A literary analysis of hungry self by Rebecca Curtis Essay
A literary analysis of hungry self by Rebecca Curtis
Rebecca Curtis’ Hungry Self is a first-person narration that shows realities that an ordinary and young teen observes in life. The conflict of the story is a struggle between man and society. The author tries to explain why people experience negative feelings like not being happy; hating other people and irritation. The author uses instead verbal ironies to show also bitterness. The author is direct in the presenting of her thoughts but the character is hiding her remarks in the form of wicked comments. The reader experiences pain and sadness this becoming the general mood of the story even if the character has a serious tone.
The topic may seem about discrimination against fat people but it has implied theme about people’s discontents and why the Self is still Hungry. Her solution is her own answer to a Hungry Self- making your self important and contentment that bring about happiness. The author has used symbolism, imagery and irony in the story- that I will discuss into in the succeeding paragraphs. The setting is summer in a Chinese restaurant close to the lake. This is because in the restaurant, many things are happening like in ordinary society. It is where cooks are paid less because of illegal residence.
Waiters like the narrator want more orders and better tips even if they know of the menus health risks or gross servants’ doings and owners who would not react as long as profit and image are not affected. The author shows these in the following gestures: Ngoc would be in an intolerant mood that night because the same bikers who came every year, a group of them, fat and bearded and staggering drunk, had stopped her in the lobby and chanted, Ngoc, Ngoc, Ngoc, give us a chink hug Ngoc, give us a chink hug, and Ngoc had had to totter on over in her heels and her Elvira dress and scream, So good to see you!
So good to see you! and press herself against each one of their enormous bodies [her irritation disguised if only to avoid losing customers]… Also the next section of the story shows a social reality: He knew how to say “shitfucker” and “asslick” and had a habit of wiping his dick with his hands then not washing them after and telling me about it, charades style. Ngoc knew about this but couldn’t do much. The idea of lies is also showed in this part of story: … I took their orders. I recommended lo mein. I said, “Everyone likes it”.
I did not say, everyone likes it because it is noodles in oil and you will like it too. …because she weighed two hundred and sixty pounds and there was nothing on our menu that it was a good idea for her to eat [she nonetheless entertains them as this will mean earnings for Ngoc and job for her] … The setting becomes a symbolism of the society where lies become a normal day to day occurring. Life for the main character is full of forces that make people decide even if they not like them. Like, why do we need to deal with people we do not want to deal with?
And why do we have to lie to other people just to make them happy, like calling Jud a James Dean look- alike even if untrue? Or because you are lovers then you have to be seated side by side to each other or vice versa. For instance:. …Then we had a round of inquiry and solicitation, which was not strictly necessary since we would probably not see each other again [not strictly necessary then totally not indispensable, but why do we do it? ]… Or in: …despite the fact that we took ten minutes to study the menu, we always knew exactly what we would order [so what’s the point reading the menu?
]… The above quotations have expressed ironies but help the story in presenting some of life’s ironies as well. The celebration of the bikers they call the “Bikers Week” and the idea of “Buffet Day”- where fat people came because other fat people are there symbolize society’s tradition. Why do we feel comfort in the company of our equals? Such thing will only happen if there is unequal treatment or discrimination. Why do we celebrate our uniqueness when there are hundreds of others like us (this is a contradiction for me)? Why do we hide our sadness and rejoice in other people’s loneliness?
Imagine a person like the narrator’s ex-psychiatrist who is a patient herself of a different kind of disorder, believing that she could make other people better. The narrator mentioned, “…He lit the little red candle in the booth, where he’d seated a lonely and enormous woman… I saw that the woman was my ex-psychiatrist. ” The narrator, one of the main characters is a nineteen-year old girl serving as a waitress in the said restaurant- a brave and smart person to me because she can see through people. Life to her is full of decisions we didn’t like but we make out of uncontrollable situations.
Even if we choose and do our actions, we are still moved by the structures not by us. The narrator no name for instance becomes a waitress because she has no money; Johnny, helps Ngoc, his mother and owner of the restaurant because that she is a widow; or to explain things the way the narrator does in the story like in the following: …Ngoc’s son, was lighting the red evening candles with half an eye on me, because he liked to keep an eye on the help, or maybe because his mother had taught him to… And in: …I was terribly in love with him, but we were separated by race and by the fact that he hated me…
The above quote has expressed discrimination too. The same with the expression, “She was a fat ugly lesbian”- that is discrimination by gender and appearance. The author in these examples has used imagery for meaning. Even if these illogical things, hatred and pains, the author and the narrator seeks peace of mind as symbolized in the way the narrator has become attracted at the stars above the lake, the boats that are docking for the night. Even if for now, the things they have done is of meantime satisfaction to express annoyance against these societal problems.
In the story that is shown in the narrator’s behavior to clients- like calling them names, inventing funny labels, frownings behind their backs, wondering on their stupidity, lying about menus and smoking cocaine in the basement. But she waits for her cookies to come true. For her Hungry Self this is what can substitute for food- not wealth that is only like crumpled dollar bills or twenty that goes to Ken for coke, not Harry’s diet pretzels that still did not make the ex-psychiatrist happy but as in the following quotes- a return to her being innocent like child.
I’d been bringing out ten fortune cookies on an egg-roll plate with a pile of pineapple chunks topped by whipped cream and my specialty, umbrella-lodged-in-cherry, because I remembered, when I was kid, how excited I’d been whenever we went out to eat Chinese… The above section is a foreshadowing effect. It says simply here the answer really to a Hungry Self is self-worth of an individual that gives contentment and happiness in life. In a complex world we live in full of lies – we remain hungry. Works Cited Curtis, Rebecca. Hungry Self.
Subject: Rebecca Curtis,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 21 April 2017
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