I recently watched the movie Click with Adam Sandler, and it got me thinking about the time travel element used in the movie. In this movie, the main character is an overworked architect named Michael Newman, played by Sandler, that goes to Bed Bath and Beyond to purchase a universal remote for his home electronic system. While in the store, he enters the “Beyond” section and meets an employee/inventor there in the back room who bestows him with a very different kind of universal remote. After fiddling with this remote, he realizes that he can control almost all aspects of his life with it. He can fast forward when his boss is talking to him, press mute when the family dog is barking, and completely skip through an argument with his wife. He is also able to use the remote to travel back and forth from different times in the day as well as events in his life. The concept seems very appealing at first. I mean, who wouldn’t want to fast forward a meeting with their annoying and boss? And who would pass up the opportunity to hit “pause” and slap the arrogant jerk in the face? Though the idea seems completely brilliant, the main character quickly learns that this device isn’t the amazing invention he was hoping for.
When I first picked up The Yiddish Policeman’s Union to begin reading, I really had no idea what to expect. After discovering that the story was focusing on a hypothetical Jewish settlement, I decided to do a little research on the author, Michael Chabon.
I found out that Chabon lived in and went to college in Pittsburgh. I live in Pittsburgh, so naturally this made me very excited to learn more about him. He went to Carnegie Mellon and then transferred to finish his undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh. His interest in the Jewish culture makes a lot of sense if you understand the area. Pittsburgh has a large Jewish population, especially in the area of the city called Squirrel Hill, which is very close to the university. I have been to the Jewish community center there many times where they give swing dancing lessons on Saturday nights (kind of lame..oh well). There is a lot of history in this area and I’m sure it must have enhanced his interest in their culture.
He also wrote a bestseller called The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, a story focusing on the main character who is a bi-sexual. This, and the novel we are reading, illustrate the idea that Chabon seems to root for the underdog. He says over and over in the story that these are strange times for Jews. This shows his interest in the struggle to find Jewish identity and self identity in general. I am definitely going to try to find time to read this other novel as well, it seems to be highly recommended!
Through the story, I have really started thinking about the many horrors that women slaves in particular were faced with. Not only were they black and slaves, but being a woman in this time automatically made them more vulnerable and unable to escape terror. These women were not only expected to perform their duties through their physical labor on the plantation, they were also expected to be sexual slaves at their master’s beck and call. Although male slaves faced many hardships, women were the true all-around slaves in my opinion. Even after Alice had previously been raped by Rufus, she decides to willingly have sex with him when he requests in fear of him doing something even more terrible to her. It is so sad to think about doing something as demeaning as sex and having it be the only thing that can keep you alive. Sadly, slavery did not end in our country.
This past week, our campus was promoting Freedom Week. The week was dedicated to raising awareness of the realities of the sex slave trade in our world today. It’s unbelievable to think that in a first world country with as many freedoms as we have that terrible things like this still occur every day, not only in the United States but worldwide. This is an interesting video that puts modern day sex trafficking into perspective.
Many comparisons can be drawn between slaves in the 19th century and those in today’s world. The sex slave trade is run by greedy, evil people who will do anything to make a profit, just as it was in the antebellum south. Like Alice, these women and children are completely trapped. They are stripped of their identity, beliefs, and are left feeling weak and completely worthless. As a woman, I can’t imagine being forced to do ANYTHING, especially sex, in order to survive. It breaks my heart to imagine that people are living in constant fear of anything, let alone something this horrific.
After reading Slaughterhouse Five, I was baffled by the main character Billy Pilgrim. He exhibits no typical character traits of a protagonist. He’s not particularly brave, strong-willed, or charismatic. Honestly, he’s only Billy.
Billy Pilgrim has one of the kindest and mildest natures of any character I have come across in a novel. He is so pliant and polite to everyone he encounters. The best way to sum up his personality is one of innocence. Billy never appears to really grow up and always acts with such child-like faith in mankind. In the book, Billy’s father-in-law recommends he go by the name Billy even in his practice because it contributes to an illusion of innocence that people can trust. Only with Billy, nothing about that is an illusion. He is as true and pure as he outwardly appears to be.
I think personally that Billy’s last name contributes to his life as a nomad through time. He is constantly “pilgrimming” through his own life, and even through the universe. The definition of a pilgrim is one who is traveling to a holy place. I feel that is what Billy was always after. To find truth and acceptance where “everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.”
And finally, I looked up the actual meaning of the name “Billy” and, first of all it’s German, and second it means “will helmet, or protection.” Billy doesn’t come to exhibit any of these characteristics until the very end when he has his following of people and is constantly wanting to protect and watch out for their needs, right up until his own death.
As silly as it may sound, I have found many similarities between this episode of Spongebob Squarepants and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. The version of the episode I am posting is one that has been speed up to briefly summarize what happens.
One immediate connection I made with this episode is that Squidward reminded me of Rip Van Winkle. The narrator says “two thousan yeas layta” (in French accent), and Squidward is frozen in time. When futuristic Spongebob defrosts him, he finds himself in the same familiar place, yet everything is so different. This reminded me of when Rip Van Winkle wakes up to find himself in his town which appears almost the same, but everything has changed. Another connection I found occurs when Squidward gets in the time machine and goes to the past. He meets the caveman version of Spongebob and Patrick, and learns how uncivilized and unintelligent they are. This made me think of when the Time Traveler meets the Eloi, even though he had traveled to the future in the story, because he finds them very simple minded and naive. When Squidward upsets the caveman versions of his friends, they try to attack him which made me think of the Morlocks in the story.
Then when Squidward breaks the lever on the time machine, it reminded me of when the Time Traveler did the same thing. Finally, Squidward goes so far into the future that he is totally “alone”…and is constantly being reminded of it. This paralleled the deserted beach that the Time Traveler ends up at when he travels to the future to find that he is the only living organism.
May seem like a goofy thing to compare literature to, but I’m a Spongebob fanatic..and I hope this gives someone a good laugh 🙂