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Analysis of Eye Socket Girls

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jmkock
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Analysis of Eye Socket Girls by Paula Bomer
In the course of history, the ideal of a woman has changed a lot. In newer, postmodern times, the female body ideal has changed radically. With the technology advancing significantly in this period, it creates an even easier way of setting more focus on how the ideal woman should look. The medias, commercials and famous fashion houses are now defining what the perfect woman is supposed to look like. This often results in teenage girls starving themselves to loose weight, and tries to strive for this unachievable woman ideal. The story “Eye Socket Girls” by Paula Bomer takes this up to a postmodern perspective, where we follow an anorectic girl at a hospital.

The time is hard to pinpoint exactly, but there’s some hints throughout the story. A TV, and the American actress Winona Ryder are mentioned when the narrator describes how obesity takes over “weak” High-School girls. This description indicates that the story takes place in the late 90’s or early 00’s. The female ideal at this time was to be as thin and bony as possible as described in the story “We look voraciously at one another. We envy the protruding bones of someone who is that much closer to not being here at all” (p. 112, l. 11-12) when she tells about the anorectic ward where she is hospitalized.

The story takes place in an American hospital ward, where the only patients are anorectics. The story signifies that it is taking place in America, since the narrator is talking about high school girls. One of the similes of the ward is that it smells like playbo. Also the narrator sets a tone of a prison like hospital ward “Open a window, please - I won’t jump - I’m not a suicide patient. I just don't eat.” (p. 112, l. 3-5) but this is normal for a hospital ward, and therefore only a feeling the narrator has.

The narrator, who is also the main character, is a very self-centred first person narrator. The narrating is very aggressive, as seen in this example where the c character describes how her high school life was “Not me. In high school, I started getting straights A’s. I ran on the cross-country team. I had the lead in every play, I ran…What can I say? I’ve always been on a roll” (p. 113-114, l. 39-6), as it is shown in her use of I.
The main character is an anorectic girl, who is hospitalized at a ward for anorectics. We never get to know the main character’s real name, only her age and how long her period has been absent. The main character is twenty years old and has not bled for six years, probably caused by her bad eating habits and malnutrition. This could give the reader a hint about how long the main character has been struggling with her illness. The reader can interpret that the main character is a spoiled young woman from the American upper class, a perfectionistic woman, ignorant, competitive, and a control freak through hints in the story. One of the hints, that indicate her social background, is the fact that the place is at an American hospital, which is very expensive. There are also hints of the main character getting everything she wants at home, as shown in the text “At home, I cam in when I wanted, I bought all the clothes I wanted, I wore all the make up I wanted” (p. 113, l. 42-44) this could suggest that the main character has rich parents.

The protagonist is a perfectionist and wants to look like the ideal woman. She wants to become perfect, therefore she counts everything she eats and gets straight A’s, as shown in the text “Straight A’s… Half an apple. Two bites of toast. What can I say? I’ve always been on a roll” (p. 113-114, l. 39-6) this is also one of the main things that characterises an anorexic. This makes her create an illusion in a way to deceive herself, into thinking that she is perfect. She is both overly controlling and obsessed with the idea of perfection. She believes that she cannot be perfect without having control with what she eats and therefore never will be able to pursue her so called perfection when the doctors control her eating habits.

The main character does not like the doctors, and describes them as “The bitchier the face they make, the worse of the girl is.” (p. 114, l. 10-11) and she thinks they are trying to control her with their treatment, which she sees as a competition “Sure, the IVs fatten us up for awhile, but then we go home. Then we resume life as we know it. Life as a battle of will. And we’re winners.” (p. 113, l. 17-20). This makes her ignorant to the fact that she is slowly killing herself and that the doctors are only trying to help her. ‘

The main character talks about lying next to a new girl, who has just arrived, and she gives her the nickname Melissa. The main character gives her a nickname, because the nurses wont tell her the name “I wonder what her name is? The nurses won’t tell me. I ask them, I say, hey nurse, what’s the new girl’s name? I say, she’s cute. They sneer at me, but I know it” (p. 114, l. 26-28). Afterwards the main character states that she has been talking with Melissa all night, and she still calls her Melissa after the talk. This can set Melissa’s existence in to question, and therefore she could be a part of the main characters better self, as shown in the text “I am aware that the new girl has hair growing out of her face. This girl’s body sprouts hair like moss on a tree stump, everywhere to keep itself warm, to protect itself. I know about these things. I’m aware of the effects of my disease.” (p. 112, l. 16-20) and “She is the Master of all Masters. Down boy, she says to her screaming veins, down!... I bet at one time it was thick and shiny, falling in cascades down her back. Now it falls out in droves.” (p. 113, l. 1-6) is shown that the main character looks up to Melissa, and therefore could be the main characters reflection of an ideal anorectic woman.

The main character is naively searching for perfection. Therefore one of the themes could be denial, because of the main characters ignorance and simple-mindedness. She is ignorant to the fact that she is slowly killing herself, and denying the happening that she is slowly committing suicide, as shown in the text “Open a window, please - I won’t jump - I’m not a suicide patient. I just don’t eat.” (p. 112, l. 3-5) where she is describing the prison li selvmodsigendeke life, she feels at the hospital. It’s also a paradox because the character doesn’t want to commit suicide, but she is slowly doing in her attempt to be skinny.

The message is hard to define, but I think it’s a message about how the pursue of the woman ideal is a paradox in a whole. The pursue of the woman ideal is self-contradictory because it’s an ideal and therefore it can never be fully fulfilled, and if you try too hard to fulfil the society’s woman ideal it will have consequences for your whole life. Therefore the message is, be happy about who you are, and don’t envy others.

A paradox is a postmodern feature in literature. Also the uncertainty of what the story is about opens a window for fragmentation in the reader’s mind. Here the reader can interpret the story in many different ways, and see why this anorectic girl is behaving like she does. Also the story is very social realistic, with is a common feature in post-modern literature. It’s based on something that could happen. But the most important post modern feature this story takes use of, is that there is no absolute truth, as shown in the text “You see, every one has their story” (p. 115, l. 1) when she talks about the rest of the eye socket girls. All in all, the entire story is postmodern because of its the social realistic features, and the free interpretation the story gives with an open ending.…...

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