Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Joe Liu's Formal Blog

Hey Everyone,

It is still hard to believe that spring break is really over! I haven’t really gotten in to the full swing of informal blogging yet, so that stinks. I think I missed 2, so hopefully I’ll find a way to make up for it. Are there really only 5 weeks left in this semester?!?

For this formal blog, I analyzed (to the best of my ability) a small group of slides I found to be very interesting. It is about three forths of the way in the book when the grampa Jimmy Corrigan is at the world fair, right after when his Italian friend’s father gives him the little iron horse at the fair for free. Jimmy Corrigan and his father were just about to ride in the elevators for a “grand view.” The next couple of slides then showed Jimmy and his father stepping into the elevator and someone slamming down the gates. Jimmy is in his nightshirt with a very worried expression on his face (as always). When the gates shut and were locked, they made “klnck” and “klkg” noises.

At first, these scenes seem very ordinary and plain. I definitely didn’t really think much about it all my first time through this section. I did wonder though, why did he have a nightshirt on? And why did Chris Ware put so much emphasis (a good three slides) on just showing Jimmy and his Father walking into an elevator? I took note of this scene and eventually came back to it.

When you read further into it, you do realize that Jimmy was dreaming this whole sequence, which did occur to me when I saw the nightshirt, but I didn’t think much more about it. What is really interesting to me though (my own interpretation) is how Chris Ware really puts emphasis on the sounds of what is going on in the panels. He really makes it clear that when the doors shut, there is a “klnck,” and when the doors are locked, there is a “klkg.” When I read this, the noises really set off something in my head. For some reason, I could very easily visualize this all happening in a movie, like a criminal being shut and locked into a prison cell. If you look at these frames along by themselves and you do not put it into the context of the rest of the story, you would think that Jimmy and his Father are being locked into a jail cell. I think Chris Ware did this purposely.

It can be deduced that this Jimmy really is having a hard time with his father. He is constantly abused, and he can’t even have a really “normal” childhood. He can’t even go over to a friend’s house to make little toys without being forced home and hit with a belt. Also, he dreams of his Father actually killing him by throwing him off of the top of the world fair building! I can imagine it takes a lot of suffering and enduring to actually dream of your own father throwing you off of the roof of a building.

For these reasons, I can then see why Jimmy Corrigan is portrayed like this when he is put in the elevator. He feels suppressed from life. He is mentally and physically almost locked into a cell with his father. There is nothing he can do to improve his situation, and as a result, he lives a very lifeless childhood. Although it all sounds very bleak, I can believe the situation. Seeing the modern Jimmy Corrigan really strengthens this argument. Both of the characters are awkward and weird, which can be attributed with their fathers. The grandpa Jimmy Corrigan was constantly abused by his father, which really affected the rest of his life. The modern Jimmy Corrigan grew up without a father, which really affected the rest of his life too! These parallels I found to be extremely interesting, and they all stemmed from the three panels of Jimmy Corrigan getting into the elevator in his dream.

To just wrap this up in a random way, there was one other thing I thought about when I analyzed this scene. Many times when I dream, I can actually see myself in my dream, like I am watching a movie. I can see myself doing things that I would usually do, but I can’t control myself in the dream. Throughout these scenes, I imagine Jimmy Corrigan dreaming the whole sequence, but not actually dreaming by controlling his own character, but by seeing it all like he is watching a movie from above. He could actually see himself being locked into the jail cell and hear all of the “klnck”ing and “klkg”ing. In this way, his suppression from having a normal life is emphasized even more. It is very sad whenever a child is having a miserable life, but it is even more sad when the child knows that he is having a miserable life.

All in all, I really liked this graphic novel. I know last week in class I talked about how much I hated this reading, but I really changed my opinion over the last 2 weeks. I could really connect with the characters at times and feel their emotions. I think it is amazing how I would read certain sections of the book and then think “Hey, that is what I would do” or “Hey, that is really interesting because I think the same things!” In general, I am glad this was assigned and am curious on what type of discussions we are going to have about the 2nd half of the story in class on thursday.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Your focus on the idea of this sequence as both a prison and as a dream is important.

It's worth briefly explaining that JC's grandfather doesn't seem to be literally dreaming this sequence - instead, he's telling the story of the fair to Amy, who is doing a school project (as a child). Yet, he's seeing it all as if in a dream (despite the relative realism of most of his section). Why?

Presumably he has dreamed and thought through and rehashed this material so many times through his long life that he has difficulty separating dream from reality...

I went through all of this to point out one more thing going on with the fact (the k sounds that you reference sound, to me, like a clanking chain) that this is a pseudo-dream sequence that's also a prison. Combine the two thoughts: JC's grandfather is in a metaphorical prison made out of his dreams - a tendency he has passed on to his grandson...