Aidee’s second reflection

Short Reflection 2

Aidee Tejeda Manzano

As a minority I always find myself looking for approval not in my own POC peers but in my white peers. It feels like I am striving for approval from white people, whether it is academically having to prove to the ignorant people, that my skin color didn’t give me a free ride to college or socially. Almost everything caters to white people, while pretending to praise “diversity” and “equality”.

While I do believe that 2 Dope Queens have worked very hard to get their HBO show, they disappointed me. In the media there isn’t many representations of brown or black women, and when there are, they are just stereotypes. I want to see more than the sexualized Latina or the ghetto black girl. The 2 Dope Queens did have their funny moments, but they were catering to the white audience. They dragged each other, instead of rising together like the strong black women I wanted to see. They brought out their loudness and their struggles for the people who have placed these struggles on them. Jessica told her partner to “stop dragging me in front of these white people.” To further make a white (male) audience interested and comfortable they had to have a famous white comedian validate them. On contrary, Dave Chappelle made no intent to make his white audience members feel comfortable. He called them out during his show, and he didn’t do it in such a way that he was “attacking” them. He asked his white audience members “how does it feel being the only white people on the front row.” He addressed the elephant in the room, which was that he wasn’t there to make them feel comfortable. He called out any marginalized group and large groups equally. I can acknowledge that Dave Chappelle is at the peak of his career and the 2 Dope Queens are still climbing the latter, but is it worth climbing that latter if with every step a piece of your brownness or blackness is faded?

From my own experiences, having been raised in predominantly white areas, I can proudly say no. But, I can also sympathize with 2 Dope Queens. These theme of putting the needs of white people first isn’t new, it is emphasizing in literature from 1800s.

Uncle Toms Cabin by the WHITE abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe was supposedly a novel that “helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War.” I believe that this statement is true, but for the saddest reason. The reason being that it required a white person who had never felt the injustice of chains to tell other white people who have never felt the pain of being a slave that slavery was “bad”. “Bad” but tolerable, all the main character had to do was be a good slave for his Christian masa and wait for the freedom death gives. This book wasn’t targeting the black audience to offer support, instead it was targeting the white audience to make them feel okay for making human beings property. The cycle of what is frowned upon in society only has a way out when the person is white. In “Po’ Sandy” Sandy’s gruesome death was disguised as a tree being sawed, but the pain his wife felt was all there. If his death would has depicted a human being sawed into a pieces by his masa, I don’t think the Chesnutt’s Conjure Women would have been as successful.

In Djuna Barnes novel Nightwood, Robin ( a destructive women) uses children or dolls to control those around her. For example, she has a child for her husband Felix. She didn’t want this child; she did it to keep Felix interested so that she could leave when she wanted to. If Robin would have been a black woman, the interpretation of her having a child would have been that she was just trying to trap her rich baby daddy.

All of these pieces of art, with the exception of Nightwood, had the opportunity to be there for the non-white population but didn’t do it. On a side note, the movie Black Panther did an amazing job representing African culture and depicting pride in one’s color. It was truly a movie that wasn’t created to cater to a white audience. Wakanda forever.

Jared Floyd – Racial Disparity in America

“I’m Not Racist.” Does this claim rid you of the of the title of being a racist? Can this claim remove the guilt you have after saying a racist comment? In America, many are hiding behind the term “I’m not racist” in order to preserve their reputation.

Rapper Joyner Lucas clearly expresses this white reputation preservation in his song titled “I’m Not Racist.” This song’s music video is a conversation between a white stereotypical Donald Trump supporter and a stereotypical African American man. Beginning the video, the white man comments on the lifestyle of the African American community in an extremely condescending manner confused on why he is not able to partake in the “black experience.” The white man continues to demoralize the African American community by claiming that their struggles are caused by their own behaviors. After making statements that tear down African Americans as a whole, he claims “I’m not racist” which is justified by his connection with black friends.

There seems to be a disconnect between races. “I’m Not Racist” by Joyner Lucas clearly depicts how the white culture expects all of the black culture to be exactly like them which in reality will never happen. There is a difference between cultures and that is okay. Within 2 Dope Queens’ show, they have to validate their performance by bringing on a white comedian Jon Stuart. Through the introduction of this character, the majority white audience opens up to the 2 Dope Queens’ performance. Where did this subtle belief that white culture is superior originate? Undoubtedly, the discrete racism that we see in today’s society can be linked to the oppressive views of our ancestors. This subtle racism is demonstrated anywhere from the black man denying that the 2 Dope Queens at the beginning of their show were actually the 2 Dope Queens to the disparity within this country’s education system. Many of the problems that the African American community face are not based on their own behaviors which is expressed in “I’m Not Racist;” however, these struggles are due to the governmental structures that are constructed by the white majority in order to protect their own race.

In order to address the declarations made by the white trump supporter in Joyner Lucas’s “I’m Not Racist” video, the black man responds in an explicit manner. His response includes the reasons why white people cannot say the “n-word” and the effects slavery has had on his own life. The discussion continues to expose the racism in America in addition to the fact that the color of your skin impacts different opportunities that are offered. The African American man concludes his monologue claiming that the only way racism and racial disparity will end is if all races strive to see life from the opposing side.

Within the comedy of Dave Chappelle, he is able to cleverly express his beliefs on the racial disparities that are prevalent today. Similar to the claims made by Joyner Lucas about the difficulty of finding work for a black family, Dave Chappelle opens his show by explaining how his mother had to work multiple jobs in order to provide for her family. Even though this fact about his upbringing was a small portion of his overall joke, he is able to express the hardships that the African American community face. Joyner Lucas explicitly addresses the racism in America; however, Dave Chappelle implicitly comments on the racial disparity in America. Both artists use their means of exposing racism for a specific purpose. The main audience for Joyner Lucas’s music video is the African American community who are able to fully relate to the claims made in the video. On the other hand, Dave Chappelle has a whole different audience of white people who would be turned off by his comedy if he directly exposed the racism in America. Joyner Lucas and Dave Chappelle are in the process of breaking down the barriers between races. In order to bring races together, it is necessary to accept community’s differences and accept them for who they are.

Lucas B Short Reflection 2

ENGL 129 Reflection 2 FINAL

Lucas Baldridge

25 February 2018

ENGL 129

Professor Boyd

The Social Commentary Within Dave Chappelle’s Comedy

Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Equanimity and The Bird Revelation both implore Chappelle’s masterful use of social commentary. Although most of his comedic skits, including some in this Netflix special, are historically offensive, Chappelle reveals the interconnection between the ongoing Civil Rights issues surrounding race in America along with the current struggles within the transgender community. In Equanimity, Chappelle shows how Caitlin Jenner is only of topic because she was once a white male struggling to find a gender identity. In The Bird Revelation, Dave allegorically uses the narrative Pimp to describe his own experiences in Hollywood to that of the prostitute in the novel. Each of these skits shows Chappelle’s underlying social commentary on the interconnectedness of racial issues and the hardships faced by the transgender community.

One of the most profound skits within this Netflix special pertained to the transgender community, which was brought up during Chappelle’s Equanimity. During this skit, Chappelle mostly poked fun at those who transform from males to females. Caitlin Jenner, who is possibly one of the most noted transgender women of this era, was the main target for Chappelle’s comedic digs at the transgender community. However, despite the “hustler style” jokes, Dave was able to reveal quite a bit of social commentary throughout this skit’s entirety. To scratch the surface of such commentary, Dave empathized for those who struggle with their gender identity. He understood that “their life is hard” and explained how he did not agree that such feelings should “disqualify someone from dignity and safety” throughout their lives. Obviously, Chappelle shows empathy for those of such struggles and takes a step back from his skit to express this. However, this is not the only instance of social commentary. Later on in this same skit, another social issue around the transgender community was brought up. Dave brings up that his problem does not reside with transgender people, but the dialog around it. He explains that America has never cared for anybody unless white males are the subject of such scenarios. Chappelle is trying to expose one of the reasons why America is finally listening to those of a minority, and it is because that group is predominately represented by white American males. Dave says that if it was “women, black people, or Mexicans” who had the same issues, nobody would listen.

Dave Chappelle reveals his social commentary yet again in The Bird Revelation by explaining the importance of a “bottom bitch” to a pimp. Although Dave was identifying the issue of women being taken advantage of, he may have also been portraying himself as the “bottom bitch” of Hollywood. In the narrative Pimp, a woman is labeled by her “mileage” and used time and time again simply for Iceberg Slim’s want for money. Oddly enough, this same scenario can be related to how Dave was treated in Hollywood. Whenever Chappelle’s talent was brought onto the big stage, he instantly became a price tag for the big businesses of Hollywood. Labels were wanting to sign him in order to achieve economic well-being. Chappelle’s “mileage” was being used at such an alarming rate that he had to step away from the Hollywood scene for quite sometime. Dave truly was Hollywood’s “bottom bitch.” Sadly, his race was most likely the cause of such behavior. Chappelle noted previously in this Netflix special that being a black man in Hollywood is not easy, and that is why he was thinking about getting out while he can. However, even though this talk is quantified as speaking on racial issues, there is a connection to gender identity within this skit. Chappelle was relating himself to a female prostitute, which completely adheres to the notion of how his social commentary illustrates the idea of race and the transgender community together.

As shown throughout this Netflix special, Chappelle reveals the interconnection of Civil Rights issues and the struggles of the transgender community. His skits turned from comedy and became more confessional. Chappelle has been in Hollywood long enough to understand the true demise of the African American community within this setting. He relates such hardships to those faced by the transgender community in the modern day era. Dave is able to develop an understanding of what it is like to be of a minority group. In doing so, he is able to speak on such issues regarding race and the struggles of the transgender community.


Chappelle, Dave. Equanimity and The Bird Revelation. Distributed by Netflix, 2017.

Reading Reflection Two-“Comedy: Chappelle vs. The Carmichaels”

Today we live in a world in which everyone is able to live in the world how they would like to and not according to someone else’s rules. The question is though, how do we address these differences without offending anyone. Well, we can’t so as a society we have all subconsciously accepted comedy as this outlet. However, does comedy always have to be ingloriously incompetent?

When watching Dave Chappelle: Equanimity and The Bird Revelation, viewers are thrown handfuls of jokes involving sexuality, gender, and racism, yet you see no one blatantly opposing these hateful words. In Chappelle’s special, he approaches topics, such as sexuality, in almost a disrespectful way. He is allowed to do that though, right, since he is a comedian? Right? Wrong actually. I am a person who loves a good comedy and over the years of views and laughs, I have learned that not all comedy must come at the expense of others.

When thinking of good comedy, I think of a show such as The Carmichael Show. This show addresses many topics that may be seen as “sensitive” in today’s world but doesn’t degrade anyone’s beliefs. I can compare this show to Chappelle’s in the different way in which they present the topic of transgender people.

Chappelle made a joke in reference to someone who was obviously close to him who didn’t appreciate a joke he made about his relations with a transgender person once. He followed up with this by repeating the joke, basically saying he didn’t care about how those of the transgender community felt about his jokes because he was still going to make them. In an episode of The Carmichael Show, Jerrod Carmichael is given a little brother for his church program. In meeting his “brother”, the two form an instant bond and Jordan then begins to let Jerrod into some of the secrets of his life. Upon hearing that Jordan is transgender, Jerrod immediately is nervous and leaves, however, he does return and tells Jordan he only left from confusion and fear. The two talk and in the end, Jerrod tells Jordan he will stick by his side as they tell those around Jordan about his sexuality. Jerrod never laughs at or judges Jordan’s choices. All the while, we see still some comedy in this, such as Jerrod’s explanation for leaving, his parents advice and even Jerrod’s nervous reaction to the news; yet none of this comedy was directed towards transgender people in a degrading way.

We can compare the way in which Chappelle shapes his comedy in hate versus how writers of The Carmichael Show shape their comedy in misunderstanding, to see how comedy doesn’t have to be hurtful. It always seems funny when it isn’t happening to us, but Jerrod Carmichael shows how we can laugh at ourselves and not belittle others. The world is changing and the stigma for good comedy needs to change with it.

Scully, Mike. “The Carmichael Show: Gender.” Season 1, episode 4.

Reflection Post 2: Shift

The short film “Shift“, directed by Jonathan Yi, is a slice of life film that follows a young man named Alex as he begins a new job working night shifts processing envelopes. Throughout the film, Alex experiences the way of life of a working class person and learns his co-workers’ outlooks on the world. By the end of the film, Alex has begun to recognize his privileged position and reject that lifestyle. In this way, “Shift” portrays differences in class and privilege between a young college student, like Alex, and the working class.  It provides a window into a side of life that many are not familiar with and forces them to look the disparity of wealth and privilege right in the face.

“Shift” exhibits the class differences between Alex and the workers in many ways throughout the film. Firstly,there is the issue of financial stability and hardship. The audience learns that Alex is just working the job in order to pay for head shots for his acting career so he can continue with acting school. Meanwhile, many of his co-workers are working both day shifts at other jobs and night shifts there just in order to make ends meet. This is contrasted with his female acquaintance that helps him get the commercial spot, who lives in a lavish home with hired help and a sports car that she received for her 16th birthday. It is also ironic that the envelopes that the men who must work day and night are working with are from men with over five million dollars, as Alex’s boss reveals at the beginning. Alex is able to see both sides of the spectrum of wealth in this way and seems to realize the unfairness of it all by the end.

The difference in mindset between Alex and his co-workers is also shown throughout the film. Many of them buy into stereotypes and judge each other accordingly, such as when they question Alex about not eating rice as a Korean. They also don’t recognize the value of artistry or academics as Alex does. They question how much Alex is spending on acting classes and dismiss his work and his costuming for the commercial (“Makeup is for girls”). Perhaps the most poignant example of the difference in mindset is when Alex is talking about how expensive his head shot photographs would be and a co-worker suggests letting Wang take them for a low price since Alex will look the same no matter what the pictures cost.  This really shows that to his co-workers, money is the only real concern and that quality is negligible. When Alex talks about his commercial, all the care about is if he made good money doing it. To them, it isn’t important to worry about artistry and artistic merit because money is the one constraining factor that dictates their existence.

Finally, the last main difference that the film shows between Alex and the other workers is their aspirations and views of the future. Alex has dreams and goals. He wants to finish his education, become an actor, and accomplish great things. This night shift job is just a stepping stone to larger goals for him. To the other workers, this job was their livelihood. There isn’t anything in life for them beyond working day and night to just get by each paycheck. They have no sense of a future or any aspirations. The one worker who sits in the background the whole film, reveals himself as Mark at the end and speaks with Alex. He tells Alex how he thought about driving his motorcycle off the road and killing himself on the way to work. To Mark, there is nothing to stop him from doing that, nothing to live another day for. He tells Alex, “That’s what life is, always getting stiffed”. Unlike Alex, who has dreams and aspirations for the future, Mark and the others have lost any aspirations they may have had and, in Mark’s case, may have lost faith in life itself.

A Critical Analysis of Jonathan Yi’s “Shift”

            “Shift” (Yi 2006) uses a variety of cinematic techniques to generate tension that grips the audience from start to finish. Several editing tricks created shots that left the audience expecting a quarrel, but at the very climax of action, Yi would defuse the situation. Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” (1954) used similar strategies to increase the audience’s anxiety, which cab mainly be seen in several specific shots.

            In “Shift”, Yi used the monotonous nature of a mailing center to highlight the underlying stress in the lives of its workers. For example, the viewers are exposed to the same sights and sounds that the workers have to experience every time they come to work. Such shots were the lengthy clips of the countless envelopes being mechanically sorted.

We heard and saw paper after paper drumming through the office, and while this may not seem like a strenuous scene, it was well-timed after some heated exchanges and pivotal plot points such as the cutting of all employees’ working hours. In “Rear Window”, Hitchcock would pan over the entire set in a relatively calm manner, but the audience possessed information that made these scenes overly suspenseful.

For example, when the audience watches one of these action-less shots, at surface level it appears to be a calm environment, but the audience knows that it is only calm because the murderer, Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), is out burying his dead wife’s body. This strategy makes the film exponentially more suspenseful as it forces the audience to be involved, rather than creating a passive and one-sided engagement.

The next source of tension in “Shift” is its mis-en-scene, or the specific arrangement of the set in a scene. The quintessential example can be seen in the various pizza scenes, where the workers were greeted by free warm pizzas, but the audience knew they represented something much darker, wage cuts and eventually a mass layoff.

In this scene, the pizzas were laid out on the table and the workers gathered around them, looking down at them. By making the pizzas the center of the workers’ attention it became the center of the viewers’ attention as well, which generates a greater sense of significance. Again, similar techniques can be seen in “Rear Window”, where a neighbor’s dog becomes fixated on Lars Thorwald’s flower garden.

This tips off both the protagonist and the audience that there might be clues regarding the disappearance of Lars’ wife. These uses of mis-en-scene capitalize on the intuition and cognizance of film viewers to gather information without it being explicitly stated, and therefore it is extremely useful in a film like “Shift” where there is very little dialogue.

While these films differ in just about every category, including plot length and depth, they both use similar strategies to engage the audience by creating tension. Jonathan Yi has a long road before he can be compared to Hitchcock, but his cinematic style absolutely deserves to be recognized as a successful implementation of Hitchcock’s techniques.


Short Reflection 2: The Theme of Decadence in Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood

Nightwood, the 1936 modernist novel written by Djuna Barnes, follows the character of Robin Vote and the emotional havoc she wreaks in the lives of the people around her. Set in locations ranging from Berlin and Paris to North America, the novel effectively conveys the decadence of the 1920s in the West, primarily through the characters of Robin Vote and Jenny Pertheridge. The obvious emphasis on decadence within the novel presents itself through portrayals of wealth morally and materialistically, signifying an era of unparalleled consumption, leisure, and luxury, the levels of which had never been previously seen to such a wide degree.

Above: A photo capturing a group of men and women dining together in a restaurant in Paris in the 1920s. Restaurants, cafés, and bars were havens for artists during this era.

Historically, the economic and cultural factors underlying the “Roaring ’20s” period influenced a dizzying accumulation of wealth and shifting cultural interests that grew to define the decade. For instance, the total American wealth doubled in value from 1920 to 1929 and created a consumer society marked by affluence and the spread of consumer goods. In Europe, where the majority of the novel transpires, the American outflow of industrial production, distribution, and consumption sparked avid economic interest among Europeans. Opulent goods and elegance were more accessible than ever before, with the advent of luxurious automobiles, ocean-liners, and trains. Most associated with this time period, however, are the changing social norms which occurred in conjunction with this newfound wealth. Public behavior transformed dramatically, partially as a result of the collapse of authoritarian regimes in Austria and Germany. Sexual norms and ethical conceptions were also changed by large-scale employment of women during World War I, as the bulk of the male population was sent to the fronts. This social change saw openness towards previously taboo behavior, such as alcohol consumption, women smoking in public, and the blooming of nightlife in cabaret-type venues.

Above: An American “flapper” posing with a luxury car of the 1920s. The mansion and the car depicted suggest the money needed to fund such a lifestyle.

In Djuna Barnes’ novel, the emphasis on excess serves to contextualize the setting and the timeframe of the story, specifically the characters’ display of “moral” decadence. Robin, the main character in the novel, is first introduced to the reader as a somnambulant, a sleep-walker who straddles the line between night and day, the night functioning as a metaphor for the hidden vices and behaviors lurking beneath the familiarity of the day. When the Doctor first meets her, Robin is passed out in a drunken stupor, and the reader learns this is completely common for the troubled nomad. Moreover, the significance underlying Robin’s nightly forays into alcohol and sex lies in her abandonment of Nora—who can be viewed as representing monogamy and commitment—for cheap thrills with others, romantically or otherwise. When Nora firsthand witnesses Robin’s unfaithful behavior with another woman, the reader is wholly conscious of the chaos Robin emotionally inflicts upon Nora. These actions align with the reader’s perception of moral decadence, especially so with Robin. Her moral compass is virtually non-existent as far as the reader is concerned and her lack of commitment—to her relationships, to her child, to herself—consistently highlights her status as a permanent nomad, moving from one person to another as if she is exchanging accessories rather than human beings. Another example of moral decadence is Jenny’s casual theft of other’s belongings, her apartment a collection of “first-hand plunder” which was “teeming with second-hand dealings with life” (Barnes 72).

Furthermore, decadence appears in the characters’ free disregard for money, particularly with Robin and Jenny. Barnes elaborates on Jenny, Robin’s lover, “She was generous with money. She made gifts lavishly and spontaneously. She sent bushel baskets of camellias to actresses because she had a passion for the characters they portrayed […]” (73). Jenny’s decision to send arbitrary gifts to artists she idols encapsulates her level of wealth compared to the financial struggles faced by most individuals during this time. Jenny’s status as a four-time widower who moves from location to location, unheeded by any financial burden, supported by the money left behind by her dead husbands, signifies a lifestyle largely unattainable. Additionally, Barnes’ detailing of Robin as bored and unfulfilled underscores the luxury the characters in the novel have to struggle to fill their empty time, untouched by the demands and obligations of a job. Robin’s nomadic wandering can also be seen as a symptom of her boredom, as she resorted to “haunt the terminals, taking trains into different parts of the country, wandering without design” (176). Her decision to aimlessly travel without purpose illustrates her privileged status as a perpetually disinterested outsider untouched by the struggles faced by the vast majority of the population.

Above: A 1921 photo of Djuna Barnes, the writer of Nightwood, a novel many believe to be semi-autobiographical.

Decadence both morally and financially indicates the trend of modernist emphasis on excess and consumption. In a period of changing social dynamics and societal norms, against the backdrop of new wealth circulating throughout Europe and the United States, the story of Nightwood unfolds against a setting which grants the reader a deeper understanding of the characters’ qualities and actions. A striking metaphor used by the Doctor towards the end of the novel can serve to best emphasize this point: Robin and the other characters are “like the ducks in Golden Gate park […] everybody in their kindness having fed them all the year round to their ruin because […] they are all a bitter consternation […] being too fat and heavy to rise off the water, and, my God, how they flop and struggle all over the park in autumn […]” (Barnes 170). In much the same way as the overweight ducks, Robin abuses the resources freely available to her to a point where she can no longer fully function as a normal member of society, or at least as an individual in sync with the daily occurrences of life.

Eliza Liriano Post 2 – Isolation: A Product of Categorization in Nightwood

In Dijuna Barnes’s Nightwood, Barnes creates the character Robin to demonstrate how the failure to categorize an individual can lead to his or her isolation. Robin’s inability to comply with social expectations prevents her from identifying with a particular group. She cannot be considered an adult because she acts like a child and plays with dolls; yet, she cannot be classified as a child because she is older and has intimate relationships with her loved ones, Felix, Nora, and Jenny. During her relationship with Felix, Robin has a child. She cannot fit the role of a mother because she fails to care for her son and lives her life as though he does not exist.  Additionally, her relationships with both men and women showcase that she is not a heterosexual.  She is attracted to women but she is not a lesbian because her past relationship with Felix illustrates that she also has a sexual attraction to men; thus, she is a part of the “third sex” (Barnes 157). Barnes purposely does not label Robin as a mother, heterosexual, lesbian, etc. because she struggles to fit into any of these categories. Her incapacity to conform to social constructs and have a mature, long-lasting relationship with anyone causes her to be emotionally isolated from the people around her and prevents her from forming serious connections. As a result, she believes her only escape is running away from her roles, physically isolating herself from those she once cared for. In doing so, she attempts to find a safe haven, where she truly fits in, leading to her eventually assume the role of a dog and separate herself from the entire human race.

Robin acknowledges her differences and, without justification, runs away when she feels pressured to undertake a certain role.  In society, partners typically care for and remain faithful to their significant others. In Nightwood, this was not the case. Once Robin begins to the assume the role of Nora’s partner, she feels the desire to leave her. Emotionally, she is incapable of loving Nora unconditionally and putting Nora’s needs and wants before her own. In an attempt to escape the responsibility of being Nora’s partner, she has an affair with Jenny and leaves Nora. Robin physically isolates herself from Nora for she feels that she is not able to live up to society’s expectations and remain loyal because she is different from those around her. Furthermore, Robin’s inability to remain with Jenny shortly after leaving Nora emphasizes that Robin’s differences prevent Robin from establishing meaningful relationships with those she cares about. In Nora’s conversation with the doctor, he states, “Robin was outside of the ‘human type’—a wild thing caught in a woman’s skin, monstrously alone” (155). Although the doctor does not fully understand Robin, he does recognize that her failure to fit into a category is the reason why Robin finds discomfort within herself. Internally, Robin cannot let herself be loved by others, leading to her emotional and physical isolation. The ideals set forth by society limit Robin’s freedom and force her into a role she does not want to fulfill. Her differences lead her to reject these expectations she views as requirements and fuels her desire to find a place where can be accepted for the person she is.

Robin’s inability to be categorized leads to her isolation, which is a detriment to her character. Her failure to connect with others on an emotional level results in her physically isolating herself from the people she loved, leading to her finally assume the role of a dog in hopes of experiencing acceptance. Robin compromises her humanity to take on the role of an animal, demonstrating the extreme measure she has to resort to in order to find solace. Although the novel ends on a dramatic note, the author creates this scene to emphasize how categorization and one’s inability to submit to social constructs can lead to their isolation from those around them, and in this case, the entire human race. Barnes utilizes the character Robin to convey that people should not have to take drastic measures to be themselves, even if they do not exactly fit into a particular group.


Barnes, Dijuna. Nightwood. New York: New Directions Books, 1937. Print

The Presence of Transgender Characters

Nightwood, by Djuna Barnes, narrates the story of Robin Vote, along with her struggles and relationships, on her journey to happiness. Throughout the novel, characters from multiple backgrounds are introduced with the common denominator of knowing Dr. Matthew O’Connor. Dr. Matthew O’Connor pretends to be a real doctor, which leads characters to trust him and consult him for advice in their times of struggle. Dr. Matthew O’Connor is revealed as transgender to the readers when Nora walks in on the doctor wearing a “woman’s flannel nightgown,” “a wig with long pendent curls that touched his shoulders,” and saw “laces, ribands, stockings, and ladies’ underclothing” hanging out of his drawers.”(85) In the fourth season of Glee, a popular television show about a group of high school singers and dancers, a new character is introduced named Wade, or Unique. Wade chooses to wear men’s clothing to school to avoid harassment by his fellow classmates, but identifies as a woman named Unique when he performs. Both Wade and Dr. O’Connor come from unsupportive backgrounds involving a lack of acceptance and ultimately compromise their true identities in order to satisfy society’s standards. Including transgender characters in literature and media can be controversial, but addresses important challenges and threats these individuals face everyday.

When Dr. Matthew O’Connor’s family discovered his identity, they responded by sending him off to join the military, where served “in a little town where the bombs began tearing the heart out of you.”(25) As a punishment for being transgender, Dr. O’Connor was forced to witness and endure the gruesome sights, such as the guillotine, from World War I. Towards the end of the novel, Dr. O’Connor rants about the different situations the characters have spoke to him about when he is drunk in a bar. At this point, Dr. O’Connor can no longer deal with the other characters problems, along with the challenge of hiding his true identity. He claims he “lived his life for nothing” and “the end” is “now nothing, but wrath and weeping.” (175) His years of having to cope with others problems, while secretly dealing with his own, ultimately led to his degradation. Similarly, Wade from Glee struggled to reveal Unique to his friends and family. Wade joined Glee Club because he “wanted to be somewhere where different was celebrated.” Although Glee Club was traditionally known for their acceptance, Wade comes to a meeting dressed as Unique and is ridiculed by his peers. The other members question Wade by stating “I thought you said you would only wear that for performances.” Wade was initially shocked by their responses, but agreed to change per their requests.

In the 1920s, legislature in the United States and other parts of the world targeted LGBTQ members of the community, forcing individuals to hide their identities in order to avoid punishments from the law and rejection by other community members. Despite the changes made to legislature, LGBTQ individuals still face discrimination and harassment everyday and are often the victims of hate crimes. Given the setting of Nightwood, Dr. O’Connor had no choice but to hide his identity from the public and could only dress how he truly desired  within the confinement of his house. In Glee, Wade wore men’s clothes, accompanied by mascara and eyeshadow. After seeing his makeup during lunch one day, other members of the club recommended he “save his makeup for performances to avoid complicating their fragile relationship with the football and cheer teams.” In the episode, a cheerleader proceeds to call Wade cruel names and throws a slushie in his face. Barnes inclusion of a transgender character is believed to be one of the first known accounts in literature, and Wade was the first openly transgender character on Glee. In addition, there still remains a lack of representation of transgender characters in television and movies today. It is important to continue increasing the presence of LGBTQ actors and actresses to promote acceptance and diversity, as well as bring attention to the struggles still apparent today.

Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. Faber & Faber, 2015.
Murphy, Ryan, et al. “Glee ‘The New Rachel.’” Season 4, episode 1.

Matthew Snyder Short response #2~~Shift

Matthew Snyder

Sarah Boyd

24th February 2018

Engl 129


Shift embodies an experience had by most young adults; that being a job in which they have no intention of keeping, surrounded by adults that have or will work there for their entire lives. We see this played out in Shift, initiated by the break room scene of Alex’s first night on the job. As Alex describes his goals for future success, the other characters are left wondering what 800 dollars in their hand would look like. It seems as if this scene is simply awkward and somewhat pointless; however, it is this scene where the viewer sees an important motif included by Jonathan Yi. This motif consists of the diverse selection of characters in the post office, each possessing a peculiar hamartia related to repetition. It is through these repetitions that Alex is drawn further and further from is lifelong goals.

This sort of hodgepodge of cultures is intentionally included in the film to demonstrate that people from all backgrounds can be caught in the monotonous metronome of the workplace. By this, I mean that the office place is a place that lacks creativity, and seems to function to a narrow set of repetitive actions. The previously mentioned forms of repetition can be seen through the banging of the vending machine, spilling of the coffee, or the ever-increasing amount of pizza in the break room. These are all symbolic of their repetitious actions throughout the post office, constantly scanning, inserting, or even ruining envelopes. It’s through these actions that Alex becomes more and more complacent with his position at the post office, and less enticed to meet his previously set goals. As he meets with Melanie, it is clear that Alex is losing interest in the upper class lifestyle that she is imposing upon him through his body language and demeanor during the conversation. Towards the end of the film, it is revealed to the workers that they have all lost their jobs. This means very little to Alex and his acting career; however, he begins to realize that this job was everything to those around him. A melancholy conversation with Mark reveals to Alex that he is very well off in comparison to the other workers, and it seems as if Alex no longer wants to leave his co-workers or this lifestyle behind. He has become too accustomed to his newfound lifestyle, or one could say he his “in tune” with the monotonous metronome of the workplace. This is confirmed as Alex makes a mental connection with the gardener at Melanie’s house, and decides to abandon his initial goal of joining her within the “upper tier” of society.