Dr. Juniper Ellis
May 5, 2015
The Loyola Honor Code governs the exam, like all work in this course. Before you take the exam please sign the Honor Code pledge. Cut and paste the following statement at the beginning of your exam:
I attest, in keeping with the Loyola Honor Code, that all work on the exam is my own; I am writing it right now without reference to any pre-existing notes, books, or electronic resources. Signed, [Elesa Knowles]
How does a traveler find healing or reconciliation, no matter what the circumstances? And what does that tell you about the traveler and the circumstances? Discuss all works since the mid-semester exam, and include literary form.
Despair is contagious is the belief of many a people who endure hardship, forcible change, and immerse prejudice in the early and late 20th century. In the era of Post-Colonialism, a collection of people and bodies of land have emerged from out of the shadows of their colonizer’s influence and beliefs. Although the acts of oppression have passed, the despair induced from inheriting a legacy of violence and self-loathing exists. In awesome turn of events, this despair brings about the greatest hope in the present and future. A traveler who voyages through despair to discover hope is similar to how many authors and narrator find healing and reconciliation regardless of the circumstances in many stories of tattoo, Oceania, and Caribbean literature. This progressive pattern shows the universal spirit to live and thrive on Earth as well as not merely to survive and mourn eternally on earth. This pattern can be highlighted in particular in the texts of Wendt’s “The Cross of Soot”, Danticat’s “Kirk? Krak?” and Spiegelman’s “Maus II”. This pattern of hope springing out of despair through the means of travel can be seen echoed throughout Hauo’fa “Our Sea of Islands”, Wendt’s “Tattauting the Post-Colonial Body, O’ Connor’s “Parker’s Back”, and Kerouac’s “On the Road”.
A boy travels into a prison system and literally is confronted and befriends despair in the forms of human chained for murder and rape. This eight-year-old amidst the chaos is treated well by the men who do not take advantage of his ignorance. One of the prisoners regardless of being imprisoned chooses to define his circumstances through own skin. He is a tattooist. When the boy asks him for a tattoo of a star, he decides to mark the child with this optimist symbol of a star, a fleeting yet intense light on the hand, to convey their new founded friendship. His parents summon the boy; thus, the tattoo remains unfinished. Most of the prisoners see this act as a marker of their relationship. A prisoner and a child would have a dis-connect, but when they try to create something together it ends up a disaster. When the boy’s mothers see the tattoo, her reaction is a beautiful disaster. The unfinished light star is the outline of a cross. In the context of Judean-Christian, the cross a unifying symbol of life over death. A boy leapt into a prison of despair and climbed under the gate into his unlocked home with hope tattooed upon his hand for all to see.
In Danticat’s works, one story of a mother and wife’s response to despair is “A Wall of Fire’. His husband and father commits suicide in the Haitian community publicly by filling up a hot air balloon and jumping out in front of his son. His son’s play was highlighting the hypocrisy of the current regime in Haitian nation in particular its relative freedom amidst the violence of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In spite of being proud of his son’s accomplishments, the fathers sees his own son’s educational success not as an extension of himself but rather his son’s success in a limited sphere as his own failure as a man and provider. He then takes his son’s lines from the play literally and decides to die in fires rather taste freedom. His wife’s response was to protect his son but she does not abandon or disown his husband’s body. She maturely asks his son to come with her to reclaim the body. In addition, she could have pretended she did not know him and grieve privately. Instead of avoiding the despair of the situation, she confronts it and seeks the hope of letting her husband’s life not a single act define him. She tells the police and hospital official to let him have his eyes open because he always wanted to be looking at the sky. She acknowledges his despair that consumed her husband but is not absorbed into it. She walks through her own home that has become the jury and executer of her husband and travels to the place of understanding as the healer seeing the hope admits the chaos.
Spiegelman’s “Maus II” sees the despair traveling from family member to family member. Art, the son, asks his father about the most despair-inducing event of the early 20th century and sees oblivious resistance. The father in spite of having his wife commit suicide, after her brother who was a Holocaust survivor dies of natural causes, continues to witness the Holocaust for his son who is stained by the despair of the past. The father in his means of speech and interview sees hope. Even in the car rides to the Shop Rite he sees the hanging bodies of the girls from the camp, he still smiles and jokes over 50 cents over Special K cereal. He does not focus on his past and even stops his son from poking too much. In the comic cut away scenes, he focuses on his love of his wife and not once brings up her suicide as an excuse for not enjoying the world he lives in the United States. He could have focused on the Nazis that tortured him or the people who disowned him during the war, but he focuses on facts and being re-uniting with his family. He celebrates the world and he remembers seeking letters to his wife, receiving letter from his wife and rejoicing, and his final memory conveyed to his son is that of re-uniting with his wife. The last page is father and mother being side by side unified through the hope of their son created after the despair of the war to preserve this legacy to create a beautiful not a disastrous world after the Holocaust.
The literary motif of hope through travel is highlighted through the perspective of the narrators. The narrators in all the stories chose to focus on the positive and see the forcible travel or restricted circumstances induced by war, poverty, and systematic oppression. The travelling in the mind is chosen while the physical travel is enforced upon them. Likewise in Hauo’fa “Our Sea of Islands”, the narrator could have viewed the insulting logic of little islands in the sea as simply diminutive. He could have been consumed by the hatred and despaired over the forced illogic of the rhetoric of Eurocentric powers. In instead, he utilized his environment rhetoric and transformed it into a great critique and praise of Oceania’s legacy of hope and courage in the context of entire world not just Europe. He did this so well that this article’s hope triumphing over despairing insults travelled all the way to Baltimore in North America in the Unite States, which is an impressive feat for “non-influential islands in the sea”. In Wendt’s “Tattooing the Post-Colonial Body”, challenges the rhetoric of tattoos of being modern graffiti and being rebellious. The narrator focuses on the positive communal culture of tattooing opposed to the trendy representation. The narrator does allow the Samoan literature legacy to be forgotten in O’ Connor’s “Parker’s Back” or Kerouac’s “On the Road” texts. O’ Connor invokes the communal Judea-Christian context of Jesus’s eyes and travelling on a person’s skin. However in O’Connor’s context the unifying aspect is not understood by the wife of Parker compared to boy’s mother in Wendt’s “Cross of Soot”. Even in American road trip word surfing format of Kerouac, the narrator seeks hope in the intoxicating pattern of travel. This chosen travel in spite of it being engrossed in drugs, sex with random partners, and violence is for the hope of adventure and understanding. Most narrators did not choose their circumstances but choose how they react thus their travel resulted in healing or reconciliation with the exception of the narrator of “On the Road”. Despair is contagious; on the other hand, with help of travel internally or personal decisions, hope is contagious in most of all circumstances that absorbs most of despair of any singular event.