Author Archives: ScottEisen

Elvis?

“Elvis couldn’t take it any more and got off at the Bar Beach stop. It was a nice day, not too hot, with a nice breeze coming off the ocean, and he thought he might make some money off white expatriates and the odd tourist tanning on the beach. They were always surprised and pleased to see and Elvis impersonate here…” Pg. 10.

Hopefully I wasn’t the only one who didn’t catch on to Elvis in the story to actually be an impersonator of the “real” Elvis until this point. I figured like other countries, that sometimes people take on American names that tend to me non-typical to us. Earlier, when his father, Sunday is giving him a hard time, I caught that Elvis liked to dance, but I didn’t make the connection to the name. I find it interesting that there would be a market for this kind of thing in Lagos, but after some research I found that Lagos is a very much developed city, much like Johannesburg in South Africa.

Soon after that passage, when Elvis is trying to make some money from some tourists or expatriates, he is not respected for what he is doing.

“What d’ya think he’s doing?” said one very large man.

“I think he’s doing an Elvis impersonation,”

When asked what he wants, Elvis says “Money.” and when he eventually gets very little from them, he asks if he has dollars and he is shooed away. This is a great example of how hard it is for many in Lagos to make a small amount of money. I wonder if the names other characters have that are unique, such as Sunday, and Innocent have something deeper to do with them that we will learn later on in the book.

 

Midnight’s Children – Memory

“I told you the truth,” I say yet again, “Memory’s truth, because memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent versions of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own.” (pg 242)

This is a part when Saleem decides to stop telling his story and reinforce to Padma that his being accurate in his descriptions of history and his past. Throughout the book until now, we hear Saleem tell these extravagant stories based on experiences he has had, but at the same time, I find myself constantly questioning what he is talking about and wondering if the history facts he communicates are accurate.

In this chapter, “At the Pioneer Cafe,” Saleem experiences a fever-induced dream about a person called “The Widow.” The role of this person is to destroy children by tearing them in half. After speaking about the dream is when he decides he needs to tell Padma that he is speaking the truth, but “memory’s truth.” What I believe he is trying to convey is that he is telling his stories based on his memory, but that memory has changed because of other actions throughout his life since then. As crazy as the stories he tells are, he believes them to be true more than anyone else can. But how can anyone else believe the things he says?

 

Condescending Masculinity

Helmer. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

Nora. Yes!

Helmer. When did my squirrel come home?

Nora. Just now. [Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.] Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

Helmer. Don’t disturb me. [A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.] Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

Nora. Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go a little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to economise.

Helmer. Still, you know, we can’t spend money recklessly.

Nora. Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn’t we? Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots and lots of money.

Helmer. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole quarter before the salary is due.

Nora. Pooh! we can borrow until then.

Helmer. Nora! [Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the ear.] The same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed fifty pounds today, and you spent it all in the Christmas week, and then on New Year’s Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me, and–

Nora [putting her hands over his mouth]. Oh! don’t say such horrid things.

Helmer. Still, suppose that happened,–what then?

Nora. If that were to happen, I don’t suppose I should care whether I owed money or not.

Helmer. Yes, but what about the people who had lent it?

Nora. They? Who would bother about them? I should not know who they were.

Helmer. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what I think about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no freedom or beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt. We two have kept bravely on the straight road so far, and we will go on the same way for the short time longer that there need be any struggle.

Nora [moving towards the stove]. As you please, Torvald.

I chose the above passage from A Doll’s House as it was part of the opening of the story, but also because it sets the time period, and the way both Torvald and Nora will be interacting throughout. By calling her a name like squirrel I believe that Torvald is already putting Nora is a position of being below him. A name like “squirrel” is putting her as someone who is basically helpless and needs a lot of support. My assumption is further proven when Nora asks for Torvald to come check out what she had bought, and he blows her off by saying “Don’t disturb me.”

A Doll’s House was first published and performed in December 1879 in Denmark. The perceived role of women back in that period was much different than now, and is something that needs to be recognized by the reader. Torvald is consistently condescending throughout the story, but this is something that was considered OK. Men took the dominant role in marriage, and this makes life very difficult for Nora. Torvald gives Nora a hard time for spending money on gifts, even though Torvald has a higher rank at the bank starting in the new year. When Nora attempts to justify, Torvald makes up a possible reason why he could end up losing the job, and what would she do to pay back the debit of buying things on credit. When she says it wouldn’t matter at that point, he generalizes that what she said is typical of a woman.