Ava Wrestles the Alligator

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Ava Wrestles the Alligator

By | November 2010
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Three Dimensions

Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain houses an unconventional triptych called The Garden of Earthly Delight painted by Hieronymus Bosch in 1504. A triptych works by combining three different panels and forming one picture, world, or scene. In the case of The Garden of Earthly Delight we are presented with a triptych that, not only has three complete scenes of Eden, Ecclesia’s Paradise, and Hell present when opened but when closed the viewer can see creation as a whole. In “Ava Wrestles the Alligator” the triptych given is Swamplandia! In this red neck fairytale the dimensions of Swamplandia! are parallel to the famous Bosch work due the ideas of Earth, Heaven, Hell, and Swamplandia! the kingdom.

In Swamplandia! the idea of Earth is known as everyday activities; the running of the park, feeding the alligators. Ava and Ossie have pet lizards and giggle at night in the room they share. “We keep giggling, happy and nervous, tickled by an incomplete innocence” (Russell 4). During these simple, earthly times of normality Ossie also begins to experiment with her newly formed womanly body. In The Garden of Earthly Delight the images of smiling, naked men and women cover the center panel. The figures in the painting are seen experiencing life as naturally as possible. Even the lives of two young girls can be represented in art painted hundreds of years before their time. This gives the reader and the avid art viewer the idea that it is human nature to experience, laugh, and dream about the world above and beyond the shell that is the human body. Ossie yearns to feel alive. With the use of her own body and her imagination she takes her kingdom and makes it her own.

Far above the kingdom of Swamplandia! the spirits of past Swamplandians hover; most importantly the deceased mother of Ava and Ossie. Ava tells the reader “summer rain is still the most comforting sound I know. I like to pretend that it’s our dead mother’s fingers, drumming on the...

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