The Great Gatsby Motifs and Symbols

Time and Obsession: F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the symbolism of relationships frequently to elaborate on how love, desire and sex are major motives for almost every character in The Great Gatsby. However, all the relationships mentioned are never depicted as healthy or stable. Focusing specifically on the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy, it is evident in the very first chapter that Daisy (without Gatsby’s character being revealed to the audience) perks up at the sound of his name, noticeably remembering him after many years. However, when the pair reunite in Chapter 5,  “We haven’t met for many years,” said Daisy, her voice as matter-of-fact as it could ever be. “Five years next November.”(Gatsby) (5.69-70) it is apparent that Daisy’s memories of Gatsby are more abstract and clouded, while Gatsby has been so infatuated with her that he knows the exact month they parted and has clearly been counting down the days until their reunion. There is another moment in the scene when Nick returns after the initial awkward re-introduction, he comes back to find them talking emotionally. However, Gatsby has transformed, as he is radiant and glowing, “He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture” (5.87). In contrast, Daisy is not so thoroughly transformed, except for her overflowing tears. Although the narrator, Nick pays closer attention to Gatsby than Daisy, it is apparent that Gatsby is more intensely engaged in the relationship. Their relationship also reflects the idea of change as much as Gatsby wants to repeat the past, he can’t. In the present, Daisy has moved on and he can never return to that beautiful, perfect moment when he kissed her for the first time and wedded all her hopes and dreams to her. Thus proving that over time, Gatsby’s affection for Daisy has transformed into obsession while Daisy has learned to move past and maintains her relationship with Tom, her husband. 

 

Manipulation and Materialism: The characters in The Great Gatsby are enraptured by materialism and manipulate their surroundings to satiate their needs and maintain their social status. This elaborates the hollowness of the upper class which is one of the most important and more explored themes in the novel. It emphasizes the sociology of wealth and specifically how the characters manipulate their position in society to move up the social ladder. In The Great Gatsby, the West Egg represents the newly rich (such as Gatsby) whereas the East Egg represents the old aristocrats (The Buchanan Family). The significance of these two ends represents the difference in lifestyle and consumerism. The author portrays those in West Egg to be vulgar, pretentious, gaudy and lacking in social grace and constantly. This is evident in the novel as Gatsby himself lives in a monstrously adorned mansion, hosts extravagant parties every weekend, drives expensive cars and intentionally rejects invitations from upper-class families just to appear to have more important engagements. “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties, there isn’t any privacy.” (Jordan, Chapter 3) Gatsby throws his parties in honour of Daisy, they also represent the life the pair could have had together, in a big house with lots of money and friends and luxuries. By inviting all the wealthy people from the area, Gatsby aims to manipulate Daisy into leaving her wealthy husband Tom and start a new life with him. He even makes a point of inviting some of Daisy’s best friends, but due to her aristocratical lifestyle, Daisy never comes. Gatsby’s rapid consumerism and manipulating tendencies eventually lead him to his demise in the last chapter where George Wilson shoots him as he believes that Gatsby killed his wife Myrtle. Gatsby in his willingness to manipulate every situation to his own benefit took the blame for Myrtle’s death so that Daisy was not held responsible.

 

Weather: The author also utilizes the weather as an affective backdrop in The Great Gatsby to match the emotional narrative tone of the story. Gatsby and Daisy’s genuine relationship starts in the pouring rain, proving the awkwardness of their refound affection. Their love reawakens just as the sun beings to come out and Nick returns to the scene. To contrast, Gatsby’s climactic confrontation with Tom occurs on the hottest day of the summer, under a scorching sun, “The next day was broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest day of the summer” (pg 114). Daisy exclaims, “But it’s so hot,”, on the verge of tears, “And everything’s so confused. Let’s all go to town!” as an excuse for them to make their ill-fated journey into the city. Here, the heat operates and oppresses on both a literal and a symbolic level. It causes irritability and fractiousness in the characters. The weather also symbolizes Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship. It is when the weather is at it’s hottest that Gatsby’s and Daisy’s relationship reaches a climax where Daisy decides to chose Tom (who has a better social status) over Gatsby. What started on a rainy day with a great promise of romance comes to an end on this hot day on an abrupt note.

 

English Reflection Great Gatsby Unseen

Today in English, we had the first page of our new text The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald as an unseen practice paper. It was difficult to adjust to the sudden change, as we had to analyse the text academically (as we would have to in the exam). My mind felt fragmented as I was able to explain my points verbally to my classmate, but was unable to write the ideas down in a (proper) paragraph form. My point was that the use of point of view has a large impact on the audience’s understanding of the story. As The Great Gatsby is written in the third person, it is in the perspective of Nick, who (although portrayed to be as the protagonist) is simply a bystander in the story which is actually about Gatsby and Daisy. The perspective of Nick (the narrator) is essentially flawed, as it exposes his personal opinions, thoughts and experiences to the reader, which influences their perception of the conflict (However, the same could have been said for all of the characters assuming the that book was written from the other characters’ perspectives as well). For example, in this text, Nick mentions something his father said, “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” – this line makes the reader self-conscious about the way they perceive people. This also conveys that Nick is going to maintain an impartial stance in his narration of the story. Yet, as the passage progresses, this perspective changes as Nick first claims “I’m inclined to reserve all judgments” but later says, “I come to the admission that it has a limit”. This change in opinion as the narrator is unsettling as the audiences’ opinion changes in accordance with Nick’s. The use of point of view has a large impact on audiences as, if there is only one point of view, the audience is forced to follow the narrator’s thoughts and look through a single lens. Whereas, if there are multiple perspectives, the audience is allowed to witness the same scene through various standpoints. Hence to improve my writing skills in structured timed essay forms, I will have to practice more regularly with the texts I have now. 

Book Club: The Outsider

This weekend I read The Outsider by Albert Camus. While I read the book, the title resonated with me as it reminded me of how people are bounded by the standards and expectations of society, standards that are set by peers and family alike. When people don’t follow certain standards, they are immediately cast aside as ‘outsiders’. The book focuses on the theme of individual vs society, the power struggles between the two for supremacy, a theme that is prevalent in other novels. In my mind, I find the book to be similar to The Great Gatsby where Jay purposely hosts such large parties, just to find Daisy and tempt her to have another life with him – he seems to be courting society not because society is important to him but because he wants to build a life with Daisy away from society. It is also similar to A Clockwork Orange where Alex rapes and kills a woman with his friends without any remorse and refuses to accept the carnal nature of his crimes. His only connection with society or humanity was Beethoven’s music, but eventually, in the psychiatric ward he was placed in, music was taken away from him and that is what devastates him. Another representation of straying away from society’s expectations is Marlow from Heart of Darkness who ventures further into the African heartland towards a more primitive society, where he finally finds himself. However, what is common between all of these characters (except maybe Gatsby) is that by the end of their trials with society, they always find a reason to convince themselves that what they are doing is right –  for example, Alex holds onto his music which essentially allows him to think of vulgar deeds just as Meursault at the end consoles himself with the thought, “For the final consummation and for me to feel less lonely, my last wish was that there should be a crowd of spectators at my execution and that they should greet me with cries of hatred.”

 

Something I found fascinating in this book is how absurd society really is. I found it threatening that we think of ourselves as members of our society, yet we cannot live in one that behaves absurdly. We find it difficult to live up to the norms because we create these norms in accordance with social standards that are different from our individual preferences. The society is a collective, a sort of cooperative that cannot accommodate the quirks and idiosyncrasies of each individual. Consequently, there is a distance between the individual and society, much like what happens to Meursault. 

 

Just in the first scene, Meursault finds himself to be unresponsive to his mother’s death, “Mother passed away. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.” The same insensitivity is at work during one of his dates with his girlfriend, Marie, ” A minute later she asked me if I loved her. I told her that it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so. She looked sad.”  He appears even more sadistic in the pivotal scene when he shoots the Arab who abused his friend, Raymond’s mistress, “And fired four more times at a lifeless body and bullets sank in without leaving a mark.” The world that Camus portrays is actually our world, where relationships are meaningless, humanity is dead and society doesn’t hold any standards. Where the only positive is the honesty with which Meursault clings onto his insensitivity. That’s the only trait that redeems this character and the society he lives in. 

Book Club: Memoirs of my Melancholy Whores

This afternoon I decided to read Memoirs of my Melancholy Whores by Columbian author Gabriel García Márquez. Interestingly, he wrote this when he was 77, obviously at a ripe old age by when he had got to see quite a bit of life. A book of a mere 115 pages, shorter than an anthology of poems, the book really stirred me up. Firstly, it did not traumatize me as I had expected, a book on the relationship between a 91-year-old and a 14-year-old would. I just seemed to get it. Secondly, I felt the book is not at all about the two main characters – the scholar/maestro/narrator and the young girl who he calls Delgadina but, it is his comment about the concept of love and its boundaries. Thirdly, it’s the narrative style which reads almost like a college student’s diary, without the dates but with enough details to explain the chronology. It’s an easy read like maybe a John Green and yet it tells a story that verges on a fantasy. A story of finding love between the ages of 90 and 100, somewhere in strife-torn Columbia. 

 

Very early on in the book, its the narrator’s 90th birthday and he wants to gift himself a night of love with a virgin and sets about looking for a box of treasures and says, “No old man forgets where he has hidden his treasure.” The treasure that he refers to is his book full of the names and addresses of the prostitutes he has slept with in his past life. Although I felt I should be shocked, I wasn’t. Instead, I realized that “treasure” could actually refer to anything – a gift, something personal, an expensive inheritance but in this case, it’s a list of whores which means that illicit/paid relationships can also be precious. The narrator is a man who seeks a paid night out as a way to feel the power that he doesn’t have as a low-wage, aged journalist who is obviously at the end of his career and life. This is why Rosa, the brothel manager asks, “What are you trying to prove?”. Frankly, it is slightly pathetic that on his 90th birthday the only thing that appears “magical” to him is the idea of having paid sex with a young virginal girl. And the ironical part of it is, he decides to call her Delgadina which refers to a Mexican folk song about a young lady who disobeys her father’s wish to be his wife, ending with her tragic death. This implies that he is aware of the drastic age difference and the perversion of it all. And yet, he falls inexplicably and obsessively in love with her. But despite his love, does he really get over his solitude? He says on page 71, when they are quite deeply involved in the relationship, “Dear girl, we’re alone in the world.”  This could work in both ways – he could be referring to the fact that society would ostracise them for their illicit love but also that despite the love and a relationship, every individual remains alone. Whereas the narrator puts in so much effort into the relationship and takes so much care of Delgadina, she just seems to sleep through it all. Even on the day of her birthday when he visits her, he describes her beauty in sleep. It seems just as the narrator does not want to know her real name, he doesn’t want to get to really know her either. Maybe, he doesn’t want her to lose her innocence and maybe he is more in love with the idea of love than he is with her. By the end of the 10 years though, he is finally ready for death, having experienced love, “It was, at last, real life, with my heart safe and condemned to die of happy love in the joyful agony of any day after my hundredth birthday” 

 

I liked the book because it cancelled every stereotype that I could think of. While in Lolita which I had read last year, the author Vladimir Nabokov seeks to create a new stereotype of a pedophile with a love interest in his own stepdaughter, in this book, Garcia Márquez is actually destroying every hierarchy and archetype that controls our mind. This includes age boundaries, society’s perception of prostitutes, the whole idea of not living your life till it is too late and the play of power between genders – whereas the narrator is the one with the power as Delgadina’s customer, it is actually she who has the power as he is almost willing to do anything to keep her in his life. 

“Teller-Proof” Stories Gore by Sarah Ellis

Gore by Sarah Ellis

 

 

Twins are known to have a very special bond. From the moment of their birth they are so identical they are almost equivalent to soulmates. Their relationship is linked by feelings of love and kinship which makes both halves feel like the same individual. It is said that twins that were separated at birth and meet as adults are able to discover an absurd amount of coincidences in their lives. They have more in common than they think, from the names of their wives and children to the clothes that their best men wore at their wedding. They’ll come to realize that they have the same breed of pets and use the same specific brand of toiletries. Thus, proving that the relationship between twins is one of the strongest connections in the world. 

 

What a load of horse crap. 

 

Soul-mate? Confidante?

 

 God forbid. 

 

Amy can’t even fathom that she and Lucas are in the same family, let alone being twins. To tell the truth, she can’t even believe that they’re the same species. In her eyes, Lucas is essentially an ‘unevolved thugoid’ and a detestable sibling. Amy is almost too sure that Lucas managed to obtain all of the nutrition in the womb, making him stronger, faster and bigger leaving her frail and incapacitated. However, as the years have passed, Amy’s two areas of superior power are her extensive vocabulary and her gift for voice impersonation. 

 

Lucas attacks without provocation. The other day, Amy was sitting reading. She was finally able to read a copy of R.L Tankard from the library. The story is essentially about this girl who has a babysitting job in an apartment building on the twenty-sixth floor. When she arrives at the apartment, the baby is already asleep, so she hasn’t seen it yet. While watching TV, she thinks she hears a noise from the baby’s room….

 

She muted the TV for a minute and in the sudden silence, she heard the noise again, but louder. It was a heavy wet noise, like the sound of a big piece of raw meat being flung to the floor. She stared at the door to the nursery. It was outlined in a band of crepuscular light. She stood up and, with her heart pounding in her ears, she approached the room-

 

SMACK! 

 

Lucas leans over and snatched the book from Amy’s hands and runs in the bathroom, the sound of the closing door, echoing through the house. Amy pleads to have her book back as Lucas threatens to rip the pages of the book one by one, and flush them down the toilet. 

 

Amy tries to deal with him, even going as far as to doing his chores. However, Lucas, microbrain that he is, isn’t falling for it. After attempting to convince Lucas to return her book, she collapses on the couch in despair. Amy feels weaponless, like a —. 

 

Well, not quite. 

 

Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door. Amy rushes to answer the door, as the knocking grows louder. There are two, no, three of them. Faceless, hooded beings crowded together, pressed up against the door. This is Amy’s first mistake, leaving the door open a split second too late to slam the door. They are inside. They are silent. Amy rushes to the bathroom door, violently pushing at the handle, begging to be let it. Lucas laughs from inside as the hooded figures slowly make their way towards Amy. 

 

A cold sweat breaks out over Amy’s body. The hooded figure’s icy fingers wrap around her wrist, slowly dragging her away from the door, her hand slipping from the handle, nails scratching against the surface of the floor. The door rattles. 

 

Amy’s bloodcurdling scream leaves Lucas silent behind the door. She escapes from the figure’s grasp, beating its masked face. Chairs and side tables fall as she crashes past them. Magazines fly through the air and crash against the walls. She dashes to the telephone just outside the hall and dials Emergency. After a century of rings, someone finally answers. 

 

“Do you wish police, ambulance or fire?”

 

Amy is choked with sobs as she begs for the police. 

 

Click. The line goes dead. Amy drops the receiver as the cold, wet fingers wrap around her neck. Paralyzed with fear Amy drops to the ground like a stone and buries her face with her hands. The bitter cold courses through Amy’s body, forcing her to become one of them. With her last breath, she begs “Lucas, break the window. Get out. For pity’s sake, don’t come out here.” 

 

Then silence. The only sound is the telephone receiver thudding against the wall. 

 

Lucas calls out to her, to receive no response. His voice shrinks as he calls her name. The telephone’s humanoid voice rings through the noiseless hall. 

 

The bathroom door opens slowly. Amy sits, curled up behind it. She holds her breath. Two steps, that’s all she needs. Two steps. 

 

“Amy?”

 

Two steps it is. Amy grabs the door, swinging around it, jumping into the bathroom and turning the lock. Success! Victory! Amy settles down on the bathroom floor, holding the book to her chest. She catches her breath and frantically flips through the pages. 

 

So, what was in the baby’s room?

 

Independent Reading (Imagine Me Gone) and Fun Home

Over the last couple of weeks, I finished reading a couple of books, Imagine me gone (Adam Haslett), A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess) and Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (JRR. Tolkein). 

 

Imagine Me Gone is essentially about a depressed man who to a certain extent is unable to find happiness as the people around him constantly let him down. The protagonist Michael finds it impossible to find a lover due to his mental condition which he inherited from his late father. He becomes obsessed with women who are unattainable because they are married or lesbians. His obsession causes them to avoid him at times. This increases his anxiety. He also has problems getting into college and later graduate school. While he finally gets in both, he does not finish. He drops out of college and a mental breakdown forces him to leave graduate school and move in with his mother. Throughout his life, he has taken out loans with no prospects of being able to pay them back. This also adds to his anxiety. Medication is the only thing that allows him to cope, but the more medication he takes, the more he needs. When Michael has anxiety attacks, he turns to his family for help. They attempt to support him as he chases after the girls who do not show up for dates and he feels as though he cannot breathe. Supporting him often means ignoring others or comes at a financial expense. At the same time, they are trying to manage their own lives. His sister, Celia is not happy with her current job and has problems committing to her live-in boyfriend. While his brother, Alec is gay and also has commitment issues. Michael’s inability to pay back his loans burdens his mother. Alec decides to intervene and proposes to help Michael slowly get off his medication. Michael agrees to give it a try as he wants what his family want for him. However, Michael cannot cope without his medication and dies, leaving a message for his family, where they finally understand him. Michael’s life has a very obvious connection with Fun Home’s Bruce Bechdel. Fun Home hones in on how Alison and Bruce are only able to connect in the later part of her teenage years through her love of books. The book focuses on the relationship and the possible causes that led to Bruce’s suicidal death as well as aspects of him that Alison did not know as a child. This is similar to Michael’s siblings who are unable to completely understand his problems, not until he dies. The misunderstanding between Michael and his family is equally evident in the relationship between Alison and her father where Bruce built walls around himself to hide or imprison himself behind. Like Bruce, Michael seems to be lost behind those walls and bursts out in various monstrous ways but never seems at ease with who he is.

A Low Art from the Penelopiad (2006) by Margaret Atwood

In the prose A Low Art, from The Penelopiad (2006), Margaret Atwood’s creative retelling of The Odyssey is a monologue of Penelope’s point of view in the first person. Atwood conveys Penelope’s escape from her oppression and her life with Odysseus. 

 

The conflict in this prose is Penelope’s frustration of having to be bound to a life with Odysseus while she was alive. It is a monologue of her realization where she regrets not understanding Odysseus’ true nature, “He got away with everything, which was another of his specialities: getting away”. She describes her husband as tricky and a liar, yet she had only realized this once she was nothing but in a state of “bonelessness, listlessness, breathlessness.” where she realizes her mistakes in refusing to see the darker side of her relationship with Odysseus. The monologue shows the amount of freedom Penelope now has, but only after her death. However, Atwood is not only highlighting the intense amount of oppression Penelope experienced but she is also discussing how it is often that women, in general, are subjected to living to submission or docility. She is describing how her defences were fragile and brittle as she played the role of an oppressed woman who, “kept my mouth shut” and “didn’t dig deep”. Penelope fell into an abyss which gave her a fabricated “happy ending” where she would shut out anything that told her otherwise, 

 

Due to this, her action of “keeping the right doors locked”, later led her to realize that because she refused to speak out against Odysseus, she began to have no spine of her own, or as she mentions, she had no mouth through which she could speak. Penelope’s circumstance of realising her mistakes so late allowed certain truths to be revealed, truths which she herself (when alive) did not want to accept. She also realizes that her action of resisting the temptation of seduction from other suitors created a stereotype for all women, that they must always be obedient and faithful. Her life’s example was a “stick used to beat other women with”, it became a story for yarn-spinners to spin into a perfect stereotype for women. 

 

The monologue which is in a passive-aggressive tone is essentially a moral lesson for Penelope as she realizes her faults during her lifetime. 

 

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer (1816) By John Keats

 

Following the conventional form of a sonnet, which is often used to express love, Keats expresses his admiration for Chapman’s version of Homer’s epic “The Odyssey”. Keats uses his poem as an opportunity to express the importance of appreciating poems which touch and deeply move a reader. In the poem, he explains how through the many “goodly states and kingdoms seen” he was able to find something in the literary world which satisfied him and gave him a reason to continue searching for more stories to unravel. More importantly, how he was yet to find more poems which would give him the creative satisfaction he craved. He expresses that of all the different things he has seen, he was never able to “breathe its pure serene” admitting that he was unable to find fulfilment until Chapman’s Homer.  

 

In poetry, he has found the gold that Cortez, and the other conquistadors he had read about in William Robertson’s History of America, which Cortez had searched for so hastily. He also alludes to the fact that Cortez is “stout,” that is, fearless, and that he is alert, “with eagle eyes.” So much so that his men stand about him in silent awe, looking “at each other with a wild surmise.” Keats secures this idea to help express his own feelings of having made a discovery with the world of poetry. 

 

Keats expresses his appreciation of Chapman’s version through the line, “felt I like some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken;” alluding that he was finally able to find something he was able to hold on to. He was able to find something which brought a new perspective to his life because of the way it was revealed. The word “skies” implying that the version had broadened his perspective and that he was it was like heaven, giving him a realm better than those of gold. Keats is now able to venture and explore with his new discovery and this new world he has discovered for himself, allowing him to treat literature in ways that he hasn’t before.

Fathers and Sons: The Odyssey

The Odyssey

Fathers and Sons 

Ananya Sengupta 

 

The Odyssey has many life learnings. There is an extensive number of themes which are represented through the twenty-four stories. However, a theme that interests me the most is the relationship between father and son. Throughout the epic, it is clear that the father and son relationship is one of the most treasured relationships to the Greek people. Although the story is about Odysseus’ homecoming, there are multiple father and son relationships which are affected due to his absence. 

 

As Odysseus is the protagonist of the story, the most noticeable father and son relationship is between Telemachus and Odysseus. However, the least prominent relationship would be between Poseidon and his Cyclops son, Polyphemus. In this story, fathers and sons stand up for each other and support one another. For some reason, whether they have just met each other for the first time, or have known each other for a long time, fathers and sons feel obligated to protect each other. 

 

This interaction can be seen between Polyphemus and his father Poseidon. Polyphemus was blinded by Odysseus and didn’t want Odysseus to get away with what he has done. However, because he was blind he couldn’t punish Odysseus himself. Hence, he called out Poseidon for help. Although the intensity of their relationship is unexplored, it is assumed that they don’t know each other personally as Polyphemus says, “Listen, Earth-Shaker, Blue-Haired Lord Poseidon: acknowledge me your son, and be my father. Grant that Odysseus, the city-sacker will never go back home…”(9-530). Nevertheless, even though they don’t know each other, Poseidon takes action and helps his son. Poseidon hears Polyphemus’ prayer and almost destroys Odysseus’ ship. Ever since then, Poseidon has held a grudge towards Odysseus and makes sure that the protagonist will suffer before he manages to reach home. The father and son relationship shows that no matter the conditions, they will always stick together. 

 

Another example of father and son relationships is the most prominent bond, Odysseus and his son Telemachus. In the Odyssey, the father and son spend a lot of time apart and it is through their distance, that they develop respect and appreciation for one another. In this case, Odysseus built the distance by being away from home for twenty years. Telemachus decided to go on a journey and look for Odysseus. It is during this journey that Telemachus is able to prove his worth to his father. The unique bond between them strengthens as Telemachus “desired to connect all along” (285) with his father. Telemachus never wanted to believe that his father was dead and when the opportunity offered itself, he risked it all to find him. Through Telemachus’ story, Odysseus saw himself in his son. There are some secrets which may not be sufficiently articulated by the father but are visible to their sons because of their natural bond. 

 

According to Homer, every man should have a son who should avenge for him when he is not present. A son should look at his father as his role model whereas the father should protect his son from any harm. In this case, Odysseus protects Telemachus by killing the suitors while Telemachus does all he can to help out, and make sure that they succeeded.

 

Lastly, I feel that the most important “father-son” relationship is between Telemachus and Eumaeus. Although Eumaeus is a humble swineherd, after Telemachus’ return he exclaims, “Sweet light! You have come back, Telemachus. I thought that I would never see you anymore, after you sailed to Pylos. My dear child, come in, let me enjoy the sight of you now you are back.”(16-25). To which Telemachus responded with “Grandpa, yes” suggesting that as Odysseus was not present in Telemachus’ upbringing, there was an alternate father figure, that being Eumaeus the swineherd. In this scene, Homer portrayed how although his actual father Odysseus was absent, there were other fatherlike figures who were supportive of Telemachus. Thus proving that the relationship between “father and son” will always be present between men and boys regardless of the circumstances.  

 

Telemachus’ journey to adulthood was incomplete and slow, making him the most vulnerable member in his family: as the suitors plot to murder him. Although physically, Telemachus is of age, he seems to lack psychological maturity as he did not have the support of his father. In the course of finding his biological father, Telemachus meets two-alternative father figures, the controlling Nestor and the rich and narcissistic Menelaus. Incidentally, both of these men who echo traits which are present in Odysseus. They teach Telemachus the skill of hospitality which is an essential aspect of “elite masculine adulthood”. However, only his real father Odysseus can help Telemachus achieve what he wants which is a position of greater power in his own household. 

 

In this story, fathers and sons connect over revenge or vengeance. When Odysseus ultimately tells Telemachus who he really is, the two men share an embrace and immediately begin to discuss how to enact their revenge. Odysseus and Telemachus’ bond over vengeance and this is the ultimate connection to their relationship, similar to Poseidon supporting Polyphemus by taking revenge on Odysseus.  

*Odysseus meets his father Laertes after returning home.

The reason why I have included this particular illustration (drawn by me) is because it represents all the elements of the father-son relationship I have mentioned in my essay. For instance, like Odysseus, Laertes too had missed a lot of time with his son. However, he still supported Odysseus after killing the suitors and proceeded to help him fend off the families  of the dead suitors like Poseidon had supported Polyphemus

The Odyssey (favourite lines)

A line that I like because it reveals so much about the world of The Odyssey is, “Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns”. I think that this line reveals a lot about the story as it essentially tells the reader that Odysseus is “the man of twists and turns” because his homecoming is anything but straightforward. However, he is also “the man of twists and turns” as his mind similarly twists and turns, which is what predominantly helps him in the end to escape the dangerous circumstances he is in.

 

A line that I really liked in general was, “he had no choice— unwilling lover alongside lover all too willing”. This is when Calypso forces Odysseus to sleep with her against his will. Although I don’t support Calypso’s action, in this particular scene I find the amount of power Calypso has to be fascinating. It was lovely to see a powerful goddess abuse a powerless Odysseus. Even though it sounds cruel, Odysseus’ later encounter with the Phaecians later reveals that Odysseus too has captured and enslaved women and so calypso cannot be judged too harshly. 

 

Lastly, a line that I found to be incredibly satisfying is, “Ah how shameless – the way these mortals blame the gods. From us alone they say come all their miseries yes but they themselves with their own reckless ways compound their pains beyond their proper share.” I found this line to be satisfying as it is true that men suffer more than necessary because of their own transgressions. Such as the suitors who take space in Odysseus’ home and flirt with Penelope or the Phaecians who help Odysseus.