Moreover, the homophobia in the society introduces conflict within the family and leads the narrator to lose his identity and become modified into an individual that society approves of. He holds society responsible for the disintegration of this family. The story is told by a narrator whose name we never find out. Tortes does this in order to emotionally detach the readers from the character and instead, direct their focus towards the larger message that the story conveys.
Tortes uses narrative and structure in the chapter, The Night I am Made, in order to emphasize the inflict and isolation felt by the narrator because of society expectations of him. The chapter, The Night I am Made, is integral to the plot of the book because it deals with the actual problem in the narrators life. Until this point, the readers are given the sense that the family loves each other and will go to the ends of the Earth for each other. By the end of the chapter, the family is torn apart, leaving the readers to blame society for the way it influences relationships.
Tortes starts the chapter talking about the boys growing up. He Uses “They” in this chapter, as opposed to the “We” that was used in the revises chapters. This change is pronoun use signals the beginning of the isolation felt by the narrator. The narrator goes on to describe his brothers and how degenerate they have and will become. He is directly talking to his ‘Pas’ and expresses his disapproval at the way that his brothers are turning out. The narrator is different from his brothers since he works hard at school and is not rough like them.
On page 104, he refers to the Puerco Ricans as ‘having language’. Tortes proposes the concept of inherited language as being similar to inherited identity. The brothers behave the way that the father goes; they react with violence and not words. The Puerco Ricans had language because it was passed down from their ancestors, like the violence and the physical abuse was passed down from Pas to his sons. However, the narrator does not seem to be one of recipients of this gift and therefore, he feels further isolated.
The following quote solidifies this idea of isolation and the contrast that the narrator feels when compared to his brothers. “And me now. Look at me. See me there with them, in the snow – both inside and outside their understanding. See how I made them uneasy. They smelled my preference -? my sharp, sad, pansy scent. They believed I would know a world larger than their own. They hated me for my good grades, for my white ways. ” The above quote refers to the narrator as having “white ways” and therefore, not being Puerco Rican enough.
By the means of this paragraph, Tortes sets the narrator apart from his family and forces him to feel different. Tortes intentionally does not introduce or describe any characters apart from the five family members, because at the end of the book, when the narrator becomes isolated from his family, the readers are left with a sense that he rule does not have anyone in his life to love him and take care of him. Also, the last line of the chapter refers to their last night together, signifying that a big change sites to come.
The rest of the chapter is divided into smaller sub- chapters, namely Midnight, Late Night, Deep Night and Dawn. In Midnight, the readers see the first time there is real conflict that divides the brothers. Tortes switches between using ‘We’ and ‘They’ to show that the narrator is struggling between maintaining his identity as part of his family and creating one for himself. The narrator turns on his brothers, verbally abusing them. Up until this point in the story, he is the brother that is least violent; by screaming at his brothers, he is using their means to separate himself.
Tortes intentionally makes him violent but not in a physical manner, which means that his brothers can still overpower him. The following quote indicates the real violence that the narrator had kept hidden throughout the years. “l kept a journal – in it, sharpened insults against all of them, my folks, my brothers. I turned new eyes to them, a newly caustic gaze. ” These words by the narrator infirm his violent nature and are a testament to his upbringing. He is just as violent as his brothers, but only in a different way.
This difference is what makes him isolated from them. In this way, he is the same brother that grew up with the family but his sexual desires succeed in ostracize him from them. On page 1 10, the narrator describes the way his brothers held him when they were trying to beat him up. The scene is written as though it was brotherly and loving. “[T]hey didn’t want to let me go. ” They were holding him in order to hurt him but the narrators desire to feel like he was part of the Emily causes him to view this scene as one that speaks about brotherly love.
The narrator had previously claimed that his brothers would bleed for him; Tortes is now proving him wrong by turning them on him. Tortes ends Midnight by saying that there was no other boy like the narrator, solidifying his isolation from his brothers as well as the loneliness he feels. The next chapter, Late Night, describes one of the sexual encounters that the narrator has. Tortes does not confirm whether this happened within the plot or is one of the sexual fantasies from the narrator’s journal.
Either way, the sexual elation’s that the boy has with the bus driver bring him immense pleasure and result in his sexual awakening. “The cold gathered in the tips of those fingers, so every. Veer he touched me was a dull stab of This quote suggests that the bus driver was helping him understand his own sexual nature. While this was surprising to him, it helped to make sense Of his sexual desires. The quote “My brothers will lose themselves tonight; they’ll search for me in the whiteness; they’ll drown” shows that he is alone, which does not happen throughout the book.
Tortes always portrays the narrator as being tit his brothers or his family but this time, he is alone and learning about himself. By stating this, the narrator once again distinguishes himself from his brothers because he has gone to a place that they cannot access. Personally, I believe that this scene is part of the narrators journal because it is where he can be true to his identity and not worry about his brothers showing up. Instead, he is comfortable exposing himself to a stranger in the hopes of learning more about himself. The chapter closes with the narrator yelling that the bus driver made him.
By the use of this line, Tortes suggests that the sexual encounter influenced the way that the narrator created an identity for himself. The following chapter, Deep Night, sees the narrators family finding the journal that contains explicit sexual fantasies and sharp insults against his own parents. The story’ in this section begins with the following quote. “Everything easy between me and my brothers and my mother and my father was lost”. This quote suggests that a homophobic society has resulted in his family looking at him in a different light.
He is no longer their son or brother, and the simple functionality of the family dynamic is now lost to him. Even as the narrator knew that everything was falling apart because his parents and brothers had read his journal, he looks at his mother and says “I’ll kill you”. Tortes intentionally highlights the violent nature of the narrator in order to emphasize that he is conflicted between loving and hating his family for what they are putting him through. Since the violence is what holds then together, the narrator attempts one last time to find common ground between them by acting out.
His father wants to reciprocate but his brothers pull him down and thereby, isolating him from their familial unit. [S]meow, at the same time, that they were keeping him back, they were supporting him”. The narrators family, in this case, not only exhibits non-violent behavior but also act as support systems to help each other get through this situation. The fact the Tortes places the narrator outside of this family and without any support makes his isolation more explicit. Towards the end of the chapter, the narrator becomes an animal in order to try and connect with his family.
He resorts back to violence, which was a constant throughout his entire childhood. However, as he becomes more and more violent, the parents and rooters “retreat into their love for” the narrator. They oppose the approach that the narrator was taking, which means the narrator is left alone and without any means by which he can communicate with his family. On page 1 17, the narrator says the journal might have been a way of coming-out for him, so that he could be found and he could stop hiding. The only way that this would happen would be if everything was out in the open.
This did not work in favor of the narrator’s wishes and only ended up creating conflict between the narrator and his family members. The narrative in this chapter ascribes the hospital the boy will be sent to with words such as neutered, which refers to the sexless identity that the society and his family want him to have. Also, Tortes uses the phrase “still burning a youth glow’ in order to highlight the fact that the narrator is a young boy who has a lot more to accomplish in life and yet, the homophobia in the society makes it so that the will spend the rest of his days in the hospital.
The final section, Dawn, narrates the preparation for the narrator to go to the hospital in third person. The narrator is no longer talking, and therefore, Tortes is suggesting that his ice is subdued; this is similar to the way in which is identity is being suppressed by his family. Also, Tortes refers to the characters as ‘a father’, ‘his son’ etc. He does this in order to show that society has reduced these characters and their strong, familial bonds to a generic relationship. They no longer have any history or uniqueness attached to their relationships.
Instead, they are represented as a regular, loving family. By hiding their violence and past, Tortes creates a new, reductive identity for the family. While the father gives his son (the narrator) a bath, he pretends like it is a outing task. Tortes does this in order to show the readers that the father is forced to pretend to be normal and happy because it is what society expects Of him. He is not allowed to show his real emotions in the wake Of his son coming out. The father unscrews a bulb in the bathroom, claiming that it has always been too bright in there.
Tortes is suggesting that the father would prefer to do this in darkness, therefore, not being able to see his son properly. Also, this shows that the father is keen on hiding away in the darkness and doesn’t want to embrace his son. This isolates the boy and rates conflict in their relationship. As the father gives his son a bath against his will, he says, “Yeah, you got rights. What you don’t got is power”. This serves as analogy for the greater society having power over the individual even though they have rights to be themselves.
Tortes is suggesting that in this case, the society is winning the battle against the individual because of homophobia. In addition to this, the act of giving a bath renders the narrator naked and vulnerable. The father is giving his son a bath and exposing his weakest spots. Later, he goes on to dress the boy and thereby, essentially retreating a new identity for the narrator. This new identity fulfills social expectations and re-creates the sense of self that the individual has. By cleaning and dressing the boy, the father ensures that all the natural elements about the narrators personality are removed.
The bath can be seen as a form of cleansing, where the removal of dirt equals removal of character. Later on, the clipping of toenails can also be seen as the removal of unwanted parts. On page 121 , the father looks at the boy as if he was looking at a “deep cut or a too-bright morning’. These are two sore images that will most likely cake one squint and therefore, miss the actual sight. In this case, Tortes includes these images within the narrative to emphasize that the homophobic society clouds the father’s vision so that he can no longer fully appreciate his son.
The following quote describes the Isolation felt by the narrator when he hears his mother refer to his brothers as ‘the boys’, excluding him from the pack. “[H]owe quickly and fully the son in the tub is excluded from that designation; how badly the boy wishes to be out there with his brothers doing as he is told”. The quote states that the narrator wants to return a more useful time when it was possible to run around with his brothers and be referred to by his mother as normal. This loss of family isolates the narrator and creates conflict within him.
The closing scene is of the brothers swiveling snow. Snow is a natural occurrence that is controlled by human beings by activities such as swiveling. In the course of the narrative, the brothers, along with their parents, are attempting to control and remove what is natural about the narrator. Therefore, the swiveling represents manipulating the natural in order to overcome it and is directly related to what the family is owing to change the narrator’s identity. They are doing this to the extent that they are preparing for his stay at the psych ward.
Also, the fact that the brothers are swiveling snow while the narrator is inside is indicative of his isolation from the rest of the family, especially his brothers. The titles of the sub-chapters refer to times during the night, and the last one refers to dawn. Since nighttime is associated with darkness and hiding, Tortes uses Midnight, Late Night and Deep Night in order to describe the narrators true violent and sexual nature. These sub-chapters deal with the reality of the narrators situation.
Tortes makes it so that the last sub-chapter, Dawn, involves the process of eliminating the identity of the narrator in order to create a new one for him, one that is more socially acceptable. Since Dawn refers to the time of day when daylight is starting to peek in, Tortes is suggesting that the work of the society is almost done because it was successful is re-constructing a new self for the narrator. This is the self that will be used to go outside in the light and not be hidden away. At the heart of this novel is a story about a title boy growing up and unsuccessfully attempting to find his place in the world.
This ensures that the mainstream, heterosexual audience is able to relate to the story as well. As for the LIGHT community, the novel portrays different ways in which the society can affect the individual and their families. It also acknowledges the loss of identity for a LIGHT person due to the pressure vitrifying to be someone else. The overarching message is that growing up is a hard thing to do. The society which envelops this plot line is extremely homophobic and has caused the family to look at the narrator in a efferent light.
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