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Tricksters, an Escape From Reality

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Chang Isaac Chang Professor Palmore English 1B 07 August 2012 Tricksters, an Escape From Reality Trickster tales, a significant part of most cultures, have permeated the legends and folklore of people since the early days of civilized man. Tricksters can be very humorous, extremely deceitful, and cultural heroes as they reveal a reader?s sub consciousness and moral biases. People catch glimmers of the trickster in characters such as the Native American Indian coyote, O?Brien from the novel 1984, the slave Grandison from ?The Passing of Grandison?, and stone butch lesbian Jess Goldberg of Stone Butch Blues. These diverse tricksters found within cultures often have many commonalities with each other, and then, often they do not. But this illustrates the very nature of the trickster; ever changing, shape shifting his or her way into the lives of people. Despite a trickster?s flaws, they often represent the introduction of good things to society. A trickster might bring to a culture, whether wittingly or unwittingly; important knowledge, food, and other good things, often in spite of his/her intentions. Trickster characters appear in the narratives of many Native people throughout North America. ?Coyote Outwits Duck? is an Ojibwa Legend, a traditional story of the trickster Coyote. Coyote was walking along a lake and saw a flock of ducks, which put him in the mood for a good duck dinner. So he stuffed a bag full of grass and walked past the ducks, stepping lively and singing a catchy tune. ...read more.


I know all about your contempt, your hatred, your disgust. But don?t worry I am on your side! And then the flask of intelligence was gone, and O?Brien?s face was as inscrutable as everyone else?s.? (Orwell 113) O?Brien passes as an ally and pretends to be sharing the same rebellious thoughts towards Big Brother as Winston. However, as the novel progresses, O?Brien reveals himself as a member of the party and arrests Winston for rebellion and not conforming to the social paradigm of Oceania. Another example of a passing trickster is Grandison from the short story ?The Passing of Grandison? by Charles Chesnutt. This story is centered on Mars Dick, the son of a wealthy Colonel who owns many slaves. Mars is trying to win over his lady friend, so he attempts to impresses her by forcing one of his father's prized slaves to freedom. The slave Grandison acts very loyal and pretends that he is content with his master and life. When Mars tries to have Grandison run away to Canada, he does everything to stay. Eventually Mars just leaves Grandison and makes up a story to his furious father that Grandison had escaped however, a few days later, Grandison returns with a far- fetched story as to what happened to him. That he was starved and beaten and had escaped death by the skin of his teeth. Grandison was rewarded for his bravery while all along, he was tricking both Mars Dick and the Colonel into thinking he really is a loyal slave. ...read more.


Our sub consciousness begins to relate ourselves to Jess as we sympathize with her and try to understand the conflict she is facing. People begin to ponder if it is worth risking survival, to justify sexual orientation. Readers ask themselves if they would have the same courage as Jess, to stand up against authority only to get belittled, because it is the right thing to do. By rising up and challenging authority, Jess becomes a cultural hero, a stone butch lesbian who does not fear change and the world around her. Tricksters are very mysterious; deviating from the common social paradigm. They have come in a variety of shapes and styles, from the Native American Coyote to the post-modern lesbian trickster Jess Goldberg. Tricksters evoke certain empathies within the reader, questioning certain moralities and norms. There are a variety of characters that bring into question the reader?s sense of normalcy and morality, often questioning a person?s subconscious prejudices along the way. Although a trickster's actions and personality may seem ridiculous or extreme, they serve an important purpose in traditional and contemporary narratives. Tricksters may work as a kind of an outlet for strong emotions or actions in which humans cannot indulge. These actions are at the margins of social morality and normal behavior, so humans can express and feel things through the trickster that would be unsafe to express or experience outside of stories. In this sense tricksters become a way people pass, they become an ?escape valve? for society. ...read more.

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