Isak Dinesen’s “The Blue Jar”
Isak Dinesen’s “The Blue Jar”
Blue Roller coasters are the best rides at amusement parks. On the way up your head is filed with mixed emotions and your body tingles with anticipation. On the way down your mind no longer thinks but reacts to the track ahead and your body is filled with excitement. Then, it is over. The ride was short and ended as quickly as it begun. Isak Dinesen’s “The Blue Jar” is like a roller coaster. Its plot follows the track of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and conclusion not once, but twice. Also, it isn’t only up and down but many twist and turns are discovered during the course of the plot as well. The effect of this unusual double plot exposes Helena’s character and her changes.
The opening two paragraphs is the mini plot. The exposition introduces us to the main character, Lady Helena and her father, an old rich Englishman. They sail around the world to such places as Persia, Japan and China collecting blue china. The rising action is brief and consists of two words, “It happened.” Then the climax happens rapidly. The boat they are traveling on catches on fire and Helena is forgotten. Luckily, a young English sailor rescues her and carries her to a waiting lifeboat. The Falling action in the mini plot is their nine-day ordeal of floating for nine days before they are recovered. The conclusion of the concise plot is the Dutch merchantmen ship, Helena’s return to England, her reunion with her father and finally, the father paying and sending the young sailor who rescued her to the other hemisphere.
The mini plot effects Helena in many ways. It shows the bond that Helena and her father have because they travel the world together. The old Englishman loves his daughter very much, “The old lord had believed his daughter to be dead. He now wept with joy, and at once took her off to a fashionable watering-place so that she might recover from the hard ships she has gone through.” The father loves her so much, he believes that it is unpleasant for Helena to think that she was rescued by someone from a lower class, “For what, would be the good of that.” The ending of the mini plot also arises questions about Helena. Is she going to recover? What is she going to do now? The mini plot also has grabbed the readers’ attention, drawn them into the story and changed the focus of the story to Helena.
The major plot of the story has now taken over. The exposition is lady Helena’s recovery and her new apathetic view on life. The rising action entails that lady Helena has become obsessed with the perfect blue color. Even her father cannot distract her from her goal when he suggests that it might not exist. Helena’s reply, “Surely there must be some of it left from the time when all the world was blue.” The climax has Lady Helena ultimately finding her perfect blue jar she was in search of for so long.
Her father has already passed away but Helena’s life is complete, “I have found it at last. This is the true blue.” The falling action takes over and her life’s meaning has ended, ” now I can die. And when I am dead you will cut out my heart and lay it in the blue jar. For then everything will be as it was then. All shall be blue around me, and in the midst of the blue world my heart will be innocent and free, and will beat gently, like the wake that sings, like the drops that fall from an oar blade.” The conclusion is short; she dies shortly after her discovery.
This major plot answers the question left by the mini plot. Yes, Helena recovers and she decided to look for a blue jar like her father use to collect blue china. This brings together the importance of the blue jar as it relates back to the mini plot exposure of Helena and her fathers bond. Her whole life she was surrounded by blue. When her and her father were sailing, she had the blue skies and the blue water. When she was at home with her father she had all the blue china. Blue meant safety and love to her and now her dead heart was engulfed in that same blue she had been looking for.
The effect of this unusual double plot is that it exposes Helens true character. It also reveilles the love and bond Helena and her father share. Lastly, this unusual double plot makes the story interesting.