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A Commentary on Idols by Tim Gautreaux

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Introduction

A Commentary on 'Idols' by Tim Gautreaux 'Idols' is centered upon the protagonist's amoral attitude towards life, which in turn causes him to experience loneliness as well as being unable to maintain the dream of living in his great-grandfather's mansion. Gautreaux chooses Julian, the protagonist, to be an arrogant and envious character to demonstrate the sorrowful lifestyle as a result of unreasonably wanting too much and the act of being spiteful to others who are good-willed. His arrogance proves he is living in a fantasy because he only feels superior as a result of his "good fortune" but he is not appreciative of this fortune because he believes he will be with it forever - he lacks a sense of reality. Also, Julian's self-superiority makes him inferior to others because he holds only a minimal amount of consideration and respect in himself. This is how Gautreaux explores the theme of worthiness in his story as he makes us question who is to decide somebody's worth. Gautreaux portrays Julian's character to be a man of great arrogance. An exaggerated sense of self-importance is suggested as the protagonist "considered himself at least wealthy in knowledge, more so than the shopkeepers and record clerks he dealt with". ...read more.

Middle

He completely ignores sensibility and lets his desires take over him. He does not pay attention to others around him, even when they are trying to warn him of his own downfall. Julian's character is similar to that of protagonists in traditional Greek theatre: a flaw in the character that leads to his downfall. At the beginning of the story, Julian confuses Chance Poxley's sense of humor for brainlessness and "turned to walk out" because he had little patience with uneducated people. This proves that Julian is too concerned with himself to try to associate himself with or understand others. Julian's self-superiority is simply illustrated from this, which almost makes him seem like a laughingstock as he is living in a complete dream world. Also, when Julian attempts to fix the mansion but later watches it fail, it indicates that his ignorance leads him to descent into some sort of psychosis - he seems to have a distorted perception of reality as he strives to convince himself and Obie that he'll never leave the house "in a million years" even after a house-shaking crash. The character's determination to make a statement in life through ownership of the "the only grand thing in his family's history" is reinforced as he yells into the receiver in response to the idea that it "might be time to sell out". ...read more.

Conclusion

Whilst Obie makes this remark, he is looking 'out the door toward the big house'. The big house, on the other hand, is Julian's object of worship. Looking out the door symbolizes looking past the surface to find a deeper meaning in something. 'Deep in his heart' Julian had stored the memory of the old mansion which proves that the house is what he greatly admires and is to an extent his representation of a god. It is 'the only grand thing' and together with its Doric pillars, Julian somehow feels like a god living in it. Contradictory to Obie, Julian associates a god like figure - an idol - to his mansion, a materialistic want, which demonstrates the difference between values each character possesses. Obie seems to have found a new idol other than his tattoo whereas Julian, an old man who has experienced all of life, is still caught up in materialism and considers material possessions more important than spiritual values. This is further emphasized as Obie removes his idols with his own free will in order to "move on down the road" but Julian refuses to give up the mansion so looses it unwillingly from a fire which suggests both of their fate. ...read more.

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