23 September 2014
One of my favorite poems is by Shel Silverstein, and it is called Masks. It goes like this, 'She had blue skin/, and so did he. He kept it hid/ and so did she. They searched for blue/ their whole life through,/ then passed right by--/ and never knew' (Masks by Shel Silverstein) We all wear masks; we try all try and fit what society calls 'normal'. However, if we all try and fit something that no one truly is, how can it be called normal? If we all wear masks, but keep looking for someone that is like us, then we will never meet anybody like us, anybody with similar tastes because we change who we are for other people. Some people even have multiple masks. I personally do, I act different around some of my guy friends than I would act around some of my girl friends. I would act different at home than I would at school. And it is like Nathaniel Hawthorne said, 'No man [or woman], for any considerable period of time can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true' I lose myself sometimes, and have to spend a lot of time to myself thinking which one I am, the quiet boy at home or the loud one at school. I agree with Nathaniel Hawthorne's quote, and here is how it relates to all the stories we have read so far.
In 'Shooting an Elephant', the narrator had to wear two masks. The one he wore for the crowds, and the one he wore for himself. In his heart he knew it was wrong what he was doing, oppressing the locals, but he still did it. And in his heart, he knew he shouldn't shoot the elephant, but he still did it. He did all of this because of his public mask. Because he was part of England, and he was part of their armed forces, he had to act like the rest of them to maintain order. He didn't like it but he still did. The narrator didn't want to look like a fool. He clearly says that at the end, when he says 'I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking like a fool' (George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant) He also clearly uses the metaphor of the mask, and how he had to put it on when he said 'He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the ‘natives’, and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives’ expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.' (George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant')
The next story we read, The Scarlet Ibis also has some references to wearing a mask. This story was interesting in the way that it shows the masks we wear internally. The narrator goes into how we all have a cruel side, saying 'There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love, much as our blood sometimes bears the seed of our destruction, and at times I was mean to Doodle… The knowledge that Doodle's and my plans had come to naught was bitter and that streak of cruelty within me awakened' (James Hurst, The Scarlet Ibis) It shows us that our own human emotions can act as a mask sometimes too. We can put on a mask and act nice to everyone, but within each one of us there is a streak of cruelty. It can make us ashamed of ourselves, and when it comes out we regret it, but it is part of being human.
A&P by John Updike illustrates how society can put a mask on the world for us to protect or shield us instead of letting us see how truly messed up the world is. Sammy had ideas of chivalry in his mind, and he wants to be the knight in shining armor. However, he can kind of see the world as it is. He realizes that everyone else…