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The Outcast

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Introduction

The Outcast In our lives we are constantly and naturally reaching out to connect with others. We only have a short time here on Earth, and we strive to share it - but everything comes with a price. In Celia Behind Me, the author Isabel Huggan, through a sensitive and blunt retrospective first person narrative, perceptive characterization, extensive use of ironies and compelling images, illustrates the excruciating mischief and distress caused by the psychological and social confinement imposed on us, as we persistently attempt to integrate with the bourgeois, or the majority. The author sets the stage for this consistent mood of horror and distress by employing a retrospective first person narrative. To begin with, the story is told in a rather childish, yet disturbingly blunt and practical manner. As a nine year-old girl, Elizabeth is still too callow and unsophisticated to hide her emotions. More than once, she exposed her naked hatred towards Celia with a tone filled with bitterness and hot wrath: "I thought things over, I hated Celia with a dreadful and absolute passion." ...read more.

Middle

To begin with, the characterization of Elizabeth's parents is incisive and perceptive. Being pressurized under the bourgeois, they are but another group of people attempting to integrate into the clique of the majority. They are not true parents. They did what they did because it was the "right" thing to do: "...they became so soured by their own shame that they slapped my stinging buttocks for personal revenge as much as for any rehabilitative purposes. 'I'll never be able to lift my head on this street again.'" Throughout the entire story, Elizabeth's parents never offered her any sympathy or understanding. All they craved is their images - so that they could lift their heads on the street. Hiding behind their simple motives is again the compelling fear and distress of being an outcast. Irony is also extensively and effectively used throughout the story. As people in the story attempt to find a sense of belonging, as they fight fiercely and ferociously for their place in the society, love and understanding is seldom offered. ...read more.

Conclusion

As it turns out, the entire story is one giant comic irony, telling the readers the inevitable gap between love and reality, and the idea that one can never escape from the social confinements around him. Lastly, Huggan enhanced this message with strong and menacing images which emotionally triggers response within the readers, "Wild, appreciative laughter from the chocolate-tongued mob, and they turned their backs on us... They had to take off their mitts and lick their fingers to pick up the last fragments from the foil." This compelling image ultimately displays the fact that almost everyone in the society achieves acceptance, or in this case, "respect", through victimizing others. Along with victimization comes grievance and sorrow, comes horror and fear, and comes distress and harm. Through a sensitive and blunt retrospective first person narrative, perceptive characterization, extensive use of ironies and compelling images, Isabelle Huggan has successful engaged us to look at a different side of the story, to look at the excruciating mischief caused by the social and psychological confinements around us as we incessantly strive to integrate and achieve a sense of belonging. ...read more.

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