Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hemingway and Dickinson

Over the past few weeks at Don Miller house, I constantly have been reminded of the importance of communication and presence, which can be directly connected with tonight’s readings on silence and acceptance. Every week when I walk into the house, Dee Dee and Sergio greet me at the door. I usually try to ask them what they did during the day but I receive blank stares. The answer is always nothing. Even though I am pleased to hear that the highlight of their day is when Loyola kids come to hang out, it also makes me incredibly sad. I enjoy spending time with Dee Dee, but our activities never consist of anything super exciting. I often have to ask Dee Dee to repeat what she says, because it is difficult for me to understand her, and I feel bad at the look of frustration on her face. On last Wednesday when we were playing BINGO it was a challenge to decipher which letters and numbers she was calling out. I realized that although we were not always communicating correctly, we were still together. I was keeping her company for the night, and she seemed happy. I let go of my frustration, decided not to call out BINGO even though I won. I relaxed and cheerfully, enjoyed our time together.
In Ernest Hemingway’s short story Hills Like White Elephants, the two characters are having a tough time communicating. The topic is very serious, because it seems that the man is asking his younger girlfriend to have an abortion. I was reminded of Dee Dee, because the two characters are not letting each other have room to think. By the end of the story the girl asks her boyfriend to please stop talking. Sometimes I felt like I was trying too hard to figure out what Dee Dee or Sergio was trying to say, but if I just relaxed, conversation might run smoother. Although this short story deals with a harder subject matter, they might need to do the same thing.
This acceptance of beliefs, that the two characters must reflect on, in order to make their hard decision reminded me of the Emily Dickinson poem Because I could not stop for Death. In this poem, death is personified and the narrator fully understands and agrees to the call of her demise. She is not afraid, but actually refers to Death as kindly. The characters in the Hemingway story need to accept their fait, just like the narrator in the Dickinson poem does. I also need to accept whatever is thrown at me when I visit my friend Dee Dee and Sergio. Even if I get confused or frustrated I need to relax and just use the gift of presence. Another Dickinson poem reminded me of Hemingway’s story. Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--. The girl in the story does not seem to be telling her boyfriend the truth of what she wants to do. The poem enforces this idea of not speaking the truth, and therefore I disagree. After further reflection I realized that I do speak in slant. In my story mentioned above about BINGO I slanted the truth in order to allow DEE DEE to win the round. It seems that we all must slant the truth sometimes.
In the Dickinson poem called Success is counted sweetest, this story reflects on the idea that success must look different to those who are not part of the winning crowd. My immediate response reflected back to Don Miller House, and how they always have no response to my question of “what did you do today?”. I wondered if when Dee Dee listens to my stories of school and presentations she looks upon it as success. She makes her day out to be so boring, and mine is always filled to the brim, as I explain to her all of the other activities I have planned for the night. Perhaps I am taking all of this “success” for granted and I decided that it is important to accept what is going on, but to also look at everything from many angles, to fully appreciate life.
Dickinson’s next poem also caused me to look at life from a different angle. In I heard a Fly buzz--- when I died-- the narrator is dying, but all she can talk about is a fly. I’m not sure whether this is good thing or a bad thing. One way I saw the situation was that she was not obsessing over death, which is inevitable. I also could take the poem in a negative light, because the narrator could be unhappy with her life and not be able to reflect on anything at all. This reminded me right back to Dee Dee and Sergio, who make their lives sound unimportant to them. Everyone’s life is extremely significant, so I hope over the semester I can create excitement in their lives.

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