On Inhabiting Spaces & Identity

I’ve noticed that The Ravickians seems to be interested in the idea of “belonging”, but in a much more physical way than we saw in Event Factory, namely in reference to identity and what it means to inhabit oneself. Our narrator introduces this idea within the novel’s early pages, saying, “When you are small, you cannot ignore the heat from large bodies moving around you…’I am not a body’, I often said as a child, because I believed mine was not big enough” (8-9) This affirmation later acting as a motivator for her to gain weight , but that ultimately does little to “ground [her], [for] that is how it seemed to work in the world of objects” (38-39). To consider oneself not to be an entity integral to his or her existence is relevant to the idea of the foreign, of not seeming “at home” in her own space. I find it intriguing that she would seem so comfortable placing herself in the world of objects as opposed to the world of “bodies”, particularly at such a young age.

However, as I was reading, I was reminded of a moment in The Flamethrowers in which Reno briefly describes how, as a child, she believed her body was not of suitable size to withhold her essence; such also seems true here. She remarks, “As a child, in this city, there was a sense that when you were outside – as long as you were outside – you were not stuck as a person…[Children] would have been too young at the time to be known [differently] by [their] parents, thus, free” (21). I get a sense that our narrator seeks to combat feelings of entrapment in her body through identifying it with objects in motion and trying to emulate that momentum through travel, but that this is often not enough. While on a train (her vehicle of choice for inhabiting when not “stuck” as a person), she says “I get on board to escape myself, yet I am still with me” (66). As a reader, I wonder what it is about personhood that she has sought to escape for so long, and what it was about trying to become “grounded” that she had not achieved.

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