Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The character that was more of a hero in my reading was Eva. I felt empowered by her ability to judge good from evil, such as with her son’s drug problem. Her ability of a surrogate mother to the deweys and drunken Tar Baby also gained my respect. Although we never find out what happened truly to her leg, I had hope after reading that it was some noble and honest loss. Finally, when she calls Nel out on Sula and her accidental murder of the child in the water, I felt somewhat relieved that someone had questioned about the scene. To think of Eva all alone in a dormitory type room broke my heart.
In the storyline itself Sula is a problematic character. At her death no one cares but one, and leading up to her death no one, including that one (Nel), even likes her. In fact, Nel is the only member of her entire community who even cares enough to emotionally attend her funeral. Sula likes no one but herself, and herself she worships as an ultimate God. In her community, even in her dearest friend, she excites no love, only deep disregard. In the world in which Sula lives, then, she is far from being anything heroic.
Sula is equally as problematic in feminist reading analysis. For despite all of these negative personal and social qualities, she is utterly exemplar- to a major extreme- of a hero of the womenfolk everywhere. She is a character of intense personality- strong, hot-headed, and head-strong. She refuses to be anything but herself. Social norms she throws away, including- and especially- the social norm of womanhood. In this sense she represents a feminist hero, a true champion of full womanhood.
But it takes a full reading to accept this view. Before the tale's end, at which Nel finally realizes how socially transcendent and freeing Sula's strong female personality is, the reader can only see how foreign her extreme feminist personality is. Her womanhood proves to be more villianous than heroic. Rather than being socially freeing, it is in fact socially desctructive, a wrecking ball to community, family, and friends. But in light of Nel's final realization, Sula's impact forces a new perspective. For by it Nel is, for the first time in her life, effectively freed from the constraints of womanhood that have always been placed on her. She realizes she doesn't miss her husband, she doesn't need her husband, and she doesn't ever desire another man to love her like her husband had.
When Nel realizes this, Sula becomes her feminine hero.
I may be in the dissenting minority, but I see value in Sula’s traditionally reprehensible actions. Clearly, Sula’s role in dissolving Nel’s marriage contradicts accepted morality. So does her frequent interracial fornication. But I feel strongly that such transgressions are what define Sula as a disguised hero. She lives for herself, according to her own principles. She bears the contempt of her community that ultimately leads to better communal awareness and establishment of a cultural identity for the people of the Bottom. Teapot’s death and the ramifications that come from the accident provide evidence for my claim: Teapot’s negligent mother realizes her shortcomings as a mother after her son’s death and changes her methods of parenting. By shouldering the contempt of her community, Sula gains heroine status – untraditional as it may be.
Another complication of the word hero, are the values that the person has that makes him/her a hero. Different people have different sets of beliefs and values, so different people will view different characters as a hero or not. From my perspective, I would not consider Sula a heroine to be admired or imitated. I think this is an important quality of a hero: that we see value in a part of them that is imitatable. I don't find many of her values and actions worth modeling myself after. However, if one were to read Sula from a feminist perspective, there are some admirable qualities that can be drawn from Sula. For example, Sula leaving bottom to attend college and not coming back for 10 years would break the traditional role of a woman in 1927. This would break the essentialist view of the time that a woman's skills and abilities would be best suited for her to be a housewife. Unless she was going to be a teacher or nurse, they would probably see it as pointless for Sula to go to college. Sula went against traditional gender roles and essentialists who would try to say that it is natural for a woman to seek her niche in the home under her husband. Instead, Sula went off to college, and presumably spent an extra six years away from Bottom. Then, on her reentry to bottom, she appears strong and flashy, looking like a movie star. The people of Bottom didn't like this, and associated it with the plague of Robins. But feminists might interpret this as a negative view due to Sula putting off an ora of power, which again, breaks traditional female roles.
Sula’s behavior causes the Bottom community to label Sula evil and work to improve their own moral standards. For example, Tea Pot’s mother neglects him until she believes that Sula attempts to harm him. Morrison states “The very idea of a grown woman hurting her boy kept her teeth on edge. She became the most devoted mother She became the most devoted mother: sober, clean and industrious” (114). As a result of Sula’s negative reputation, Teapot’s mother receives the inspiration to improve and take better care of her son. Sula’s wicked behavior causes this positive reaction initially, but after Sula’s death Teapot’s mother reverts back to her old ways. Sula does not behave heroically and seems to do more harm than good in the end.
To answer the question simplistically, yes, yes Sula is a hero. Being an avid reader of comic books, as well as movie buff, my understanding of a hero is someone who gives people hope, unifies while strengthening. Now, in Sula, Morrison depicts the town Bottom, as one that needs someone, or something to force cause and effect on to. In this story, the cause that is directed at Sula is negative. All the negative parts of life are believed to be Sula’s fault. But this leads me back to my question, is Sula a hero? After understanding that she as a person is not, but her presence is, it is hard not to say she is a hero. Because she acts in unharmonious, evil, and even immoral ways—which these seem illustrate her persona—Sula is a hero, just not in an epic way. The reason I believe her presence is that of a Hero, is because once she dies, people don’t have this entity to fall onto if things go wrong. Sula’s presence gave the town of Bottom as reason to unify. The town was strengthened, unified, and morally strong, because Sula was not. If that isn’t a characteristic of a HERO, than what is?
Sula is the protagonist of the book, as her free spirited nature allows her to push the boundaries of what women can and can’t do. By acting like a man, she has shunned the cultural chains and gives herself what she perceives to be success. Furthermore, by acting as a pseudo-martyr, Sula is able to unite the people against a common enemy, and bring out the best motherly care the woman can produce. Her death results in women falling back into a subservient role, and revert to a malicious state. Morrison states that, “Other mothers who had defended their children from Sula’s malevolence (or who had defended their positions as malevolence…now had nothing to rub against” (Morrison 153), which demonstrates that Sula is an enemy for the mothers of the Bottom. By seducing men, Sula had gotten women to step into their roles as protectors of the family, and daughters as caretakers. Without the pressure of a "female man," women turn into abusive witches, who shun their responsibilities that they once so proudly displayed. Sula's “wicked” ways of freedom symbolizes a feminine storm that results in womankind uniting, and her death equals the loss of female independence.
Toni Morrison is one of the few authors I have read whose writing style defies conventions, yet is on a higher level because of it. In terms of plotting, her novels tend not to follow the strict outline of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and, finally, the resolution. Instead, if I had to describe it, her stories hover right around the top of Freytag’s pyramid, with the maximum amount of tension and intrigue, occasionally climaxing with jarring, life-changing events.
In the same way that I cannot elucidate the narrative structure of Morrison’s Sula, I cannot pin down the titular character. Is she the hero? The protagonist? A little bit of both? Neither? It’s a complicated question for a complex character. In reading the novel, Sula’s actions are alternately praise-worthy and reprehensible, and sometimes both at once. In the instance where Sula cuts off a bit of her finger, my reaction was a combination of the horror that Nel felt and a feeling of admiration for Sula. I have a hard time not sympathizing with a character that does something like that because “[she] was so scared she had mutilated herself, to protect herself” (Morrison 101). Don’t heroes stand up for themselves? Yes, but don’t heroes also think rationally?
My gut instinct when faced with a main character sleeping with her best friend’s husband is disgust, yet Morrison does not permit me to hold onto that seemingly automatic response. While Nel is the more relatable character, in my opinion, Sula tends to bring out the best in people despite her own “devilishness.” When Morrison introduces the reader to Nel and Jude’s marital situation, she paints Jude as a man who manipulates for self-sympathy: “He expected his story to dovetail into milkwarm commiseration…” Sula does not allow that, however: “…but before Nel could excrete [sympathy], Sula said she didn’t know about that—[Jude’s life] looked like a pretty good life to her” (Morrison 103). The word that Morrison uses, “excrete,” is a hint towards her opinion of Jude’s behavior, apparently connoting sympathy and Nel’s use of it with all the glory of a bowel movement. Suddenly, Jude, who has been reliant on his wife is free from that ugly character trait, thanks to Sula. Of course, he then goes on to sleep with his wife’s best friend, which knocks Sula down a few rungs in the “Hero Ladder.”
The same could be said about everyone in the town, that Sula brings out the best in them while acting as the scapegoat for the Bottom. If she’s a hero, then her role must be of a martyr. She lived lonely, loved only one man Ajax who left her as soon as she began exhibiting traits of a domesticated woman, and she died alone. Yet, Morrison notes that while Sula lived, mothers didn’t hit their children, women didn’t coddle their husbands, and wives cared for their mothers-in-laws (Morrison 154). Is Sula, in my opinion, a hero? Yes, but she is human, and she wears all the flaws that come with that designation with pride.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Taking a closer look at Sula as a character, she does not value anything external. She even goes on to justify her affair with Jude, telling Nel: “I didn’t kill him, I just fucked him. If we were such good friends, how come you couldn’t get over it” (145). In this statement, she faults Nel for the affair, something I find completely out of line. The only heroic quality I see within the novel is displayed in the end by Nel. Her self-examination and confrontation of her own lifestyle is something admirable, noble, and may possibly lead to positive changes in her future. In that respect, I believe that Sula serves as the spark that ignites Nel's heroic qualities.
Friday, March 6, 2009
But this prose doesn't read like prose. Its language is interestingly poetic and it has a flow to it that is enhanced by questions and imagery. The prose itself, also, resembles stream-of-consciousness type of writing, and Toomer is pouring all of his emotions and feelings into this vision of the 7th street. I find this piece remarkable because it seems to me that Toomer is deconstructing our notions of what a poem should be because it does not adequately capture his feelings and experiences on 7th street. Therefore, the poems at the beginning and at the end of the prose are afterthoughts that frame the prose. The utilization of the poems as frames suggests that Toomer wants us to think of the prose as a new poetic form.
Personally, I like this approach to poetry; it's edgy, raw, and powerful. And to an extent, it captures Toomer's ideas and feelings a 7th street better than traditional poetic forms. This doesn't mean that the poetry in the piece isn't powerful or emotional itself; I just think that this piece is Toomer's way of saying that: "while traditional poetry does capture emotion, it doesn't accomplish what I need it to for my experiences." I think we can learn a lot from this piece and its focus on form.
Throughout the story it becomes a pattern how certain nouns become inflicted by outside forces, causing those nouns to develop new understandings. What is meant by new understandings may seem a little unclear. For an example, in the story Toomer describes blood as “black reddish blood;” this description conveys to the reader a sense of resistance. “Black reddish blood,” not just red blood which is generally understood; this blood has keep its old features, but understood from the “reddish” is that there is an overwhelming force that is causing the infiltration.
This idea of resistance in this play seems to be a common theme, but the resistance seems to be alleviated as a result of the government. However, the government mentioned isn’t the only force that is causing individual people, cultures, and races to slowly lose their true blood (heritage). As a result of assimilation present in this story, the blood will continue to dilute heritage until there is one dominant culture.
While the wood may represent the city itself, the wedge of Seventh Street splits the city – this probably refers to the ongoing racial separations that existed in the early 20th century. It is described as “crude boned” and “soft skinned,” possibly signifying a sarcastic understanding of the deeper beauty of Seventh Street and Black culture in general. Toomer writes that “wedges are brilliant in the sun,” an analogy to the literature and music produced by the African-American community. For Toomer, these art forms, when allowed to rise above the racial tensions, have the ability to escape the traditional bounds of race. However, they will rust and lose their beauty if they become stuck in the “soggy wood” of culture clash.
The phrase “who set you flowing?” is used repeatedly, as if to say “Why are you here? Who invited you?” Then the blood is described as running down Seventh Street (probably a black neighborhood in this time) into all the neighborhood buildings. This describes blacks as they assimilate into and dominate Seventh Street in all aspects of the community. This is significant because “white and whitewash disappear in blood.” This disappearance could imply “white flight” (the idea that white people leave areas that people of other racial backgrounds begin to take over). Or it could bring up the age old dichotomy of white v. dark representing purity v. impurity. In other words people of other ethnicities (represented through color) corrupt the pure (white) society already in place, removing its purity altogether.
The narrator refers more negatively to the blacks through comments about drinking blood. He implies alcoholism through the statement “Blood suckers of the War would spin in a frenzy of dizziness if they drank your blood. Prohibition would put a stop to it.” The use of “prohibition” specifies alcohol is involved, and the narrator describes some effects of drunkenness in the people who hypothetically drank the black red blood. Then the narrator says, “God would not dare to suck black red blood. A Nigger God! He would duck his head in shame and call for the Judgement Day.” The use of the word “Nigger” implies a low view of blacks, but God’s rejection of blacks implies the inferiority of blacks to whites, even in God’s eyes. The narrator implies not only that God rejects blacks and is ashamed of them, but that He would end the world if he “drank the blood” of black people. I would assume drinking the blood means associating with and accepting black people.
As I read Jean Toomer’s “Seventh Street,” I am drawn in by the musical quality of the prose poem/poem, mostly through Toomer’s use of repetition. A quatrain opens the piece and closes the piece. Toomer utilizes repetition throughout, with phrases like, “Who set you flowing?” and “black red blood,” seemingly rising through the narrator’s unconsciousness and onto the paper. I felt that the piece itself mimicked the “unconscious rhythms” that the narrator mentions with the repetition of key phrases and the use of the quatrain. But the music implied does not uplift the reader; if I were to transpose this to a song, it would most certainly be in a minor key. The reader is kept in a cycle of despondence with phrases like “stale soggy wood,” “blood suckers,” and “crude-boned” keeping the mood dark.
But why does Toomer choose to open and close his prose poem with the quatrain? The stanza gives the reader the impression that life on Seventh Street is quick: Cadillacs “whiz” down the street, presumably controlled by drivers who spend quick, with the money burning holes in their pockets. I think the stanza also lends a cyclical quality to the piece. Toomer chooses the word “eddying,” which implies a circular movement. “Seventh Street” swirls, eventually comes back to where it started, with the reader left to imagine that the rich, blood-red life on Seventh Street will continue in contrast to its surroundings for some time to come.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The blood is thrust onto the wood of Washington, symbolizing a covering of government that cannot be ignored. It is almost an attack; the thrusting implies force and combustion. As the blood overtakes the wall, the white is overcome by black. This black flow continues to overtake the rest of the street, implying a complete domination of culture. There are attempts to end this consumption (prohibition), but the pouring is too much. As the assimilation nears its completion, it mirrors smoke billowing near buzzards, a sign of deceased white culture being dissected.
Monday, March 2, 2009
In Katurian’s story, the Pillowman is a character whose job it is to convince young children to commit suicide before they become adults. He assumes that all children are unhappy- and if happy, only deceivingly so- and that their unhappiness will only grow as they grow older, until eventually as thoroughly unhappy adults they will take their lives anyway. He sees it as his mission to rescue them from the tragedies of life. Unfortunately he is often unsuccessful, a fact that breaks his heart over and over again. He realizes that in order to keep his own heart from breaking thus he must go back in time and convince his own young boy-self to erase the possibility of adulthood tragedy by burning himself, the Pillowman, to death. It’s quite gruesome. But when he does this, he hears the piercing cry of the thousands of young children who never would receive the refreshing comfort of his soft and happy-looking Pillowman-self, and would go on to die later in life unhappy and alone. He disappears in smoke to the shriek their cries.
Since the play is titled The Pillowman, this story must in some clever way reverberate throughout it. Its theme of unhappy children is obvious: none of the characters in the story- Katurian, Michael, Michael’s three victims, Tupolski, and Ariel- has a pleasant, happy-go-lucky childhood with a good ending. The Pillowman’s assumption is right. However, he doesn’t seem to come to life in any individual character. Obviously none of the characters fully takes on the job of “designated Pillowman,” for none of them frequently goes back in time to convince young children to die. However, there are bits of Pillowman-personality in many of them.
For example, Katurian does kill Michael with the intent of saving him from later torture and brutal execution. And both Ariel and Tupolski have devoted their lives to protecting children from the sad tragedies of life. In these aspects of their lives these characters possess the vulgar heroism of the Pillowman. In other aspects they possess also his final irony. For Katurian’s murder of his brother only serves to come against him later as providing the authorities a reason to burn his stories, and Tupolski and Ariel, despite their best efforts, at the end of the day are still left with grief and tragedy on their hands.
The message of Katurian’s short Pillowman story- that is, the futility of attempting to dispel unhappiness from the world- thus becomes the message of the greater story as well. It’s a strange twist, and a strange method to reinforce a theme, but it certainly works. After watching The Pillowman there was hardly a feeling of hope or happiness within me.
(After doing some research I found that McDonagh very likely wrote the play immediately after the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington D.C. Perhaps he was trying to convey that initial overwhelming dismay and disbelief in the goodness of the world. If so, this he quite convincingly achieved.)
One of the first (and most basic) examples of this binary comes in the representation of the good cop/bad cop stereotype. We are immediately introduced to this duo and we immediately understand their roles in the play. Although these characters are not as deeply developed as Katurian and Michal, Tupolski and Ariel (good and bad, respectively) are no doubt important to the overall story. In his portrayal of the good and bad cops, McDonagh effectively deconstructs the binary that his characters represent. We learn that bad cop Ariel actually has soft nature; a victim of child abuse himself, Ariel gradually becomes more sympathetic toward Katurian’s plight. Tupolski, on the other hand, begins as the good cop but develops into an unsympathetic character obsessed with his own superiority and eventual martyrdom. The deconstruction of the good cop/bad cop dynamic is important for McDonagh. The playwright blurs the lines of this binary.
Another important portrayal of this dichotomy can be understood through an analysis of the treatment of Katurian and Michal. McDonagh originally leads the audience to label Katurian as a bad person, a child abuser and murderer. His brother Michal serves as the foil to Katurian; his mental handicap provides an illusion of innocence – a false impression that is soon righted. Again, McDonagh deconstructs the good/bad binary by blurring the audience perception of what is actually good and what is actually bad. In reality, Katurian is not guilty of the murders of three children (most would claim that this is good). However, he is indirectly and unintentionally responsible because of the stories he read to his brother. Michal is at first seen as a good and innocent character: he cooperates with the police and seems incapable of the atrocities to which he eventually confesses. However, Michal must ultimately be considered bad – as are most serial child-killers. Again, through character development, McDonagh blurs the lines between good and bad and deconstructs the binary present throughout the play.
Another thing that I had a problem with during the play was that it seemed to try too hard sometimes to shock the audience. One instance which I got this was from Katurian’s name: Katurian Katurian Katurian. The first thing that I thought of when I heard him say this was that his initials are KKK which goes hand in hand with the troubles of the south and the hate of racism. Another cheap shock that bothered me in the play was the portrayal of Katurian’s brother. I cannot say that I did not laugh at the character whenever he talked, but had I been the father, brother, or any other close relation with a mentally handicapped person, I would have probably taken great offense to the character.
Those thoughts aside, I thought the actors, directors, and crew did a fantastic job. The intimacy of such a small audience was perfect with the suffocating feeling that Katurian must have felt while being interrogated. It was a very entertaining show to say the least.
Taking a post structuralism approach, that in which there is no use of outside text, I will begin to break down the play. The play starts off with an interrogation scene of the protagonist Katurian. Rather shortly into the play it is demonstrated how passionate Katurian is about his short-stories. These stories become “his babies;” later on in the play it is more noticeable the extent in which he takes in an attempt to save them. Deviating briefly, the play focuses our attention to how his brother, Michael, becomes who he is. At the age of eight, Michael begins to be tortured by his parents:justifing their actions as an experiment. This experiment becomes a plot device for the rest of the play; Katurian is nurtured, while Michael is tortured in an attempt to distinguish a discrepancy between the two. At the end of the play when the audience finds out that Michael did commit these heinous crimes, it is evident the extent in which the treatment as a child has affect these two men. Katurian kills his parents out of compassion for his brother, while Michael kills the children out of pure curiosity. This difference can be attributed to the parents; Katurian aggressively tells Michael that he is just like their parents, “You killed those innocence kids for no reason. You will now live eternity with mom and dad taking care of you.” Although there are more subtle reinforcements of the self-worth of offspring, McDonagh explicitly conveys this theme at the end of the play. Katurian knows he is going to be executed, so he takes drastic measures to save the life of his offspring: his offspring being his texts. He admits to six killings, three of which he didn’t commit, just to preserve the sanctity of his works.
Although this condensed analysis doesn’t give the play enough credit, it does lay a base for what I believe the overarching metaphor of the story is,self-worth of one’s offspring. Throughout the bulk of the play our attention is directed at the relationship between the brothers; when at our subconscious level, we are being force feed the worth of Katurian’s offspring. At the very end of the play Katurian is executed due to his “justifiable” actions, at least in his mind. However, as noticed by Ariel, the bad cop, the incriminating information divulged by Katurian wouldn’t have been brought to the forefront if he didn’t passionately care about his texts. The final scene ends with a bang, literally, with the death of Katurian by gun shot. He died for his offspring, no matter if that offspring was only on paper. As the crowd began to disperse, I was left with a personal question that seemed rather obvious at first, but upon reflection I begin to further ponder the answer. As a last thought I direct the question towards you; would you give your life to preserve the life of your offspring?
Ariel, one of the brutal police officers, deepens his character through two stories. The first story is his dream of his future. He wants to take care of the children that can't take care of themselves, that way when he is older, he will be adored by children and they will give him their "sweets." This shows the reason he is so brutal and why he has a bigger heart than his partner. His character is deepened even moreso when a joint effort between Tupolski and Katurian lead Ariel's past into light. Ariel was abused by his father, whom he killed, and is thus sworn himself to the protection of children.
Tupolski, the other officer, tells his own version of a story. His story, though mixed and muddled, tells about a deaf, retarded, Chinese boy that is walking on the railroad tracks. A train comes, but the boy cannot hear it. In a high tower, an old man is watchin the kid and for fun, takes a piece of paper to figure out the time and distance in which the train will hit the boy. He finds his answer, folds the paper into a paper plane, and tosses it out the window. Right before the train hits the boy, the boy leaps to catch the paper airplane as the train rushes down the track. Tupolski explains that the old man knew that he would save the kid, just as Tupolski, in his own tower, must save people for murderors. This deepens Tupolski to a semi-righteous chracter, not just a neurotic asshole out to punish anyone who comes into his office.
The first thing that really caught my eye during the play was the setting and stage design. One of the most important themes within the play was the feeling of being trapped, and the stage design encourages this theme because each setting makes it appear as though the characters are trapped. For instance, the interrogation room has angled walls that make the room seem smaller and a cage like pattern etches the walls. Also, the flashback scenes with house are a cage as well because the house is just frame that contains a trauma—like child abuse—and nothing happens outside of the house. Even the audience feels this sense of being trapped because of the experimental theatre, and through out the entire play I felt confined, tense, and hot. I felt as though I was being drawn into the play and was trapped just like the characters on stage. The stage design and location enhanced these feelings of confinement, drew the audience into the play, and helped me understand that an abusive experience traps people, whether that trap is literal like the interrogation room or mental like that of the traumatic experience.
Another element to the play that I really enjoyed was the play’s idea that a story is a metaphor. And I found it interesting that each character had a story, usually in the form of a metaphor, to explain their current predicament. These stories were usually presupposed with the phrase, “that reminds me…” which I felt was the most loaded line of the entire play. But overall, I felt that the play was a metaphor for the cruelty of life—and that can be an abusive relationship or living within a totalitarian state—and the characters used metaphors to highlight this point. Therefore, I felt metaphors were used to explain a greater metaphor that we all should all consider: where does the human element end and the animal begin?
I think the most successful aspect of The Pillowman was the playwright’s ability to evoke laughter from the darkest areas of my mind. My favorite line comes when the characters are discussing the effects of childhood rape on Ariel by his father. Tupolski explains, “Then Ariel murdered his father, with a pillow, right?” Ariel stood despondent in the corner. “Although, I guess you could say it was self-defense,” Tupolski continued, “I just call it ‘murder’ to tease him.” Reading it on this piece of paper, there’s nothing funny about it. The subject matter that surrounds it is all that’s abominable, and the words themselves aren’t funny. Yet, as the actor said that line, I found myself laughing louder and more deeply than I have in a long time. Why would writer Martin McDonagh choose to use humor in his play? I would say it came from necessity: to watch two-and-a-half hours of child abuse, child rape, child murder, profanity, and good old-fashioned torture would have been abysmal.
Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Humor is an almost physiological response to fear,” and this play proved that. McDonagh most likely wanted to confront his audience with this material but use humor to ironically depict it and to make something so confrontational somewhat accessible. In a strange way, the “Little Jesus” segment of the play, at least to me, was made more disturbing because of the use of humor throughout. It was as if the levity of the laughter made the fall back down into the sickening story that much more dramatic. I can see why in other college productions, the scene had been cut. But if it had here, the symmetry and rhythm of McDonagh’s play as well as the fearless humor would have been cut short.
Katurian believes that he will be saving his brother from a hellish death, as he smothers him with a pillow, similar to his previous murders. This reflects the Pillowman’s own mantra, as he kills children at a young age to prevent a horrible suicide that causes more grief than a younger death would. Interestingly, the Pillowman asks his victims to kill themselves via a lake or bag, instead of hugging them with his pillow arms. This seems like a more painful fate, but perhaps a more easily explained one (how would a parent explain a child that inexplicably stopped breathing?). With Katurian, however, a smothering is the only way to go, and a somewhat easily explained one, since there would be no easily distinguished motive by the police.
With that being said, the thing that stood out to me about The Pillowman was actually the audience. The actual plot of the story is pretty saddening, depressing, and gruesome. However, the "dark comedy" as it was advertised, truly displayed itself. Despite the intense plot, I was drawn into the sarcasm of the character Tupolski. Played by Matt Goodrich, I thought this character was actually hilarious. However, on more than one occasion, I found myself wondering how the audience could possibly be laughing at such a morbid play. It really made me think about how our human nature uses humor to cover up any fears we may have. Sometimes, despite how serious something may be, we can just "laugh it off". This is usually done when we as humans, are put into an uncomfortable situation. It made me question as to whether or not the intentions of a certain line or phrase were to actually evoke laughter from the audience, or if it was just the audiences' way of hiding their discomfort.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Ive heard it said that people whose parents sexual abuse them, being a violent drunk, dads who hit their wives, steal, murder, et cetera all have a very high chance of repeating the same deeds when they are older. It shows again the impact that parents have on their children. The parents in the play did an 'experiment' to see if all the horrible deeds and sounds he heard would have an impact on his life and his writings, and they did. He first wrote great stories, and then these wonderful stories turned into dark, gruesome stories representing the influences of his life and parents.