Obsession and Control

Obsession and Control - ENG 243.18 Obsession Control Paige...

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October 24, 2006 ENG 243.18 Paige Turner once said, “Chas Elliot and his wife, Grace, in Robert Stone’s Helping are much like Richard Steel in Phan Huy Dong’s The Billion Dollar Skeleton. All three are obsessed by their desires to hang onto the past and wreak havoc in the present because they cannot accept their inability to control their lives.” Chas Elliot, his wife Grace, and Richard Steel deceive, badger, and use others in an attempt to achieve their desires and sustain the control they wish to demonstrate. Chas Elliot, an alcoholic Vietnam War veteran and social worker, is struggling to sustain his control over his alcohol intake and his memories. Chas is also trying to overcome his days as a soldier, and forget the bloody images of razor wire and decapitation embedded in his memory. Chas’ violent mentality is a result of his time on the battlefield, which is triggered by alcohol. He joins Alcoholics Anonymous, and managed to be sober for 15 months, but loses control and suffers a relapse after talking to a patient, Blankenship. Blankenship visits his social worker, Chas, to discuss a vivid dream he has of Vietnam. At first Chas dismisses his claims to a dream about a situation Blankenship never experienced, but eventually allows him to elaborate. In the dream, he is looking up at a black, smoke-filled sky, feeling scared, and with the bizarre impression of “floating in rubber”. This image reminds Chas of his days in Vietnam, where he experienced these feelings first-hand. Chas then suffers a brief yet intense attack of rage when he remembers that Blankenship has never been to Vietnam, nor is he old enough to have
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been there. Blankenship’s dream then infects his mind, which brings back traumatizing memories. Chas blames Blankenship for his loss of control, which leads to his relapse. Blankenship threatens his possession of his Vietnam memories. Chas takes it as he has
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Obsession and Control - ENG 243.18 Obsession Control Paige...

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