The Complexity of Coping
Each individual deals with events in their lives in many different ways. Some people are addicted to alcohol, some people cry for years, and some people just forget the past. No matter what the situations are, people all have different ways to cope. In the novel Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer utilizes this theme and applies it to each of his main characters. His characters all have different atrocities, some more so than others. For instance Alex has an abusive father and can only solve his problems threw his newfound love for writing. Grandpa betrayed his best friend, and we learn from his stories and his neglectance of intimacy. Brod settles her troubles by just persevering and attempting to love and be truthful. All these characters use their experiences and their solution to tie into a bigger picture, and that is the theme of the novel: Different characters use different strategies to settle the past experience, and they do what they can to cope with memories of traumatic experiences. The protagonist of this story, Alex, is a kind childish adult. He is from a family of tour guides, and abusive and elusive figures. Alex is told to be a womanizer, being carnal and intimate with many women. “I have many girls, believe me, and they all have different name for me. One dubs me Baby, not because I am a baby, but because she attends to me. Another dubs me All night. Do you want to know why? I have a girl who dubs me Currency, because I disseminate so much currency around her. She licks my chops for it.” Here is the first information we have on Alex. The audience is automatically making assumptions why it is so important that we know all of his sexual endeavors and his names. Naming or “dubbing” is something that Alex takes as very important. The point of naming is being identified as an individual and being known. Alex is very protective of his names because it is evident that he is insecure. What other normal, sane person comes up to someone and tells you about their sex life? Only a cocky self conceited one. See, Alex’ situation is justifiable to his cockiness. His family consists of a kind and humble mother, an abusive father, a depressed and non present grandfather, and a little brother that idolizes him. Alex has many problems and we learn that they stem from his relationship with his father; his dad is known to hit him and verbally abuse him. His father commanded him and his grandfather to take a man around to visit the client’s family roots. On this trip Alex and the client, Jonathan, become good friends and their relationship evolves into long distance writing. Through this writing we see Alex open up and find a place of solitude. Writing has been around since language originated, yet many people do not use its unlimited benefits. Alex uses his writing to get over his troubles and learn about himself. He is the first character in the novel that we meet that is dealing with his troubles and hardships in a productive way. Although we do not see the immediate affect the writing has on him, we do see him talking about things that he would not talk about if it was not in text. His first and second letter talks about his grandfather and how he is sick and depressed for an unknown reason. This concern and care is something that is simply not seen in his description of himself as a person whose mother gets mad at him for being with his friends too often. Alex truly is a family man, and is not the womanizing, careless person he wants to be, or at least thinks he wants to be. Alex is not actually spending money on women, but yet saving money for a better life for him and Little Igor, his little brother. These ideas and details would never be exposed to anyone if he did not have a place to put it, which is literature. Letters between the two characters, Alex and Jonathan, are not the only literature Alex is writing, he is also working on a story of his trip with Jonathan. This story...
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