extended response to Paul Auster's Oracle Night

extended response to Paul Auster's Oracle Night - Murphy...

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Murphy Kayla Murphy December 6, 2011 English 4000 10:10 Dr. Anderson/Brown-Spiers Assignment 9 The poles of awareness displayed in Paul Auster’s novel Oracle Night are particularly prominent in Sidney’s struggle to recover from his illness and achieve a respectable amount of control in his daily life. Sidney has lost physical control of his body and has emotional satisfaction in his relationship with his wife, Grace. Sidney’s turmoil is reflected on a physical level in his treatment of Nick Bowen and on an internal level when the psychological underpinnings of Bowen’s character are assessed: “Bowen is on the plane, flying through the dark toward Kansas City….a sense of growing calm, a serene blankness within. Bowen doesn’t question what he is doing. He has no regrets, doesn’t rethink his decision to leave town and abandon his job, feels not the slightest pang of remorse about walking out on Eva. He knows how hard it will be on her, but he manages to persuade himself that she’ll be better off without him in the end, that once she recovers from the shock of his disappearance, it will be possible to begin a new, more satisfying life. Hardly an admirable or sympathetic position, but Bowen is in the grip of an idea, and that idea is so large, so much bigger than his own paltry wants and obligations, that he feels he has no choice but to obey it….”(58).
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Murphy Nick Bowen has just abandoned his entire life and made a firm commitment not to turn back. That decision is startling enough to grasp the reader’s attention and sense of wonderment. Sidney has created a character who acts out exactly what a great number of people fear. The total abandonment of the familiar is frightening, intriguing and ultimately the truest form of freedom. That sense of freedom is what ensares the reader’s mind. Bowen’s newly seized freedom is all the more shocking when juxtaposed with Sidney’s illness. Sidney is a slave to his ailments, a veritable prisoner in his own body: “I felt exceedingly vulnerable, as though the very air were a threat…” (182). Placing Bowen’s strength next to Sidney’s weakness creates an unpleasant tension for the reader. Sidney is all the more pathetic and helpless in light of Bowen’s strength of will. Given the emotions that Bowen’s fantastic decision has stirred in the readers, the introductory image of him aboard a vast, anonymous jet on his merry way to a vast, anonymous city is entirely overwhelming. Anyone who has ever traveled alone is aware of the mystique surrounding a solo journey. No one knows who you are, where you are from or where you are
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