In The Burn Journals (2004), Brent Runyon expresses the innermost feelings of his life and details the progress of his struggle against depression. In his memoirs, Runyon details past experiences in order to show that no matter what difficulties and hardships life may send your way, you can always find support. His audience is directed towards mainly teenagers, but the lessons within his experiences can be easily relatable to anyone. Runyon creates a deep emotional impression on the readers by introducing a character that teenagers can easily understand and then creating an environment and situation that parallels with a teenager’s life. In Runyon’s case, depression becomes the main issue. Depression, a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life, becomes the medium through which an emotional bond is created due to its frequent appearance in peoples’ lives. To combat depression, Runyon emphasizes how exceedingly valuable family support and how it prevents anyone from ever feeling truly alone in the world.
QUOTES & STYLE:
“But there’s something about him that’s sad. I think it’s the way he uses his hair like a screen to keep people from being able to see his eyes. I can relate to that” (Runyon 287). In this quote, the author uses a simile to compare the character’s hair with a screen, hinting that this person is extremely self-conscious and perhaps has some sort of emotional distress. This is demonstrated by his comment stating that “[he] can relate to [this]”, showing that he too has suffered from grief. The purpose of this excerpt is to inform readers that the author, the main character in the book, has been through such painful experiences himself and can understand the pain of such a memory.
“Before everything, I used to do this thing when I was upset - I used to take all my feelings and push them down inside me. It was like they were garbage and I was compacting it to get more in. I felt like I could keep pushing all my feelings down into my socks and I wouldn't have to worry about them. I don't think I do that anymore” (Runyon 180). Through the use of personification, the author compares feelings with garbage and describes how he would bury them in his soul so that he would not have to worry about them any longer. From this, we can deduce that the author, Brent Runyon, had a gloomy personality and exhibited feelings that he could not control. Towards the end, he stated that he no longer suppresses his emotions, indicating that he is no longer in a depression; he is has gained the strength to confront his own problems and not just bottle up his sadness.
“Every time I open my mouth to say what I’m feeling, something stops me and I have to make sure I’m not going to say anything stupid. It makes me crazy. And then, once I’ve figured out what I’m going to say, I have to go over it, over and over again, just to see if what I’m feeling is right… Like, if I want to say, I feel sad, do I say, I feel sad, or, I feel so sad, or.. How about, I’m the saddest boy in the world” (Runyon 186). Here, the author presents readers with some of his innermost feelings, detailing how self-conscious he was. He appears to be very insecure and finds difficulty in expressing himself to other people. His last statement shows his true purpose of wanting to tell people that he is sad, but not knowing the right words to say.
“Why would someone want to kill himself? Why would anyone do that? I couldn’t stop thinking about it and it got inside my head and started squirming around in there like a worm in the dirt, and then it seemed to disappear. But when it came back four years later, it was so big & so powerful, and it seemed like it ate up my whole brain and it was the only thing I could think about” (Runyon 118). In this excerpt, the author presents readers with rhetorical questions and a simile comparing the idea of suicide to