The alert from technology

The Shape of Water illustrates a story that a monster learned the action and emotion of human, while facing with many challenges and overcoming the challenges with a group of human. Among the challenges, many technology appears. Technology is anything that people build to use for extending the convenience in the life. In the Shape of Water, there is a theme of technology. some of the them are used for good aspects such as the bomb and the medicine, and some of them are used for bad aims such as the chain and the gun. And I was wondering that what does the technology, either good or bad, mean?


For profit the manager in the office locks the monster in a lab room. However, the servant Elsa and the scientist Dimitri recognized the ability of the monster to communicate with people. One scene is that Dimitri decided to put the bomb on a pipe in the garage to create a temporary light off to save time for the rescue for the monster. It can be interpreted as a positive usage of the technology, since it is human’s recognition and identity to the monster, which are corresponding to the positive characteristic of human. What the monster gives to the helpers is understanding and communication. On the other side, the governors use the chain used to lock the monster so that it can be controlled until death, which makes the monster as a tool for their profit in the real world. It could be a natural result that the manager in the office is killed by the claw attacking of the monster. From here, it can be an alert: based on what the technology is and how the technology is used, human can get obviously different result, in which the law of nature applies. However, it is often that human do not notice the goal that they use technology: if a weapon is used for killing people without limit, then the law makes the jurisdiction; otherwise, a weapon could be a tool that the police act for order and justice. Therefore, the tiny theme of technology in the movie could be a hint and an alert for our using of technology.

A fish? A human? It’s a Mermaid!

Myths have been used to tell creative stories and then passed on to generations. A myth like a mermaid, a human with fish like body, can be seen in many books and movies. For example, The Little Mermaid movie may be considered a movie intended for children but the messages conveyed are enriched with the relationship between humans and the sea. Seeing figures like Ariel as well as Mami Wata, another figure referred to as the Goddess of the Sea, it makes me wonder how significant the image of a mermaid can be.
Mermaids seem to frequently appear like women with beauty and power. They represent the sea and its creatures as a whole. In The Little Mermaid, we see that Ariel tries to hide from the prince after her first interaction with him. As curious as she can be, it seems like there is a barrier between her and the human world. That raises a question. Why does the image or myth of mermaid still exist? Well, humans invent things to improve their lifestyles and develop their society. However, their inventions may lead to consequences like water pollution, deforestation etc. So, I think myths like Mami Wata encourage people to appreciate the sea and believe in becoming one with the sea.
After watching a short documentary about Mami Wata by 34thState, many people expressed their respect not only to the figure of Mami Wata but also the sea where she is said to reside. Mami Wata is also significant in representing women who are generally degraded by society. I wonder what makes it significant that it’s a mermaid. In other words, Mami Wata could have possibly be named ‘Mami Nature’ but the name specifically focuses on the huge body of water. From my thinking, there is this beauty in mermaids that draw people’s attention. Many people want to be connected to such power and they make stories that connect to them. It is said that Mami Wata comes to your dreams or uses telekinesis to contact ‘the chosen one.’ On the other hand, we see Ariel getting married to a prince who was born human. They are told from different parts of the world and yet they have a similar fusion. These two concepts relate to show that humans can live in harmony with the sea. It may not be as important whether mermaids or Mami Wata exist. I think what’s important is how their stories can impact the attitude humans have towards nature.


Why Love?

After hearing the stories of Mami Wata and watching the films, The Little Mermaid, and The Shape of Water, I have noticed the common theme of love. First of all, the intro story in the documentary about Mami Wata is told by a male who has this romantic connection with what seems to be a vision of a woman from the sea (Mami Wata). He dreams about her and describes her as beautiful and even when he gets married, he finds Mami Wata more beautiful. In The Little Mermaid, Ariel falls in love with prince Eric and will do anything to be with him including risking her life in order to be a part of the human world. Lastly, in The Shape of Water, Elisa falls in love with the sea creature in the lab and risks her life to save him and have a romantic connection with him. In each of these stories, there is a love connection between the human world and the mermaid or god-like figure world. This makes me question why it is the case that love is a common theme throughout all these mermaid stories we have watched so far. Does this theme have something to do with the fact that mermaids are often portrayed as women?

Mermaids are more commonly portrayed as women who are often sexualized and thought of as objects of love and desire and thus, their status as god-like figures is for the sake of pleasing others. For example, in The Little Mermaid, Ariel is sexualized by her beautiful long hair, big blue eyes, and the purple and pink colors that she often wears. However, I think this common theme of love is due to more than the fact that mermaids are often portrayed as women. For example, In The Shape of Water, the mermaid creature is not a woman yet he is sexualized by his muscular physique and is an object of desire by Elisa. Due to the portrayal of the creature in this film, I would argue that mermaid creatures are portrayed more broadly as objects of desire. This portrayal could be symbolism for the fact that we desire the sea and want to know more about it. Not only that, but it was often men out on ships for long periods of time and to feel less lonely they may have created these stories in which mermaid creatures are sexualized to fulfill their feelings of desire.

The Tale of Two Characters: Why do we Encourage Ariel?

This isn’t the first time we have encountered a protagonist who has fallen in love. In fact, the story of Ariel is quite similar to what we saw in Sea Storyand The Mistake. Specifically, in the mistake, we see the protagonist make a series of terrible decisions, which inevitably wind up with his death. Similarly, Ariel chases love, and nearly pays a grave consequence, as she sells herself to the Devil. Yet, we as viewers still continue to encourage and root for Ariel. Why? ThroughoutThe Mistake, readers condemn the actions of the protagonist, even though they are similar to those of Ariel. Therefore, my question is: How do the creators of The Little Mermaidencourage viewers to support Ariel? I will argue that it has a lot to do with tone and word choice.

Through displaying Ariel as almost a goddess, the creators of The Little Mermaid guide readers to support the actions of Ariel, yet we were quick to condemn the man in The Mistakefor very similar actions. For example, in The Mistake, the protagonist states, “She only put a river between us. Does that mean I should go in search of her? That she is waiting for me? That she left, not to lose me but allow me to find her?” (Kohan 2). As I said, we as readers were quick to call out this stupidity. This is because of the tone that the author uses. When reading this, there is a very uneasy, unsure tone, coupled with the use of many questions. By choosing a tone like this, Kohan shows that this decision may end up hurting the protagonist, which is why readers have this reaction. This is very contrary to the strategies used by the writers and producers of The Little Mermaid. This is shown when Ariel sings “When’s it my turn? Wouldn’t I love. Love to explore that shore above? Out of the sea. Wish I could bepart of that world” (The Little Mermaid). Here, viewers are encouraged to, and do support Ariel. This is because a positive, uplifting tone is used. If the tone had been similar to that of The Mistake, readers may be thinking the complete opposite. Although there are many other strategies used, I think the effective choice of tone allowed the creators of The Little Mermaid to captivate the audience.

Ariel: Rebel or Classic Princess?

After watching” The Little Mermaid” now, it made me like the movie less. As a kid I did not understand the reality and meaning behind aspects of this movie. One of those includes gender and status. There are two powerful sea creatures, and Triton and Ursula. Both of them try to control Ariel, but in the end only the man in power survives. Ariel, the main character, is an opinionated woman. She is curious, but also hesitant because she wants approval from her father. I wonder if “The Little Mermaid” diminishes the power and worth of a women?

Ariel is a rebellious daughter, not afraid to explore, but she is afraid of being alone. Triton does not want Ariel to go on land or meet any humans because he believes humans will only harm her. Humans often exploit sea animals, but Ariel sees something more in them. Compared to other Disney films, Ariel does have a bold Character as a Women, however her independence gets taken away. The push Ariel needed to become a human and explore the land was a man. She has been collecting man made objects for years and always dreamt about what they were used for. None of those dreams were enough, because she didn’t have someone else in them. Ariel needed to fall in love with a man in order to finally disobey her father wishes. Why did that have to be the case? Why couldn’t Ariel have meet a wonderful friend or left the ocean on her own? Since Ariel only became a human to be with Prince Eric, I think it diminishes her overall worth as a woman. Ariel has always wanted to experience human life, but because she does it over a man, it makes the audience forget she had her passions separate to Prince Eric.

A life for love

In the film, The Little Mermaid, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, Ariel makes a deal with the devil (Ursula) to get a shot at meeting her true love. Her love, Prince Eric, is a human and they first interact after Ariel saves him from drowning when his ship crashes. The deal Ariel makes with Ursula is that she trades her voice for a pair of human legs, to have an opportunity to become human by temporarily transforming her into one so that she may earn love. What Ariel finds out quickly is that dancing with the devil is a slippery slope. Even though everything ended working out for Ariel, I question how much are humans willing to sacrifice to earn love?

We see that Ariel was willing to lose her voice and never see her family and friends again to have an opportunity at gaining love. This was also present in The Mistake, by Martín Kohan. The main character was willing to walk miles in a river with no water to go to his love. However, what he didn’t realize was that eventually the water would return and he consequently died. We will also see it in the short story, Sea Story by A.S. Byatt. Even though Harold doesn’t kill himself over his love, he devotes lots of time and goes far into the ocean to drop off a message in the bottle to hopefully reach his love. He does all of this after realising that his love gave him a fake address and email. He was so desperate for obtaining love that he sent a shot into the dark hoping it would hit. Overall I think humans are willing to sacrifice anything for something they believe in like love.

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

In the film, The Little Mermaid, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, King Triton changes from a close-minded father to a person who takes a chance to learn more about a foreign lifestyle. Everyone has a tendency to judge anyone that they observe for the first time. Human minds quickly stereotype others into categories that one might find suitable for a stranger just by the way they look or speak. First impression judgement is a sequence of events our minds cannot avoid doing. Ultimately is King Triton unfairly categorizing humans as bad people without truly understanding their societal ways.

King Triton’s first impression of the “barbarians” that live on land is that they are all killers and that her daughter will be in danger if she goes towards the surface. Through this statement by King Triton, the audience clearly understands that he is not accustomed to the human lifestyle and does not comprehend their reasons for utilizing the ocean. King Triton is simply judging a book by its cover and is hating on humans without substantial evidence. Similarly, in My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears, the Americans judge the narrator’s grandmother without substantial evidence of why she is doing these particular actions. This idea is reflected upon King Triton and demonstrates that if we simply take time out of our lives to understand more about others the world would be a much more peaceful place. King Triton initially becomes close-minded towards humans for killing but does not realize they only depend on the ocean to receive a resource (fish) to help humans live without experiencing starvation. Only if Triton took the time to understand why the “barbarians” were always attacking the ocean (before his daughter forced him to see the true side of humans), there would truly be no hostility.

What does the water mean to him?

The story of The Swimming Pool is written by Jekwu Anyaegbuna, and it narrates how a corrupted former minister of water resources describes his past luxury life to a fisherman in a small bar on river while he is escaping from the angry people. My question is that what does water mean to him?


I think that the water can have multiple meanings to him. As a “former Minister of Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, to him, water is money, he uses the excuses like “to construct dams, execute several irrigation projects for agriculture, and bury pipes underground for water supply to household” to gets funds from the World Bank and IMF. However, he never used it to help people, he used the fund to live a luxury life. He has an automatic swimming pool built for “top-notch hotels” in the developed countries and it “could detect when its water was dirty and change it.” It is especially rare because the poor people there cannot even find any water to drink. However, his second wife and daughter both died within the swimming pool. To him, water is not the source of money, but also the origin of sadness. It’s like trading to evil as you give out your happiness or something precious, you can get money and power. However, water is also the original reason why he chose to be a corrupt officer, because “East African rebels drowned her in a water tank she had built to help victims of drought disaster.” This is how his first wife dies before he becomes a minister. He is disappointed and thinks that the people do not deserve help, instead, he builds the new and luxury house to show off but not help them as a kind of punishment. At the end of the article, he mentioned that “I had to escape to my mother’s village, this riverine settlement ”, which means that water used to be an important element during his growth, and gives him a feeling of home.

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.

The Inevitable Despair

In “The Mistake” by Martín Kohan, hope and despair are prevalent macro-themes that are seen throughout the short story. However, how exactly does Kohan portray the themes of hope and despair in the short story? I will further examine the specific techniques used by Kohan, such as syntax, biblical references, and asyndeton, for example. As the story progresses, the narrator begins to feel a sense of hope, which inevitably transforms into a feeling of utmost despair at the end.

In his portrayal of hope, Kohan uses syntax as well as biblical references to demonstrate the narrator’s aspirations for achieving his or her crossing of the river. Kohan constantly integrates the phrases of “I think” and “I wonder” into the story in order to illustrate the narrator’s refusal of accepting reality. For example, the narrator contemplates, “I think I can spot a coastline in the distance. I wonder if it’s true or I’m just confused. I think I can make out Colonia in the distance” (Kohan, 4). By using this specific language, Kohan portrays that the narrator is very hopeful and is reluctant to accept the fact that he or she will be unable to cross the river. Furthermore, the use of biblical images essentially provides the narrator with a feeling of hopefulness that this is destiny. At the point in the narrative when the narrator has just jumped into the bare riverbed, he or she is suddenly driven by the image that appears in his or her mind: “I think instead of the Red Sea mentioned in the Bible, and of the miracle of divine will that parted the waters to allow the Jewish people to walk through” (Kohan, 3). Therefore, this image of Moses crossing the Red Sea provides him or her with hope and ambition that he or she possesses the courage and strength to endeavor on this journey to Uruguay.

Throughout the short story, the theme of despair is portrayed through the use of syntax and asyndeton. At the point in the narrative when the narrator is walking through the river, he or she begins to question his or her actions: “What’s the point of running? There isn’t one, and yet I run. What’s the point of shouting? There isn’t one, and yet I shout” (Kohan, 4). The use of questioning the purpose of his or her actions illustrates the feeling of utmost despair because these actions are essentially meaningless. Kohan repeats this paragraph structure in the following paragraph, rather using crying and praying in place of running and shouting, respectively. Another technique Kohan utilizes in this short story to portray despair is asyndeton. This technique is observed in the last sentence of the narrative when we encounter the phrase, “But so remote, so vague, so uncertain, so tantalising, that as it comes into view I also perceive another truth: I won’t be able to reach it” (Kohan, 4). The absence of a comma in between the descriptions of the horizon essentially represent that there is no true end, and it leaves the readers without a feeling of togetherness and unity. Similarly, the narrator is full of despair and without a sense of completeness.

Thus, throughout “The Mistake,” Kohan carefully uses distinctive techniques of syntax, biblical references, and asyndeton in order to effectively portray the themes of hope and despair.