Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The Question: What does it mean to be an outsider or insider and how does it affect our personalities?

In Tony Morrison's Beloved, it's really hard to tell what is considered an outsider. First of all a good number of the main characters are former slaves, making them obvious outsiders. Sethe, Paul D and Baby Suggs all had roots in slavery...thus living in a free society made them targets of hate. Sadly enough Sethe made herself even more of an outsider when she killed her baby girl, the already crawling one that we never get the true name of. Maybe she doesn't have one or she truly is just Beloved, as her tombstone reads. Her crime separates herself from the black community around her so basically she ends up with nothing. Which makes her a strong character but also very vulnerable because the only ideas she has to go off of are her own and no one is perfect.

Whose next in the list of odd characters...How about Denver. Sethe's daughter, the one she didn't murder, obviously. She is a very bizarre girl. She is eighteen years old yet she acts so much younger than that. She never leaves 124 or it's yard without her mother. Obviously, lonely she never got the attention needed for a growing girl and so she just didn't grow emotionally. The only friend she has is the ghost of the house. The ghost of her older sister, Beloved. So she's a sad lonely girl that talks to ghosts...weird.

Then comes in Paul D. He knew Sethe from their time of slavery together at Sweet Home. He has wandered most of his life and escaped from repression in a few different places. He is pretty damaged and doesn't seem capable of love or even able to live anymore. Both he and Sethe are continuously haunted by their past. Sethe's more literal than his of course. However, he does end up sending the ghost out of 124...But she only comes back in real form

Perfect segway to Beloved...The crazy ghost being. She shows up on their doorstep basically out of the blue one day. Of course, Sethe at first doesn't recognize her as her lost daughter but Denver does automatically. They become fast friends but Beloved makes it quite clear that she is only there for Sethe. Over time Beloved breaks down Sethe so that she loses her job, eats all the food and almost turns Sethe into the ghost. She ends up being a shell of her former strong self. Luckily Denver is able to break away from this unhealthy life and saves herself. She is able to leave the house by herself and get the help her mother needs but is too stubborn to ask for herself. All of the towns woman come together to sing to Beloved and pray for Sethe's deliverance from this ghost that has come back to haunt her. Beloved is driven from the home but Sethe is never the same. She is a broken woman, who lies in bed and believes she has lost the best thing from her life.

So in conclusion, everyone in this book is an outsider. Paul D and Sethe are originally outsiders because they were former slaves. But Sethe makes her lot worse when she kills her daughter and allows that same child to break her spirit later in life. Denver starts out as a shy timid girl who is afraid of her own shadow but grows up into a well adjusted young woman...and lastly Beloved. What is there to say about her, she will never be in insider because she is nothing but a ghostly shell filled with nothing but evil and the soul of her broken mother.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Stranger

The Question: What does it mean to be an outsider or insider and how does it affect our personalities?

Monsieur Meursault is one of the most bizarre characters ever created not to mention a total and complete outsider. The book begins with the funeral of his mother where he shows absolutely no emotion. He even expresses annoyance with the other mourners. When asked he cannot even give the age of his now dead mother. Weird. Upon returning home he goes to the beach and frolics with a rather loose woman, Marie. Even she, I suppose at this point his girlfriend, didn't know his mother was totally in the ground.

He then starts to explain Mr. Salamano and his abused dog. Then his other neighbor Raymond, the pimp and woman beater. Meursault never puts any emotion into his words; he simply says it how it is. The story never has any emotion...ever. It is a very odd way to read a story and receive no background information or incite into anything at all.

Fast forward to Meursault shooting the Arab. What the heck is he even doing? Why did he go back? Did he even know what he was doing? Who cares...he is indifferent towards everything. He marches through life with his head down knowing the only place he ever will be heading is death.

His trial is a total personal attack on him. No one actually ever cared that he killed the arab, its the fact that he is so strange that lead to the trial. The fact that he didn't grieve for his mother is the main topic of the entire trial. He also felt no remorse for his crime or ever made an appeal to a higher power. His lack of religion seemed to freak everyone out. Because he was so totally "without" a soul he was condemned to death. No one gave a damn about the Arab he murdered but he didn't fit in with societies norm so he had to be dealt with.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crime and Punishment

The Question: What does it mean to be an outsider or insider and how does it affect our personalities?

Who isn't an outsider in this novel? It seems as if none of the characters ever know who they are. They live tragic lives that are constantly changing. The main focus should be on Raskolnikov. He comes into the story a very troubled man, he doesn't even have clear thoughts. There was always some big plan being alluded to. His thoughts drive him to kill and old pawn broker and her sister. But why? What drove him to this? There is an essay that he wrote that places into two classes of people. Those that follow blindly and then the extraordinary men. They are like the Napoleon's of the world. They are above the law. Raskolnikov wants to really test himself to know which man he really is. These ideas of grandeur and being an extraordinary himself secluded him from everyone else. They pushed him out of school, away from work, from friends and even from his family.

After the murder, he realizes he isn't an extraordinary man. He drives himself to near insanity and into a delirious sickness. His guilt weighs on him. Even his best friend Razumikhin doesn't recognize who he has become. Thankfully he takes care of him during his illness. No one ever realized what he had done from the beginning. The guilt drove him deeper still into his mind. He could only focus on one thing, the murder.

Even when his sister and mother come to visit him, he cannot come out of his own mind the be the brother and son that they had once known. He was alien to them now. His odd behavior shocked them. Pushing them away, he acts as if he never wants to see them and only gets upset with them when they try to help him. At this point he starts becoming more and more paranoid. He thinks everyone is out to get him and it is some what true. People are starting to put his crime together, people like Porfiry.

Even though he feels so disconnected from the society around him, he can still find enough connection to help others. He gives all his money to the widow of a drunken man he met in the bar after he was run over by a carriage. He also had saved two children from a burning apartment prior to that. That is the glimmer of hope for his redemption. Eventually his luck runs out when it comes to his murder.

The authorities are starting to notice his odd behaviors and are piecing together the crime. Raskolnikov realizes it would be easier just to give himself up and stop the torture he has inflicted on himself. He ends up going to a work camp in Siberia and finds what it means to actually be a part of society. Because he comes to terms with being just ordinary when for so long he had believed he was something more than that. He morphs from being a tortured outsider to being like all the rest that blindly follow society, but at least he's an insider. Right?

Henry IV Part I

The Question: What does it mean to be an outsider or insider and how does it affect our personalities?

In this Shakespearean play, Hal is the obvious outsider. He cannot seem to do anything right in his father's eyes. The apathetic attitude that he seems to have towards the throne most likely stems from his feelings towards his father. King Henry more than likely pushed Hal away all of his life leading to his poor decision making. We see some of that in the play through Henry's monologue about Hotspur. He wished his son could have been more like the enemy to the crown which was a slap in the face to Hal. The pub crawling gang that Hal hangs out with only worsens his alienation from the royal court.

However, he ends up doing the right thing in the end. He changes from being an outsider to becoming an insider through saving his father's life. To redeem himself from his former shame, he resolves to kill Hotspur. When there is an attempt on his father's life, he and Hotspur end up battling to the death. Hal doesn't really end up taking credit for his deeds in the end though. His friend Falstaff swoops in and steals Hal's glory. But it doesn't really matter to him. He has grown enough as a character to not need validation outside of himself. He knew that he had done the right thing and that's all that mattered.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oedipus Rex

The Question: What does it mean to be an outsider or insider and how does it affect our personalities?

Oedipus lives one messed up life. His crazy parents try to off him because of a prophesy, he survives to live it out, I mean come one who lives like that? He was always in outsider for his entire life though. He moves to Corinth, an adopted son even if he doesn't know it. Then when he finally grows up to become a man, on some lonesome road he commits murder. Who does that? Obviously not the "insider" because that's just insane. Oedipus then ends up in Thebes, his real home. Through answering the riddle of the Sphinx he gets the throne and Jocasta for his queen. My first question about that is seriously? They just hand over entire thrones for the answer to one riddle? Problem number one right there. He has a pretty happy reign at first, after starting up a new family with his mother a plague comes down on Thebes. Oedipus decides to finally solve the death of the old king because apparently until then no one had cared he was gone. The whole inquiry blows up in his face, however. He finds the truth and plucks out his eyes and banishes himself forever. Oedipus was forever the outsider in his life. He couldn't ever be happy in Corinth because it wasn't his real home, he left thinking it was, however. His restlessness was not from the prophesy but also because he sensed something was wrong about his living there. He also caused severe damage to his real home of Thebes. Basically he brought shame down on the entire ruling family because he MARRIED his mother and KILLED his father. What good son does that? Tracking her personality through out the play he becomes more and more self obsessed and he always believes he is right. His fatal flaw of jumping to conclusions and never listening made him blind both literally and figuratively.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Big Question with a big answer: What does it mean to be an outsider or insider and how does it affect our personality?

In this book (which is Amazing!) there are two main characters lives that are chronicled. That of Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay. Both outsider cousins for some very similar and clearly different reasons.

Joe Kavalier is a Jewish young man who just made his escape from Nazi infested Prague at the beginning of the book. He is clearly an outsider in his old home because of his religion, but it's also hard for him to find his home in America. He has his aunt and cousin Sammy of course but his parents and brother were left behind in Prague. An artist in both magic and drawing he finds a niche in the new world of comic books with his cousin but struggles to make connection to his work because he has never even read a comic before. They start to make it work but he is still racked with guilt about leaving his family. This is a depression no one can really understand. His feelings almost segregate him from everyone except his lover, Rosa. She sees his pain but has no real way to help him which just adds to his suffering. Basically in the end his outsider status drives him to his breaking point. He changes so dramatically through out the book because he never really learns how to cope with his feelings and refuses to even talk about it. Personality wise he was always a more reserved man but he can't seem to hold himself together and make his life work because of the loneliness that envelopes him.

Sammy on the other hand finds a seemingly perfect life in comic books. He always knew that's what he wanted to do. Never as strong of an artist as his cousin, he was more the brains of the operation. Coming up with new characters and plot lines. He seems to have it all. On the inside of all the glamor of his new business. His deepest secret sets him apart, however. Throughout the book he is in denial of his sexuality which makes it intensely difficult for him to socialize. He seems to pull away from his life. You can't help but feel his pain, he forever has to hid who he is. For the time period this novel is set in, he has to keep his secret to himself for fear of repercussions from the law. His personality is drastically affected. From going to an eager young man who cannot wait to become someone famous he transforms into a secretive self deprecating man.

However different Joe and Sammy's life situations seem their is one common thread: they both cannot run from their secrets. They pull away from society creating a painful isolation neither can seem to break.

The Odyssey

My big question for my blog is: What does it mean to be an insider or outsider and how does it affect our personality?

In the Odyssey there are a few "outsider" characters such as Telemachus. He doesn't fit in at home because of the suitors. He basically got shoved out of his mother's love because of her never ending grief for his father. So he grows up alone surrounded by complete jerks for the most part. I find it super surprising that he grew up to be a strong man and helps his father in the end. His outsider status in his house obviously helped him to grow as a character and person in the poem.

However his mother is a completely different story, I would call her an insider considering all the attention she garnered from the various men after her. She stays shockingly strong (despite all the random crying fits). After 20 years it would make sense that she would marry someone else but she decides her husband is more important. So it would seem their great separation did them some good to show how strong their relationship really was.

But let's not forget the greatest outsiders that make awesome hero's in the end. The swine herdsmen. Even though they are slaves they still stand by their masters. It says a lot about their character and the character of their master. Because seriously what slave would actually help their owner....unless he was totally and utterly fair. After being put down for so long and abused by the suitors it only seems like a fair trade that they get to help exact revenge on them. They must have had complete love for Odysseus or else they wouldn't have even bothered.

So in the end whether you are in insider or an outsider in the Odyssey your life starts with tragedy but ends in a fairytale...except for the suitors but they caused their own fate.