The Disaster That Rebuilt

In the play By The Water by Sharyn Rothstein Hurricane Sandy does major damage to Staten Island, the area in which the characters in the play lived. The question I pose is, even though the storm ruined the homes and merely all the property of the families of the Murphy’s and the Carter’s, did it also help rebuild the relationships of the families?

Sal, a very successful and wealthy man who is married and living in the city, had distanced himself from his family over time. However, after the storm, Sal went to go visit his family and offer his support. He developed a history of qualms with his brother in the past, but we see the brothers work out their difficulties. After three years without talking to each other, they are forced to deal with their struggling relationship. On page 52 Brian says to Sal, “You know I never really thank you, for what you did. Mostly ’cause I fucking hated you, so a thank-you never really felt appropriate, but… (Sal nods, takes it in. They sit in a moment of silence.)” Because the storm provided a setting for the brothers to reunite, they were able to squash their hate. The love that Brian and Emily had for each other in high school is rejuvenated. On page 42 Rothstein writes, “(He pulls her close to him. Emily takes a deep breath.) My mother’s gonna kill me. (Brian smiles. He kisses her.)” Would they have re-found this love for each other without a storm? A third relationship strengthened through these troublesome times is the relationship between Marty and Mary. When debating whether the couple should stay where they are or move, Mary finally stands up to Marty and asserts her opinion and says, “You’re gonna do it, or you can stay here in this, this nothing, all by yourself. ‘Cause I’m leaving. I will leave you… Hearts are broken all over the place. What’s one more?” Mary standing up to Marty cause him to come to the realization that he’s been tunnel visioned to his own agenda. He then treats Mary with an equal level of respect and her voice is heard.

All these relationships would never had been strengthened if a storm hadn’t come. As it says on the back cover of the play, “BY THE WATER reminds us that the very powers that tear us apart can also bring us together.”


The Wings of Fate

In the film Cast Away, Chuck Noland embarks on a unique journey in which his plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean and he washes up upon the shore of an island. Here, he finds packages washed ashore. He opens all except one and by the end of the movie he returns it to it’s original destination. My question is, what is the symbolism of the package and how does the director Robert Zemeckis tie this symbolism into other themes of the movie?

After surviving 4 years on the island, Chuck never opened the last package with a drawing of orange fluorescent wings on the front. This package was a sign of hope and resembled his own personal determination to survive. Flashback to the beginning of the movie, we see a Texas ranch with a sign that has the wings on it as well as “Dick Bettina.” This is where the package originally came from. I also believe Zemeckis used wings as the symbol on the package because wings represent transportation from place to place, as well as guardian angels. This package, although just a box with it’s contents never revealed, becomes a major pinnacle in Chuck’s survival. As seen when he is dropping off the package, he writes, “This package saved my life. Thank you. Chuck Noland” (2:13:38-2:13:48).

At the end of the film, Chuck ends up at the same crossroads where the movie began. However, now the name “Dick” has been removed from the arch at the front of the ranch. This represents the failure in the marriage between Bettina and Dick. It is at the same time Chuck has found out that his ex-fiancé, who thought he was dead, is now married with a child. Chuck meets Bettina coincidentally at the crossroads and as she’s driving away he notices the orange wings on the back of her truck. We as viewers are left to believe that these “wings” guided his fate throughout the movie, and now he is left with a decision, to follow the wings once more, or take another path.

Is there such a thing as normal?

In the short story My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears, Mohja Khaf describes the process of a Muslim woman preparing herself for the prayer wudu, which she prays five times a day, in the bathroom of a Sears retail store. As the story progresses, we see Americans in the store are angered that she is putting her feet in the sink of the bathroom as a means of cleansing them. My question is this, what is the true, fundamental reason the Americans become so irritated with the grandmothers actions? Khaf writes, “a contamination of American Standards by something foreign and unhygienic” (Khaf, 1). Although it may seem gross to put your feet in a pubic bathroom sink, is it truly unhygienic? Is it any different than putting your hands that have touched the germs of hundreds of surfaces within a given day in the sink? Not to mention the grandmother also stated,”We wash our feet five times a day, my grandmother declares hotly in Arabic. My feet are cleaner than their sink. Worried about their sink, are they? I should worry about my feet!” (Khaf, 2). It is also safe to assume the Americans in the store rattled by this aren’t even going to touch the sink, use the sink, or even let alone, use the bathroom at all. No, the Americans are infuriated purely because a woman of foreign decent is practicing a religion not of their own in a place where they are. Although I don’t believe we can presume these Americans as racists or Muslim haters, we can say that they don’t view these actions as “normal” and therefore they are made uncomfortable by them. However, to the Arabic grandma she is doing nothing wrong and her actions are normal to her. After all, she prayers like this five times a day everyday. This leads me to my final statement that what is normal to one person, may not be normal to the other. Especially in a day and age were globalization and cultural diversity is bigger than ever, we must be more open to change and respect others perspectives.

An Inherent Human Flaw

For the past two-hundred thousand years, mankind has roamed the Earth doing their best to impose their power over other species. They believe themselves to be invincible to inferiority. As seen in, “The Horror at Martin’s Beach”, by H. P. Lovecraft and Sonia H. Greene, the captain and his sailors decide to kill a being of life for the simple reason of profit. The 4th paragraph reads, “On May 17 the crew…killed, after a battle of nearly forty hours, a marine monster whose size and aspect produced the greatest possible stir in scientific circles and caused certain Boston naturalists to take every precaution for its taxidermic preservation.” Although this is great for our advancements in the knowledge of marine life, are we pushing our boundaries as humans of what is justifiable?

The majority of mankind acts on their own agenda. It is extremely symbolic that the captain sailed out into the ocean, the monsters home, and killed it, then, when he returned to land he was given money. This theme of antagonizing other species comes at what cost? At what point is the money we receive from hunting, deforestation, etc., not worth the cost of another organisms life? I believe the day of August 8, 1922 is symbolic of how humans will have to face their repercussions for their ambitions and destructiveness. It proves no human is immortal or untouchable to the cycle of life and eventually it will catch up to us.