May 1st 2013
The Battle Against Emotions
Emotion is a word that best represents the feeling of a person. An individual can have more than one emotion and explore how it impacts him/herself as a whole. The growth of an individual is well attached to their emotions; and often times, emotions are used as a weakness. However, weakness of emotion also allows for growth in an individual. In the novel Soucouyant, written by the Canadian author, David Chariandy explores the theme emotion as weakness. Chariandy explores this common theme, as the growth of the character develops using the relationship between the mother and son. This relationship is used to show how different emotions have been created in use of a weakness to the character. Caramba, the son of an ill mother, tries to the best of his ability to be a successful care taker. However, the emotions of Caramba unfold as he reveals how he truly feels. Caramba learns to overcome his guilt about abandoning his mother as he comes to terms with his remorse that portrays his anger, his mother’s failing memory that connects to his childhood and the patience he discovers he has when care-taking for her. However, the result leads to Caramba crumbling furthermore inside and attempts to commit suicide. The growth of the character will slowly unfold the weaknesses caused by emotion in connection to the actions of the character. There are several different emotions that a human can feel. There are times where emotions over take the power and ability to control our minds. The greatest difficulty one can experience is to feel that they are responsible for a problem which has no solution to it. Just as Caramba, the protagonist of the novel, shows how he let his emotions over-rule his ability to think with a stable mind. The fact that his mother is unwell and he cannot help her frustrates him. His anger is shown as he screams “…because she’s not just some goddamned patient of yours, she’s my mother…!” (Chariandy 82). The frustration of Caramba and the anger he holds within himself shows as he yells at the nurse for treating his mother as an ordinary patient. The emotions of Caramba over took his sense to think straight, causing an outburst which created a moment of weakness for him. The emotion allows the character to evolve showing how much he cares for his mother. As the protagonist realizes this, he pitches in a helping hand to the nurse trying to fix his mother a meal. However, patience is lost by him when his mother does not reply to him. He then shouted to his mother, “can you shut up and tell me, Mother? Can you please just shut up for a moment and tell me?” (Chariandy 46). The character conveys his emotion of anger as he does not get a response from his mother when trying to help her. Caramba’s character understands and acknowledges the way he had spoken to his mother which appalled him and all the others. It is evident from this quote however, that Caramba understood the indecency in which he spoke to his mother allowing him to better recognize that he cannot repeat that mistake once again. The constant battle with his inner self presents itself yet again as he cries to the nurse screaming in a fit of rage “who the f*** are you to judge me, anyway?” (Chariandy 85). Caramba learns from this outbreak how much he is hurt deep down inside for leaving his mother and realizes that his inner conflict with himself has taken over him. As much as he tries to act normal and speak politely, he finds himself losing his anger in fits of rage making him understand how much trouble he is having coping with his mother’s illness and his absence from her. The unmistakable remorse and guilt are both apparent and these huge outbursts were just a cry of anger for him to release how he truly felt. The fact that he had his emotions trapped inside him troubled him and caused these flare-ups. However, the growth of his character through these explosions of anger fighting his inner conflict made him realize that his guilt and remorse cannot be an excuse to justify his actions and rude behavior. The growth of his character shows, as he understands that his emotions were just a weak moment for him to cry out loud by releasing anger to those in front of him. Caramba’s development shows for every single quote and supports the thesis showing an inner conflict which he expresses by crying aloud in anger to his mother and the nurse. Eventually, he understands that he cannot continuously carry the burden of his mother’s illness upon his shoulders. He learns to accept that his mother’s condition is not due to him leaving her. Caramba’s behavior proves how anger is used as a weakness as the guilt he had within himself for leaving her is still existent. He understands after each of these incidents that he needs to overcome the guilt and continue living without guilt or sorrow. A person’s past can play a huge role in their present. The connection that’s created may form a greater effect on the person more than the present moment they may be living. Other times, the connection from childhood memories to present day may introduce a sense of vulnerability. Caramba, the main character witnesses this happening to him as he reminisces of the past. He tries to see into his mother’s expression and cannot do so. This makes him wonder what is going through the mind of his very ill mother. He thinks to himself, “I remember Mother looking up into a cloudless sky, an infinite blue. I couldn’t read the expression on her face. After this, everything seemed to change.” (Chariandy 38). As much as he wanted to understand what his mother was thinking, it was difficult for him to do. Therefore, he left his mother alone letting her stay at peace with her own thoughts. Moreover, the bond of the two became stronger as they spent more quality time together. The growth of his character shows in the time that he spends with his mother reconnecting his bond and has flashbacks of memories. He understands he cannot help her but also realizes that he cannot see her as she is either. Caramba does not like to know about his mother’s illness and what stage it has processed to as he was just a little boy at the time. They visited the doctor once as a family for his mother; the doctor provided them with information about the condition his mother has. Returning home, he tried to read through the pamphlets provided and wasn’t strong enough to fulfill his need of becoming knowledgeable about his mother’s condition. His actions spoke louder than his words. Caramba thought, “I couldn’t use this. I couldn’t go further. I put the pamphlet back and joined Mother in the living room, determined to see her my own way.” (Chariandy 41). The vulnerability of Caramba exceeded far beyond words as he was a little boy at the time who wanted to believe his mother was not suffering from a serious case of Dementia. This allowed for a stronger bond between mother and son, as he did everything he could to help her through her illness as a child. The fact that he was not able to help her financially, being so young made him feel sad which is why he just wanted to view his mother in his own way; normal. Coming back to present day in the novel, as he returns home to see his mother, he sees first-hand how fragile she’s become. The older she got, the sicker she became. However, despite being so old and ill, she still knew how to have a good time. Mother and son got up for a dance and he was impressed at his mother`s memory. Caramba thinks “She moves briskly about the room. I struggle to keep up, astonished both by her energy and her memory of the moves.” (Chariandy 44). The bond between them grew even more so as they dance with one another. Caramba is speechless seeing his mother dancing and remembering every move as he struggles to keep up. This makes him feel fragile while she demonstrates the stronger character despite being ill. He feels weak and does not know how to express his feelings of vulnerability and astonishment at the same time. The growth of Caramba is impacted throughout the novel with vulnerability and flashbacks of his childhood strengthening the bond between mother and son. As he better understands that he cannot be blamed, rather help her with her illness like his childhood days; he would be happier. However, the little boy inside of him feels helpless trying to understand how his mother can remember some things and not others. The failing memory of Caramba’s mother proves how fragile Caramba had become. He understands that his past and present are two different times. However, there are times when Caramba is reminded of his past, proving this to be a weakness for him. His emotions take control of him as he realizes the difference in his mother and himself from the past and the present. Patience is a virtue, so it’s said. It’s much easier to rehearse the saying then it is to demonstrate it. However, Caramba shows patience fairly well as he understands that the condition his mother is suffering from is not his fault. Instead of feeling guilty further, he could help her with the things she is nott capable of doing herself which is exactly what he does. As he knows his mother does not have the ability to do much for herself, he becomes more caring and nurturing, and helps her with everything he possibly can. Caramba says, “I can bathe you. You can? I can do it too. I’m your son. She nods warily at this. I accept the bag of sugar from her and guide her upstairs to the bathroom.” (Chariandy 83). Although there is a nurse to provide assistance to Caramba’s mother, he chooses to help his mother on his own showing patience opposed to outbursts of anger. He really shows patience with his mother as he leads her upstairs to bathe her. This mother and son time also strengthens the bond between them helping him to stay patient longer when helping her. His character builds a stronger support system by helping his mother with his every task and creates an awareness and strength for greater patience as well. His mother has an accident shortly after she had been bathed and Caramba being kind and caring tries to help her yet again. However, this time around, he was in for a surprise as his mother refuses his help feeling embarrassed at the incident that had occurred. Caramba witnesses “She’s soiled herself again and she’s standing in a corner of her room with liquid clots running down her legs, her face breaking. ‘It’s alright, Mother. Let’s go to the bathroom and clean up. No. Go away. Come, Mother. We have to go now. No! Go away! Way, way. Don’t be silly, Mother, you can’t stay in that…state. Leave me!’ She screams.” (Chariandy 84-85). Caramba was brave and extremely patient with his mother knowing that it was not going to be easy to make her understand that it was going to be alright. Therefore, he slowly tried to make his way and instead, his mother screamed aloud as if he’d done something wrong. Despite the loud screaming and shock that he felt, he still stayed calm and tried to help his mother into another set of clothing after bathing her yet again. Caramba demonstrated patience very well in these events that occurred. The fact that he was not able to explain to his mother in words how he could help her however, show her when the opportunities were granted increased his tolerance for his mother; allowing him to present his patience. Caramba had the opportunity to display his patience once more when his mother grew a little older and acted more childish than ever before. He said, “I eventually persuade her to trust me with the fuzzy noose”. (Chariandy 108). These series of events caused Caramba to recognize how much his mother needed him, built patience and made him understand that this was the only way he could really overcome his guilt for leaving her in the beginning. He became more aware for his mother’s needs and satisfied her by taking care of her. Patience really portrayed the weakness as an emotion for Caramba because his patience was limited before. Though, he began to understand better that his mother’s illness is not of his fault which means there was no need for guilt. Once he overcame his guilty feeling that had been hurting him for so long, he realized the more he lent a helping hand to his mother, the more she would appreciate him and their bond would strengthen. The strength and patience used by Caramba is shown as a weakness because he slowly breaks apart inside himself. He examines his ill mother very carefully and tries to take care of her the best he is capable of doing so. He watches his mother become sicker however, still shows endurance until the end. Emotions always play a big role in a person’s life as they are the main key to understanding people. Caramba, the protagonist of the novel, tries his levels best in trying to understand his very sick mother. As he tries to do so, he understands many things which allow him to make an emotional connection. Caramba overcame his guilty feeling that had possession of him for a long period of time. He understood that his character developed more as he accomplished relieving himself of anger, strengthening his bond with his mother with her empowerment to lose memory, and patience being used to help her with her inabilities to fulfill tasks. In conclusion, emotion is portrayed as weakness and shows how a human can express and grow from how they may be feeling. Emotions should never be able to control our minds and disable our ability to think wisely and correctly. Moreover, emotions should be used to explore and understand ourselves better.
Chariandy, David. Soucouyant. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010. Print.