Since I wasn’t able to be in class to hear and respond to everyone’s comments on the last four chapters, I’m going to respond to Julianne’s ideas in her post for today because I was having very similar ideas, especially noticing the similarities between the family members and the college friends in the narrator’s stories and in Steinberg’s essay.
I think that Julianne’s last comment is particularly interesting: she says that the narrator is likely the “same woman, expressing her history in different forms of prose” (Nov 6). I think that this fits very well with the text’s interest in language’s ability to communicate experiences. In the final four stories, the narrator continues to struggle with this and continues to use the same phrases as she has throughout the text in an effort to continually be more and more precise in her expression of her experiences. In the final four stories, a trend emerges where people ask, “What do you want?” I think it fits that the narrator seems uncomfortable with trying to express what she wants. She thinks that’s not the “right” question to ask. Does she mean that if you ask somewhat “what do you want?” you’re not really going to get to understand how they’re feeling and what they’re experiencing? Does she mean that that’s not the right language to use to draw from them more language that will express the experience correctly?
Near the very end of the book, the narrator seems to come to a conclusion about this issue. She says, “I knew there was only so much I could know about others. And there was only so much others could know about me. There was nothing religious, I knew then. There was only this desperate performance” (133). I like how this brings performance into the discussion, where language had really dominated before. I’d be interested to hear my classmates’ thoughts about how performance expresses experiences and whether it does so better than language. I’d also be interested to understand what religion is doing in between these other lines which seem to make sense together. I guess I’ve partially missed the text’s interest in religion; or, I’ve noticed it, but I haven’t come to any real interpretation about it yet.