The End of the Road
“Hell, And How I Got Here” by Brenda Medina and “Puzzle Pieces” by Barbara Parsons Lane are two short stories from the book Couldn’t Keep It To Myself by Wally Lamb. Medina and Lane are two women who are serving time in a maximum security prison. Brenda Lane is serving time for homicide and Barbara Parsons Lane is serving time for manslaughter. Brenda was involved in a gang-related killing while Barbara was convicted of killing her abusive husband. Each of these women lived their lives being subjected to abuse, yet each woman portrayed themselves differently. Brenda was determined to gain power and not feel like an outsider in her own life. She was determined to take control and she was longer going to be the “odd girl out” (148). Barbara was living life as a victim and saw only one way to end the abuse. She was victimized in a way that made her feel as if she had no way of escaping her nightmare. Brenda found ways to empower herself in order to find a place in the world as Barbara was belittled to the point where she felt she was too weak to be able to walk away .In “Hell, And How I Got Here,” Brenda went through life finding ways to gain power. Brenda felt like an outsider for much of her childhood. She spent many unhappy years at a private school, feeling that she didn’t belong. It was not until her high school years, that she finally felt liberated. It was at this time of her life when Brenda started trying to find ways to empower herself and gain the status she was dreaming of. During high school, Brenda started dating Manny, a member of a local gang, The Unidad. Brenda recalled that from the age of fourteen until she went to prison at the age of seventeen, “Manny ran through my veins” (152). Even though her mother disapproved of Manny, Brenda dated Manny, the boy with the “outlaw aura.” Going against her mother’s wishes made Brenda feel powerful. She was going to run her own life from now on. As a child, Barbara was a lost little...
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