Jo Cannon's Insignificant Gestures: Analysis

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Insignificant Gestures

A wrong decision at a critical point in time is sometimes all it takes to change our lives and our personalities in an instant. Such a decision can have serious emotional consequences for the person subjected to it. These decisions are often left to be taken by the soldiers and doctors who work in the hot spots of the world, Iraq, several African countries and Afghanistan, just to mention a few. The clinical term for the condition, which many of these brave souls often return to their own countries with, is Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. As to what will trigger such a reaction we can never be certain, and sometimes the solution as to how to start over and find our way back is to be found in the most unlikely of places. Suffering from this condition and finding the 'cure' in an unlikely place, is the case for the narrator of Jo Cannon's short story Insignificant Gestures from 2007.

Her starter vi med en tragtindledning, der går fra det generelle til det konkrete i netop denne tekst. Derudover er temaet slået fast fra begyndelsen - fokus vil være på hvordan en forkert beslutning kan medføre psykiske lidelser PTSD, og hvordan løsningen kan findes steder, man ikke regnede med. Forfatter, titel og udgivelsesår nævnes, og temaet afsløres netop i starten for at give læseren lyst til at læse videre. Læseren vil sikkert gerne vide, hvor denne fortæller finder 'løsningen' på sin sygdom.

Told through a series of flashbacks from the narrators present time, we get an insight into the mind of a character who has suffered severe emotional trauma. This trauma is caused by two errors of judgement which he made when he was stationed in Africa as a volunteer doctor ten years ago. The narrator is now 38 years old, has moved back to Britain, and has changed his line of work to psychiatry. Even though he has fled from Africa and the place where the trauma happened, he is still suffering and he is unable to forgive himself for the wrong decisions he made. "If I could peel back time, I would do things differently. But you don't get second chances" (ll. 11-12). He is on medication, has given up his drawing, something he used to enjoy, because he is afraid of letting his thoughts run free. Also sleep is something he is deprived of, "Even now, when a passing car lights up my wall I jerk awake with hot rivulets of anxiety running through my limps" (ll. 74-75). But he has not always been like this.

Dette afsnit tager hul på første punkt characterization fra opgaveformuleringen og går lige på analysen af fortælleren. I den første sætning bliver fortælleren præsenteret både som karakter, og som fortæller (1.person narrator). Punktet, point of view, bliver der ikke bedt om i opgaveformuleringen, men da det har relevans for historien, idet det er hovedpersonen selv der fortæller, er det en god idé at inddrage det. Det at fortælleren selv fortæller sin historie, giver os et indblik i hans verden, og hvilke tanker han har haft, og har i dag, og er dermed med til at karakterisere ham som menneske. Så point of view bliver en indgangsvinkel til at kunne lave en bedre characterization.

Fokus i det første afsnit af essayet ligger stadig på det emotionelle traume, fortælleren har været udsat for, introduceret i indledningen som tekstens tema. Det er også dette fokus, der kommer til at styre karakteristikken af fortælleren hele vejen igennem. Det er vigtigt hele tiden at holde en rød tråd i essayet og vise, at man stadig har fokus på det, man sagde, man ville have fokus på, i indledningen. Nøglen til at karakterisere fortælleren ligger i at finde ud af de bagvedliggende faktorer for hans emotionelle traume. Altså at finde ud af, hvem fortælleren var før traumet, hvad var medvirkende til hans ændrede adfærd, hvilken udvikling gik han igennem, og hvem har det gjort ham til i dag. Punkterne fra opgaveformuleringen, ”the relationship between the narrator and Celia”, ”the narrator's error of judgement” og ”the significance of...
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