I chose to write my story based on two of the main features of the book The Collector by John Fowles The writing style (the diary-type entries) and the idea of isolation and separation from society.
(Morning) I’ve become aware that I don’t remember much of the outside world. The colour of the grass is called green but I cant put the colour to the name. The feeling of a soft breeze on my face, forgotten. The sound of the children in a playground, the smell of the sweetest flowers, forgotten. What a waste. My own doing I suppose. I only had myself to blame. I’m surprised I could still remember my own name. I should be on the brink of madness. I want to be. But nothing ever goes my way does it. I’ve been waiting out the days, ticking them off, hoping someone will finally understand me but they never will. Nobody misses me and no one wants me. I have no friends, and the only family I have left are the ones that think I’m mental and everyone else is too preoccupied with their own lives to notice I’m still alive. It’s understandable though. I wouldn’t miss me. That’s why I started this. I realised I’m nothing in this universe, just one small flea on the back of an elephant. Unimportant. I don’t have a destiny, never found true love, haven’t had a steady job in years and I know now that I’m the reason the word ‘failure’ is in existence.
There was a time where I wasn’t scared of anything, when I had a bunch of friends who hung on my every word but then there was the time I could be surrounded by a sea of people and still feel all alone. The sea made me feel tiny, almost like I was invisible because no one could share my view of the world. They were locked away, safe inside my head until the right person could pick them out one by one, but that never happened.
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(Afternoon) These four walls are proving to be my only source of comfort. Away from the rest of the world. I’m safe. Just me, a pen, some paper and a bed. Not much I grant you but enough to know that ‘necessities’ aren’t needed. I don’t want what they keep offering me. I don’t want your books, I say. But you have to do something! They say.
Sometimes this place is like my own personal hell hole, but other, It’s my idea of heaven. They try and make me do what they want. Lets go for a walk, they say. I don’t want to leave! I say. They don’t realise how dangerous the outside world is. I don’t care about hearing, seeing and smelling new things! I put myself in here, no matter how hard they try and convince me I’m ill, I did this to myself! I’m not mental like they say! I’m not! The truth is, I don’t remember how I got in here in the first place. Theres a lot of gaps in my life that are just…black…They try and force it out of me. They tell me I’ve done horrible things, unforgivable things so I was brought in here. I don’t listen. They’re wrong, I’ve been good my whole life. I put myself in here! No one forced me like they say, I chose this life away from the danger and the people that couldn’t be trusted. My choice. My choice.
‘Sunnyside Mental Care’ they call it, like it’s a ‘special’ place for people who are crazy. They think they’ve locked me up for my own good. I’m not mental, I promise. I may forget things and refuse to talk or trust people but I’m not mental. It’s not that I don’t like people, some of them in other white boxes seem nice enough. They’re in the same situation as me, understand what I’m going through, it’s the other people I don’t like. Their patronising grimaces and their condescending tone like I’m 5 years old. They aren’t to be trusted. None of them. And none of them will ever understand the trouble I went through to get here and my reasoning behind it. I will never say anything to anyone.
Analysis of “Denial.”
I chose to write my story based on two of the main features of the book ‘The Collector’ by John Fowles – The writing style (the diary-type entries) and the idea of isolation and separation from society.
For my short dystopian story I have chosen to write about a slightly deranged individual in a mental institute having lived for weeks, maybe months in there, not really realising why. I wanted to create a character with multiple layers of personality for example, towards the beginning of the Denial I found that the character should be serene and unruffled, calmly explaining some of the feelings they’re experiencing. As the story goes on the character becomes more and more stressed about the facilities and the people that work in the institute referring to the staff and them and they showing that the individual is clearly untrustworthy and cautious. Using the pronoun they shows the reader that even though the character has had to see these people everyday for weeks, maybe more, they are still anxious about how to socialise with them. The pronoun makes the staff seem almost inhuman making the story more tense as if the staff were making the individuals life a misery.
I wanted to keep a mysterious side to the story regarding the narrator, hence why there is very little description of them, not even a name or gender. To find out more, the reader has to piece together little details the character drops about their background. I hoped for the story to result in the reader to feel pity for the character but I’m uncertain whether I achieved in doing so as reading back on it, I feel more inclined to call the patient ‘mental.’ However, everyone has different opinions and I’m certain the story will create different emotions for different people. This was inspired by Fowles who I feel tries to get the reader to focus on why the main character, Frederick Clegg, thinks the way he does and acts how he does. In ‘Denial’ my aim was to provoke questions such as ‘why is this person in this institution?’ and ‘what could they have done to get themselves in that state of mind?’
Throughout ‘The Collector’ Miranda (the woman Clegg kidnaps) feels isolated and separated from society, not only physically, but also emotionally. She doesn’t relate to Clegg in the slightest through the beginning of the story. I used this inspiration to form the basis of my story to show the reader what the narrator is truly feeling. The diary entries Fowles writes from Miranda and Clegg make the overall story much more personal so the reader can be sympathetic, have pity or emphasize with the character. I used this aspect in my story as I feel it connects much more to the reader. The reader can truly see what the narrator is feeling and what is going through their head. It also comes across as a means of escape for both the characters in ‘The Collector’ and in my short story ‘Denial’ as they spill out their emotions onto the piece of paper.
There are a few differences from Fowles’ novel and my short story however. For one, my story line is fairly unlike the one in ‘The Collector’ even though I used some of the same aspects. I wanted to use the themes of isolation and separation but with a different point of view so I chose to use the view of someone who feels they are isolated by choice, whereas, in fact this is false. In ‘The Collector’ Miranda is forced into separation with no choice in the matter, slowly going insane. Miranda is seen as a vulnerable character as she cannot defend herself particularly well and has no means of escape from Clegg’s imprisonment. The narrator in my story is of similar vulnerability as they do not realize why they are in the institute, fairly unaware of their surroundings and no able to communicate with the other people there, not because he/she isn’t allowed to but because the narrator feels other people cannot be trusted.
Because I only created a short extract of a story from one day in the life of this narrator I am portraying I was unable to develop many of the writing styles I took from Fowles further. If I were to continue this extract I maybe would have delved deeper into the narrators mind of how they came to be in the unit and more of their background as Fowles delved into the mind of Clegg and explained to the reader how he came across Miranda and what attracted him to her. I would also have liked to experiment with the writing technique of the diary entries. I feel that entries can be made in any form needed e.g. poems, letter form, formal, as if writing to a friend, a lover etc. it would have been interesting to see a variety of entries in the story if I were to continue.