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Throughout the chapter ‘Into The Dark’, Keenan goes through some distinct phases of mental states, each caused by a previous one and ultimately by his imprisonment. He uses a various range of strong descriptions to portray his condition, ideas, thoughts and impressions. The unusual syntax used throughout the chapter conveys the states of mind which he goes though, guiding the reader into the prisoner’s world. Keenan uses various techniques to convey the feeling of human degradation that he went through during the first period of his captivity.
One of these is the enumeration of adjectives or nouns which communicate the misery to which he was reduced to. Such examples include the ‘old, ragged, filthy cover’ which suggest the grimy circumstances in which he had to live in. The ‘excrement, sweat, the perspiration’ emphasise this obloquy through which he goes. ‘Sweat’ and ‘perspiration’ imply oppressive heat, a sensation of lack of air. The ‘excrement’ implies that in this already oppressive space, Keenan is ‘reduced to sleeping in the smell’ of his ‘own filth’. This feeling is further emphasised by the quotation ‘…
squat down over it. Defecate on it. I defecate (… ) and then I carefully wrap my excrement… ‘ These short, blunt sentences imply that Keenan wants to describe his condition as close to reality as possible, therefore not sparing the reader from any brusque or less polite words, because he was not spared from any unpleasantness either. The enumerations suggest the plentiful reasons of his never ending human degradation and exposure to filth. Keenan described himself as ‘a bag of flesh and scrape, a heap of offal tossed unwanted in the corner of this filthy room.
‘ This portrayal of himself, of ‘flesh’ and ‘heap of offal’ is dehumanizing as it reduces him to something repulsive and purely physical, thus overlooking the details that makes him human, such as feelings, mind and judgement. He is ‘tossed in the corner’, therefore not valuable for anyone. The fact that he is thrown in a ‘filthy’ corner further emphasise his lack of value and significance. All these show how Keenan’s self esteem and dignity was crushed, and he as a person was reduced to nothing more than a worthless and abhorrent body.
This conveys the extreme human degradation though which he goes. Keenan’s lack of stimuli and life are described throughout the chapter, which gives the reader and idea of the feeling of endless emptiness though which the hostages go. Referring to his urine and drinking water going ‘From bottle to bottle, through me, this fluid will daily run’, Keenan uses these endless cycles of life to symbolise the monotonous days of his captivity. The phase ‘from bottle to bottle’ and ‘though me’ suggest a continuous flow, while the word ‘daily’ informs us of the length of one standard cycle.
Keenan seems to live the same tedious days over and over again, making him feel lifeless and purposeless. The syntax of his writing implies dullness, repetition and lack of life as well. The phase ‘No sound, no noise, nothing. Yet I try to force this scream. Why can I not scream? But no noise comes from me. Not even a faint echo of cry. I am full with nothing. ‘ is a very good example for this point. His sentences are very short, implying the lack of thing and stimuli to talk about. ‘Why can I not scream? ‘ is almost a rhetoric question as he has no one to get an answer from.
This highlights the lack of stuff to think about. And there are some sentences which are just an enumeration of words, like ‘No sound, no noise, nothing. ‘ The repetition of ‘no’ and ‘nothing’ throughout this chapter father emphasise the lack of stimuli, as there are no objects, persons or phenomena to ponder about. In the end the narrator expresses his despair by confessing that he is ‘full with nothing’, implying his frantic need of ‘something’ that he can ‘think about’, that can occupy his brain. Due to this prolonged lack of stimuli, Keenan becomes temporarily mentally unbalanced, with his senses going out of control.