Author: coe209

What’s with the Metamorphosis?

Needless to say, the plot of this graphic novel is extremely chaotic– we are presented with two distinct narrators whose lives seem to merge but who follow different trains of thought, the narrative of the story is messy and difficult to follow, there’s way too much nudity, and the characters within the story–being teenagers–are acting very hormonal. Amidst all the chaos, the audience is left having to tease out the moral of the story.

Since this is the first time being exposed to this text, I am stuck in a whirlwind of confusion. I can’t seem to figure out the multiple layers of isolation being presented in this text, and I sadly, can’t identify with the issues facing the teenagers because I had a whole different set of teenage problems outside the ones depicted in this novel.

However, I was particularly struck by the Burn’s need to depict changing character traits as a form of metamorphosis. Looking up the term “metamorphosis” in the dictionary, I came across the following definition:-
“(in an insect or amphibian) the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages.”
“A change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one.”

Burns’ choice to depict the characters as teenagers offers some clarification as to why the characters change form. Teenage years, marking the stage of puberty, and a move from childhood to adulthood, offers group for some of “metamorphosis” within the context of the novel.

But there are also a number of flaws within this definition that are almost aggravating to me as a reader. Here are some of them.
1.) Metamorphosis based on my understanding requires a linear progression or series of stages. So an adult frog starts of as an egg, then moves to being a tadpole and then moves to being a tadpole with legs before emerging as an adult frog. There’s a clear starting point and a clear end point. This text, however, is contextualized in the middle of this progression. We are unsure of how the characters took form as children, and based on the end of the novel, we are also unsure of their end form. The idea of the “Black hole” as a metaphor stands not only for isolation, but for genuine confusion from a reader’s perspective. Added to this frustration is the fact that the experience of “teenage-hood” is also strictly contextual. These depictions are of American teenagers within a set time period so the experiences might greatly differ from other teenage perspectives across time periods and geography.

2.) There’s still no resolution as to why the concept of adolescence is depicted as an embodiment of some animal form. What is the rationale behind switching the face of a human boy to the face of a cat? Is there a reason for Eliza’s tail? Or Chris’ need to periodically shed skin like a snake? Granted the change of forms might just be temporary. But remember that metamorphosis is a linear progression–eggs–>tadpole–>tadpole (with legs)–> adult frog. You have a clear destination and every stage within the development entails some adding on of form or body part to reach that final stage of development. You can’t go from being a tadpole to being a butterfly. It just doesn’t work. There has to be some linear progression from one form to another.

I’m interested to see what you guys think.

Chiamaka Odera Ebeze (coe209).

“Welcome to….”?__Augmenter’s post

“Welcome to our Hillbrow…welcome to our Alexandra… welcome to our Tiragalong in Johannesburg…welcome to our England…welcome to our Heaven”.

There are a number of things I find fascinatingly wrong with the above phrases. The most obvious of my issues is the very fact that I cannot decipher who the narrator is and what his/her relationship is to some form of constructed identity or structured community. By constantly welcoming foreigners to “our” stated communities, the narrator is implying the he/she is already a part of those communities. How is it possible to belong to Hillbrow, Alexandra, Tiragalong, England and heaven, all at the same time? I postulate that it might be because the narrator has a fluid sense of identity. ‘Identity’ for our narrator is not rooted in socially-constructed ideals of identity by descent (birth and breeding). But, identity as part of a community is rooted in one’s present spatio-temporal world. Essentially, as one moves, so does his or her relation to a community. It is unclear as to whether the narrator abandons his previous belongings to other communities by adapting to newer ones, but it is evident from my understanding of the novel that because change and movement are very dynamic, one’s form of identity should equally be dynamic.

The second issue with the above phrasings rests in the extents to which one is truly welcomed as part of a community. Throughout the book, Mpe creates strong tension between the foreigners and the locals- the Hillbrowans vs. the people from Johannesburg, the black South Africans vs. the black foreigners, the ‘Africans’ [excluding (white) South Africans] vs. the British, etc. So, even though it may seem like the foreigners are being welcomed with open arms, one cannot help but take this invitation with a grain of salt or some form of hesitation as the invitation might not be truly sincere.

Liberty Bonds and Domestic Life_Augmenter’s Post.

World War I Propaganda Poster

As I was reading this seemingly insurmountable novella, I came across certain thing that stood out to me. Normally, when I read a new text and there are words or references used in the text that I do not understand, I google them (Yay to the  21st Century!!). When Miranda and Adam were trying to keep wake by reading a couple of Bible verses, Adam made a reference to a Biblical verse that was supposed to be from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. He said, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take…” [Porter 188]. Being Christian, I found this verse fascinating as I dis not recognize it. In a bid to satisfy my inquisition, I searched up the prayer on google and the first post on the text from Wikipedia had this poster at the side.

The lines “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” are from an 18th Century Children’s bedtime classic. The first adapted version of the original piece reads,

“Now I lay me down to sleep,                                                                                                                                                    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.                                                                                                                                            If I should die before I wake,                                                                                                                                                   I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

The US government altered to lines of this children’s classic to say,

“Now I lay me down to sleep,                                                                                                                                                    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.                                                                                                                                       God bless my brother gone to war                                                                                                                              Across the seas in France so far.                                                                                                                                         Oh, may his fight for Liberty                                                                                                                                            save millions more than little me.                                                                                                                                    From cruel fates and ruthless blasts,–                                                                                                                            And bring him safely home at last.”

If anything, this poster demonstrates augments our discussions from class about how the war fed into domestic life. This poster literally turns the most intimate aspect of a child’s bedtime ritual into a war propaganda tool to get people to buy Liberty Bonds. The poster itself shows a mother and child (the non-combatants) praying and the background of the photo shows the framed picture of a soldier in the war. Since the theme of the poster has been personalized by the title, “My Soldier” it is safe to assume that the soldier being referred to here is the father of the child. This is most likely why this prayer would be important to the child and would prove to be a stronger war propaganda if the mother and child have stronger and more intimate relations with the soldier who has gone off to war.The poster is indeed a subtle coercion tactic to lure non-combatants into purchasing liberty bonds for the war. Furthermore, the backdrop of the poster itself is in the colors of the United States flag which to me would symbolize unity, freedom and patriotism (this thought is also going off lines of their national anthem).

In the text itself, the noun ‘Liberty’ is capitalized. This is intentional as it aims to imprint in the minds of the people of the United States that the war efforts are for their freedom and as such buying the bonds would help achieve the set out goals of liberty and freedom. Ironically, the terms ‘BUY UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT BONDS’ and ‘THIRD LIBERTY LOAN’ are written in bigger and even bigger letters than the term ‘Liberty’ in the bedtime classic as the term ‘bonds’ plays on the idea that the term ‘bonds’ as used in this poster could also mean ‘BONDage’. The citizens of the United states have practically been held captive by the war efforts. The intimate aspects of their lives have been invaded for propaganda means and people are forced to buy Liberty bonds even when they cannot afford to, lest they are harassed by the Lusk Committee.

The audience of this text can’t help but agree with Miranda’s thoughts as she asks, “Coal, oil, iron, gold, international finance, why don’t you tell us about them you little liar?” [Porter 175]. It appears to Miranda and the audience of this novella that dealing with these issues are better ways to win the war as opposed to holding citizens captive by feeding into their intimate lives and forcing them to buy liberty bonds.