We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it said by Tennessee Williams. This quote signifies the feeling and the thought process of being trapped as a suppressed community. All I’m Asking for is my Body, and the Great Gatsby are two stories which discuss and show us people that are born into a trapped community and people force others or themselves into a trapped situation. These stories also show how people are trapped their surroundings and setting, such as Hawaii and New York. Also depending of the values and traditions of the family people are born into situations that trap them such as family debt. Finally people deserve the right to be free, and most can be free if they chose to stand up for themselves and fight for what they deserve.
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In All I’m Asking for is my Body the characters are born into a trapped society with almost no escape. This younger group is born on to an island, and forced to pay a debt because of a long tradition. This forced debt is seen as normal by the parents and ancestors, but the younger generation is taking a stand. The characters in the story are broken into two groups. The first group is the older group who are acculturate, and trying to keep the old the traditions. The second group is the younger group who are trying to assimilate, and create a new culture and lose the old traditions. Both groups come together in one suppressed community.
In The Great Gatsby the characters are born into wealth and status far beyond that of a normal individual, but still find themselves trapped by their own personal problems. The society traps other members of society through such issues as class roles and status. An example of status in Gatsby is George Wilson, the mechanic. He is looked down upon and seen as less than by almost the entire cast of characters, because of his job and his heritage. No matter how hard he works he will never be seen as equal, and will continued to be trapped by characters like Nick. Another example for social roles trapping members of society is that Myrtle and Daisy are both trapped in their sexist roles as women placed on them by society and reinforced on them by Tom Buchanan. Neither woman has the strength and integrity to fight for their freedom and create an independent life, nor does traditional society allow this type of thing to occur and discourages such thinking and behavior.
With Hawaii being an island, it is built with no easy escape. The people who immigrated to Hawaii were put to harsh work in the plantation. They made some money, but not enough to pay off their accumulating debt, so for any immigrant to pay for a ride off island was almost out the question. People being born into this society were trapped from the beginning, with almost no way of escaping. Most characters just endure through the troubles, and become comfortable in an oppressed society instead of stand up for themselves.
Even though, The Great Gatsby is set in New York, a city built with the idea of freedom, there are still characters in the story which are trapped. New York is place where anything can happen, and hard work is reward. Also people are free to leave the city if they desire. Even though New York is a place of freedom, people still get trapped by society. This shows that even if one is born in a place of freedom one can still become trapped if they become too comfortable, and stop fighting for their goals.
In All I’m Asking for is my Body, one of the main characters, Tosh, is forced to fulfill his Filial Duty. In the Hawaiian culture there is a philosophy called “Filial Piety” which is the respect for ones parents. Tosh refuses stand by traditions and clashes with his parents when they expect him to fulfill his “Filial Duty” to repay the family’s debt. The eldest son Tosh viewed the filial responsibility as a tradition that would rob him of his youth, strength, and ambition. He continually fought with his mother and father about money, children, and his freedom from their debt. Whenever his parents argued with Tosh, his mother told him they would not depend on him therefore they will depend on Kiyoshi instead. Tosh told Kiyoshi, “Shit, all I asking for is my body. I doan wanna die on the plantation like these other dumb dodos.” (48) When tosh grows up he starts to go along with his parent’s ideal, but to resist being subservient he joins the army to get free, and help his family financial situation. This shows that if one fights hard enough for their freedom, they will find a way out.
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Although in the Great Gatsby, no one is forcefully trapped into a duty, some of the characters set themselves up to be trapped. Daisy is a trapped woman. She’s trapped in a marriage that she is unhappy in and trapped in a world where she has no chance to be free or independent. She is at the mercy of her husband, a man who takes her for granted. George Wilson runs a garage and gas station in the valley of ashes and seems trapped by his position in life. Eventually, he finds out about his wife’s double life and his response to it helps drive her to her death. Distraught at what happens, Wilson becomes Fitzgerald’s way of expressing the despair prevalent in the seemingly trapped lower-middle class.
In All I’m Asking the characters within the story show the theme of being trapped by being born into debt, trapped on an island, forced in communities based on background, and completely limited work opportunities. While in the Great Gatsby even though some are born into money, and in a place built on opportunity and freedom the feeling of being trapped still occurs. “All I kept thinking about, over and over, was ‘You can’t live forever; you can’t live forever.” (Gatsby). This quote shows that life is short and if people are oppressed should fight for their freedom. If one is oppressed, one will continue to be oppressed until one finally decides to take a stand against the oppressors and change the current situation. If they don’t take that stand they will continue to be oppressed because they are not only stuck in life, but they’re way of thinking, and thought process. When they decide to break out of their current mold, fight for their freedom like tosh, they will find a way out while others that find themselves stuck like daisy will remain there until they decide to stand up for themselves.
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