Life is full of contradictions. The aforementioned adage exemplifies the main message of the narrative that talks about the experience of Isabel Jones in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As mentioned by Barthes, narrative plays an important role in the lives of people and also the society as a whole because it provides the necessary story and information about the various beliefs, values, experiences, and other important parts of an individual’s life.
In the same manner, the narrative about the experience of one person in Rio de Janeiro does not only expresses a part of that person’s life but rather it also talks about important issues about the country of Brazil and its relevance in to the society. Being the case, it is essential that the narrative is critically analyzed in order to see whether life is indeed full of contradictions as seen in the eyes of an individual who actually experienced and realized such kind of reality.
The first part of the narrative talks about the process by which the Isabel Jones has to live her country, the United States of America and travel far into a foreign land. The moment where Isabel left the Los Angeles and eventually her country, symbolizes the process of parting not only in terms of territorial boundaries but also when it comes to the comfort zone of the person. Living her country of origin starts her journey of experiencing new things that she is not used to.
In addition, the transition of living for a new country is actually a metaphor that symbolizes the departure of Isabel from her usual way of thinking about life and comfortable lifestyle in order to venture into new experiences that will substantially change her perspective about many things, especially life in general. After Isabel’s arrival in Brazil the flow of the narrative is actually divided into two distinct experiences, wherein she came face to face with both the good and bad sides of Brazil, specifically Rio de Janeiro.
The first impression that she had of Rio de Janeiro is the active and happy people that always have smiles in their faces. In relation to this, she also noticed the way by which people of various colors tend to harmoniously co-exist with each other because they each know their limitation. The use of vivid description about the scene that Isabel saw puts her narrative into life, especially with her imagery that is full of color that is also used in making the narrative of Imaginary Homelands more real-life to its readers.
The narrative even pointed out the exceptional sceneries of Rio de Janeiro by using irony of comparison, which is exemplified when she described the beach that is made of black and white stones. During this part of the narrative, Isabel’s perception of contradiction or differences are actually in a positive light that added more beauty to the new city that she is in. The frame of mind of Isabel is not explicitly shown in this part of narrative just like Jayne Anne Phillips’ Cheers (1979), the description of Rio de Janeiro’s shows her perspective without directly telling it.
When Isabel was already on her way to the Ipanema Lodge, she was already having a preview of the actual irony of the situation in Rio de Janeiro wherein she is both fascinated and confronted by the beautiful sceneries and interesting facts that Lunzinho were describing to her, which gives importance to the history of the country just like the way Isabel Alliende wrote her narrative entitled Unrooted Childhood but she also took notice of the children sleeping in cardboard boxes.
This is the first instance that Isabel is hit by the reality that Rio de Janeiro is not all color and fun because there is actually a depressing reality with it and that is poverty. Once Isabel arrived in the Ipanema Lodge she was introduced to her roommate, Christina Lopez. The narrative included the actual conversation between Isabel Jones and Christina Lopez during the first time that they meet each other.
It is quite obvious in their exchange of conversation that these women already like each other because there is a certain connection among them that made them feel at ease with each other. The comfortable relationship between Isabel and Christina is brought about by the common interest that they have like teaching children and even when it come to their sense of humor, which is quite observable when they both found the reaction of Lunzinho as funny.
The inclusion of conversation in the narrative gives its readers a more vivid impression of the relationship that exists between the two women. The exchange of conversation between two people is one of the most effective way to properly establish the dynamics of the relationship of the main actors who are involved in a narrative, which is also exemplified in the work Martin Amis’ wherein he used the actual conversation of him and his father in order to let the reader see and identify their actual relationship.
Isabel spent her following experiences in Rio de Janeiro with the company of Christina. The first things that they did together are enjoy the luxury and amenities of the Ipanema Lodge, especially its beach. Both women were having fun in the Ipanema beach when they met young men who they thought at first will protect them but eventual became the cause of trouble. At first, Isabel and Christina thought the young man was kind enough to offer his assistance to two women by means of making sure that no guys in the beach will take advantage of them.
The two women, having good-natured qualities just allow the young man to help them but the young man does not know his limitations and even threaten the NGO representative that was assigned to the two women. In this incident, Isabel saw that her previous notion that people in Rio de Janeiro know their limits, do not apply to all people because there are also those who will break the rules and get themselves hurt just like what happen to the young man.
In the behavior of the young man, the concept of psychoanalysis that is given importance in the post-modern theory of narrative is highlighted. Isabel and Christina are not the only people who are puzzled and shaken by the behavior of the young man because the inclusion of this incident in the narrative also makes its readers question psychological well-being of the person as well as the possible reasons that turn him into such kind of person. The most important and life-changing part of Isabel’s travel to Rio de Janeiro is when she experienced going to the favelas or slums in Brazil.
Isabel and Christina personally experience the poverty in the country wherein the young children that they have to teach are not given the opportunity to study or even play because most of them have to work at a very young age. Both women saw and feel the depression situation of the people in the favelas with their homes squatted in mountain side and the difficulty of the people to make ends meet for their everyday needs. It is in this situation that the narrative regarding Isabel’s experience in Rio de Janeiro does not only tell about her story but it also narrated the people in the favelas and the situation of Brazil.
The experience of Isabel in Rio de Janeiro allowed her to see the contradictions of life that the presence of good and lavish things in life also meant the existence of untoward things like poverty. Isabel’s visit in Rio de Janeiro changed her perspective about being a teacher and also her perspective in life because there is a deeper awareness within herself and also a challenge to contribute something and make a difference as an educator.
Courtney from Study Moose
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