Powerless against the world. This is an analytical essay about exile and idenity in the book I Said With Magellan by Stuart Dybek

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In order for a person to feel as if he or she belongs he or she has to have a connection with the human race. People that do not develop this belonging tend to develop a timid personality that renders them powerless against society. This timid personality makes it easier for the rest of society to put one down, and to make one feel as if he or she is really truly powerless. A person can however retaliate and come back from this sort of humiliation and prove to others that they are not powerless. That they too are a strong powerful person. As nice and wonderful as that may sound it does not often happen that way. The truth of the matter is that once people are put down and made to feel powerless, those people are exiled from society.

People who are cast aside have it in their heads that there is nothing they can do, that they are powerless, and do not belong with society.

It is these same individuals who seemingly lose themselves. After being cast aside from society and being rendered powerless they no longer know who they are. They lose touch with reality and with themselves. These are the people who do not show their true colors, not because they do not want to, but in part because they do not know what those colors are.

When a person does not know who they are they can feel lost. Lost in a sense that they do not know where they belong. Knowing where you belong and having a sense of home is an important part in feeling comfortable with who you are. These things, knowing where you belong and having a sense of who you are, are crucial in someone's personality. When you feel lost in your own life, in your own personality there is no way you can feel like you belong. You feel alone and are therefore exiled from yourself and others. In a sense, making one feel powerless can exile them not only from society, but also from their true identity.

Well known author Stuart Dybek gives his accounts of exile and a collection of short stories he has titled I Sailed with Magellan. Although these stories are all fictional, some believe them to be somewhat autobiographical. These stories all take place in Chicago where Dybek grew up, and in the same type of town where he was raised. Each one of these stories has its own type of exile and own portrayal of how the powerless are exiled.

In his story "Live from Dreamsville", Dybek wrote "Sir would hear the noise and charge in swinging a belt, or a shoe, whatever was handy, an attack he called a 'roop in the dupe'"(Dybek 30). In this scene we see a fathers need to express his power over the children. The father would beat the kids at night when they were messing around instead of sleeping. He didn't do this to hurt the children but, to teach them the lesson that, he was in charge and that they were powerless under his control.

What he didn't realize was that the children were not just messing around; they were embracing their imaginations. The imaginations that only children have, the wild imaginations that as we grow up seem to leave us. By doing this, their father was inadvertently teaching them to ignore their imaginations. This exiles the children from themselves because, they are not only ignoring their imaginations to appease their father, but they are ignoring a key factor in what makes them who they are.

As children some people may have had an imaginary friend who lived in an imaginary world. It was these friends that got these people through the rough times in their childhood. When one was in timeout his or her imaginary friend was with them. Their imaginary friend went everywhere with them. Whenever his or her imaginary friend was needed, the friend was there. Now if you take away ones imagination, that person's imaginary friend disappears along with the imagination. He or she no longer has a friend to rely on whenever he or she needs them. This changes that person's entire childhood and consequently they grow up to become a completely different person.

Some may argue that not all people had imaginary friends and they turned out fine. This may be true but this is only one example of how vivid and crucial a child's imagination is. Some careers rely on the imagination. If one never got in touch with their imagination as a child, or was turned away from becoming in touch with it, that is a career they may never be able to pursue. No matter how bad he or she wants to be in that field of work, he or she may not get the job because they do not understand how to get in touch with their imagination. In relation to Dybek, with their fathers seemingly innocent act of making the children powerless and deterring them from their imaginations, he may in sense have changed their entire lives. Exiling them from what their true colors may have been, and the people they would have turned out to be.

In his story "Live From Dreamsville", Dybek takes the ideas of exile and powerlessness a little bit further by portraying the exile of animals.:'For shitsake, Jano, stop beating the goddamn dog,' Kashka yelled. She soundedmore irritated by the noise than anything else. 'You said you wanted him mean, notlike the other one, didn't you?' Jano answered. 'This is when you gotta get them ifyou want'em mean.'(Dybek 36).

In this case the dog was getting beat to change his attitude. They wanted the dog to be mean, so in order to change him they beat him, by beating the dog, Jano also taught the dog that he was in charge. The dog realized that he had no power and that Jano was his master, the one he is to obey. Now obviously a dog cannot feel exiled or try to be different than he is, but an animal can feel pain.

When pain is inflicted on an animal to often, said animal gets a new attitude. This animal becomes mean, and since it has been taught pain, and knows pain, it inflicts this pain on others. Whether it is on other animals or people, or just objects you can see the mean attitude of this animal. If an animal is taught to fight they will fight, and if an animal is taught to catch criminals that is what they will do. It is not necessarily hard to train an animal to be mean in some cases it is wrong.

Although an animal may not be able to distinguish who they are like a human can, we as people can do it for them. We can see a nice animal in a happy spirited puppy. Also we can see that happy spirited puppy turn into a wonderful grown dog, one who is loving and caring. But if that puppy is beaten and neglected they will not turn into that nice grown dog. We can see how this changes the personality of the dog turning them into something they were not originally made to be. As I said before a dog can not necessarily feel exiled or different, but this concept does help prove the point that making others feel powerless can change them and in sense exile them from their true identity.

Whether the situation involves animals or humans that feeling of belonging is necessary. It is that feeling of belonging that gives one a sense of security in the place where they are and it is that sense of security that is needed for one to explore who they are in order to find their identity. If one does not feel secure in exploring their imagination they will not do it, cutting away at a major part of who they may become. If one is beaten in order to change, they will change, never knowing who they were supposed to really become.

Most people would like to know who they are, and most people do not want others to change them. No one wants feel powerless, as if they do not belong. Despite what most people want the reality remains the same. People who do not belong are rendered powerless against the rest of society and are treated accordingly. It is ultimately that feeling of powerlessness that causes one to feel lost in their search of who they are, consequently causing one to be ultimately exiled from one's true self. It is these individuals, the ones who do not know who they are that are rendered powerless against the world.

Dybek, Stuart. I Sailed with Magellan. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003.