Writing Myself Into the Story Essay

Submitted By peachybeachy
Words: 1298
Pages: 6

"They were all waiting for the large puppet to speak, but it could say nothing. It stamped a foot to try and bring out a language. The figure knelt, one hand banging down on the wooden floor as if pleading for help - a terrible loudness entering the silent performance (Ondaatje, 117)." This is a statement from In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje that describes the actions of the actress, Alice Gull, as she is portraying the protagonist puppet in the play.

Alice Gull is a character who had once been a nun but had decided to step out of that life to be someone more. To be a nun means to be cautious of the body and to be limited in the ways of communicating through the usage of the body. After falling off of the bridge and being saved by a male bridge worker, and after associating herself to this male by listening and drinking with him for a night, Alice becomes determined to use her body language to communicate to as much individuals as possible about her ideology, about what people needed to know, about the inequality of wealth that exists in their society; she conveys the plight of the workers and uses actions to voice the marginalized. To have been able to achieve this, she neglected her identity as a nun in the dark, "If Alice had been a nun... (144)", and became an actress in the light.

I can relate to this shift in lifestyle that took place in Alice's life. Ever since childhood, I have always been someone who was very focused on myself. I knew very well of what I wanted and what my goals and plans were; it was very rare that I gave thought to how I can contribute to society. This was my personality until I walked into the Toronto Public Library one day when I was in grade nine and came across a group of teenagers just like myself, each sitting next to an elementary student genuinely tutoring them. I have always been a student with high grades and so that image I saw got me to think about how much I can contribute just by communicating my skills and knowledge to those elementary students whom might need it to do better at school. I immediately went to register in the program as a volunteer and ever since then, I have been a tutor in the Leading to Reading Program at the Toronto Public Library. Like the way audiences look up to Alice when she is on stage and in the light, teaching for me puts me in the light as the student depends and looks up to me. I also volunteered at YEP where I taught parents to use computers, and at the RPSM where I helped young kids who had trouble with learning the piano. I was able to contribute to society the skills of education and the knowledge of the academics by stepping out of the obliviousness of what I can do and becoming a tutor.

Alice is one of the few characters in Ondaatje's novel who lived to serve an obvious purpose. Alice's goal, like Ondaatje's as he write the book, is to bring out the importance of those that are forgotten in history. Through Alice, readers understand the message of Ondaatje as she strive as an actress to perform and imitate the existence of those that we don't acknowledge (117) but are the individuals who have worked harder than anyone else and only because of them, did the riches manage to accomplish. Similar to Alice, I have a main purpose at this age too which is to do well in school and university and be able to do what I want to in the distant future; however unlike Alice, my purpose is not as compassionate as hers due to the current lack of understanding of oneself.

Alice's character emphasizes the famous saying: Action Speaks Louder Than Words and this can be justified as the first quotation of this essay describes the absence of words and the presence of action Alice uses to present meaning (117). I am not an actress and I have no skill in acting but like Alice, I do use gestures very frequently on an everyday bases to accompany the words that I speak. Sometimes I would notice that phrases in which I try but am not able to express