Thoughts Before Thanksgiving

I found our readings this week to be interesting and thought provoking on so many levels. I am still seeing connections even after reading and discussing. However, I will try to be concise about what I want to say as there is just way too much to cover in these texts.

One thing that I am just now thinking about and am kind of upset we didn’t discuss in class is what the title “Stragglers in the Dust” is trying to do. At first I read it as Stranglers and that was a whole different vibe. However, who are the stragglers? In a commentary about race and how racial prejudices could possibly end with death, is it speaking to those left behind? Those who are have allowed their hate to make them less than alive. I think this is something to consider as well as the idea that the stragglers are those who think racial prejudice could change, the Nan’s of the world. Also, does dust refer to death or something more? I think it is interesting not only that there is a cleaning of metal, a possibly dusting of things but also a covering. Maybe less in a soiling sense and more in a dust sounds a lot like dusk, the time when day is done and light disappears. This could be ironic, because issues are being brought to light in this story. However, if dusk suggests death perhaps the ultimate death in this story is the hope that Jim is in that tomb.

I also talked briefly in class about identification and how that almost lessens a person. Professor Scanlon spoke on the relatives who want authentic remains of their loved ones which is a genuine desire but I am in the category that I rather not know. I would rather not know how they died, or where. I don’t know how good the military is with sending back remains but bringing them to the United States increases the probability they wouldn’t make it back a second time. Maybe I’m just a pessimist but I think what really gets me is how they misidentified that man in the iconic Iwo Jima photo awhile back. I mean can you imagine being told your loved one wasn’t really the person in that photo. It kind of thrust them down the pedestal, literally because that photo is so well-known and they are raising the American flag. I also think we can’t say that every soldier matters as much as the next. One, that would not fly in the military, they have ranks for a reason, though they can be abused. Someone has to lead and others must follow. Are those who deny these rules the stragglers?

Which leads us into “Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself”. So I looked up the last name thinking it had to mean something. I am still unclear. I found that the surname is Old Welsh for ugl(high) ma(place), the last name of Cardinal Beaton’s mistress, as well as a character in 1984 and War of the Worlds. Not sure if these have anything to do with one another but they could. I will not bore you with my conspiracy theories, as all these could just be a coincidence.

I also found it interesting that there was a cave in this story. To me this spoke about the philosophy of finding ones self or the truth in the world around them. It definitely made me think of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. If we are supposed to read this metaphysically that makes sense. Or literally in that while she is exploring a cave she is exploring herself. The deeper into the cave/dream she goes, the deeper into herself, which means the cave could stand for the parts of herself both exposed and yet hidden. Maybe that is why she is dead at the end. They don’t tell us how she dies but whatever she discovered in that cave killed her. Was the truth too much to handle? I don’t know. Also what was the truth she finds do you thing? It never gets explained and I really wonder why that is.

More so that dream really threw me off and I was not sure what to think of it. Explantations would be welcome because at first I thought it was in reality and that she just had a break down and decided to dress as a barbarian of sorts.

With the dressing along with the color of her hair and the fact that this takes place in Europe, all made me think of Mrs. Doubtfire. Now I realize people do have issues with aspects of this movie as people really do suffer from feeling as if they were meant to be someone else daily. Where do these types of movies fall into our conversation? Another one is Some Like It Hot, where escape from ones identity or loss of it, is only temporary. Do you think Miss Ogilvy killed herself (though it never specifically says I suppose) because she realized she could not live the same life she had in the military?

1 thought on “Thoughts Before Thanksgiving

  1. You brought up some really good points and questions. Concerning the “Stragglers in the Dust,” I never really paid much attention to the title. However, after thinking about it now I believe that the Stragglers are those who hope that racism would die one day, going off of what you said. Like what you said “Nan’s of the world.” I think that this title just reinforces the fact that there will most likely always be racism and those who think otherwise have false hope. The dust could be referring to the hope of racism ending; that that hope is dead.

    Concerning the second story, I think she committed suicide for a couple of reasons. When she first gets to the island and meets who I think is the owner of the restaurant or place she is staying, she feels a lot of anxiety. I think she has tried for so long to suppress her feelings due to having to conform to social norms. However, after being in the military where she was not only accepted but praised, she had to go back to that life again of conforming to society’s standards and just could not bear the idea of that. She also felt really lonely which she constantly talked about. How she could not find anyone to love and live her life with and was stuck with her sisters even at an older age. Maybe after her dream she realized that she could no longer live her life alone and wanted to be loved. She probably even lost hope of ever being able to truly be herself. Once the war ended, her life ended due to the fact that she felt like she had to pretend to be something that she was not. Also that fantasy was so strong it seemed real especially to me the reader. So I think that the fantasy felt even realer to her yet when she came back to reality she was so miserable knowing that the fantasy was not true and decided to die instead.

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