the audience through killing people according to their horror movie culture, the co-writers reveal that the only way for humanity to truly be safe is to purge itself of its own ignorance and sin. The only way this is possible is through extinction. When Dana and Marty exit the elevator and run into the control room before the organization’s swat team can kill Marty, Dana locates a big red button labeled “System Purge” and presses it (1:12:07). This button releases all of the nightmare creatures, symbolizing a purging or cleansing of humanity’s twisted cultural regime; it is the humans that let these creatures out of their cages, but at the same time, it is the humans who let themselves out of the cage by manipulating their own system, such as Marty rewiring the elevator to proceed into the control room. Due to the fact that they are not satisfied with the outcome of the organization’s shortcomings, the audience, represented by a giant hand emerging from the ground, destroys everything on earth. This giant hand is molten-like which gives off the impression that the audience is burning, meaning that not only is the audience being terminated but the entire entity that is humanity is being terminated as well.

The film succeeds at delivering a complex scenario in which humanity is forced to look at itself as a monster before coming to the conclusion that it is not safe from itself.  Goddard and Whedon delve deep into the cultural roots of the traditional American horror film pull up a conventional trope in manipulation of the antagonist to bench their idea. The multiple viewpoints incorporated in the plot through the stereotypical five college kids, the unnamed organization, and especially the audience, work exceptionally well to convey a genuine message that humanity has run its course through this black comedy that is Cabin in the Woods.