Compistion 2 Section 70
Literary Analysis #1
I WANT TO LIVE
"I Want To Live" by Thom Jones illustrates the transformation to death in life's last breaths through the inner voice of a dying woman.We only know her as "she" throughout the whole story. The de-personalization of letting her remain nameless makes her reality seem contagious to those reading the story. Her journey begins, or should I say ends, when she's told she has cancer. Once, confronted with death nothing seems more real then the life of her consciousness.
"They were white, but the whole world had lost its color for her now that she'd heard those words. The shine was gone from the world."(48). We enter her life at the moment it seems to be lost. The whole world loses its color and animation when she learns her turn is up. She experiences highs and lows in her last moments. She meets Dilaudid and the cartoons, morphine and methadone. "On methadone tablets a warm orange glow sprung forth and bloomed like a glorious, time-lapse rose in her abdomen and then rolled through her body in orgasmic waves."(53). Without some outside source of warmth she is a prisoner in her broken body, trembling and weak. Trapped at a dead end. She feels alone in her ailment though comes to realize so are all of us. "Those people in the hospital rooms, gray and dying, that was her."(50). The son-in-law was an angel for this woman. "He was full of life. He was real. He was authentic. He even interjected little pockets of hope."(52). He lifted a spoon full of truth to her mouth, a taste she had not tasted in her cancer-state-of-being. He was exactly who she needed, when she had no one to relate with. Especially because her husband John died previously of what she was fighting now. The son-in-law did not look at her the way the others looked at her with pity and distance. By nature people avoid the ill and diseased, reading the story you feel that she is no longer of the living but of the dying breed.
Why be so afraid of death as if we have not experienced it before we were born. Death should be familiar to us because it is from death we grow. "What lies on the other side? It was probably the same thing that occurred before you were born-zilch. And zilch wasn't that bad." (53). We all come from death. Is death something to fear or rather something to welcome like you welcome the moon knowing you will finally get some rest. The day exhausts us to prepare us for night. Or does the night charge us to prepare us for day? Do we go back to the same nothingness we came from or are there separate disposals for the ones who have yet to exist and ones who have already existed. These are thoughts of people who have been kissed by death, like she. Watching death in for play. These are thoughts you have when you are blindfolded and told to go to a place with no doors, windows, stairs, floors, wall paper, or bedrooms. Handcuffed and bleeding you have to go and it doesn't matter if you are scared or ready. "Could such things be possible? To die? Really? Yes at some point she guessed you did die. But her? Now? So soon? With so little time to get used to the idea?"(50). The one thing in this whole wide world that is for sure, for certain, inevitable and all yours. The one thing that breaks the pattern of not knowing. No, we know. She knew it when she heard the word "can…cer"
"She realized that when she got right down to it, she wanted to live, more than anything on almost any terms."(51). She enters a panicked state when she realizes not only does she desperately want to live, but she hasn't lived the way she could have. Hence the title. Realizing this is so painful because she's trapped in a hospital bed. She reflects on her childhood at the end of the story. She admires Mr.Barnes a life-loving rooster and contemplates why she hadn't demonstrated love for her daughter the way she should have. Why she hasn't lived life the way she wanted now knowing its so easily taken. If she could have only come to this realization sooner, before she was dammed to this disease. She's experiencing drastic changes in her body, mood and the attention of the people around her. Life is so fragile and contained in the human body. So easily lost and yet so easily taken for granted. She dies more and more, fading in… and out… her conscious becomes quiet.
Death transforms life into different matter. We watch "she" go from serene, to panicked, to high, to low, to broken, to reflective, to desperate, to dead. Accompanied by various synthetic pill, synthetic experience and ecstasy to support what chemicals her brain can no longer produce. Accompanied also by a son-in-law who is not blood yet closer to her than her own. This is not unusual suffering or extraordinarily cruel, this is the transformation.