Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Same River Twice (153-188)

I was a little confused when I started reading this, because I realized that you started talking about parts of this section of reading in class on Friday. I was under the impression that we were a day behind with this book. I certainly hope this blog still counts, because it would suck to spend all that time on reading like I did and get nothing for it, but here goes.

In this installment of the story, Chris has made his way to Florida, the last region in the country that he hasn't yet explored. As he finds himself stranded on the side of I-95, he realizes that he feels too old to be a drifter for the first time in his life. After backtracking to Georgia, he finds a ride with a couple of college students down to Miami, and from there he makes his way to his job as a naturalist that is waiting for him in the Everglades. When he arrives, he describes Flamingo as basically Hell on Earth. It's hot, humid, and bugs are everywhere. Everyone literally had to run from building to building to avoid getting eaten up by bugs. He didn't spend long here, I guess because it was such a horrible place to stay. I used to want to visit the Everglades until I read this part. Now I think I would rather not be eaten alive by insects. His coworkers were as colorful a bunch of people as he usually hung out with. His first day there, he dropped the motor from the tour boat into the water. The only thing of consequence that happened while he was there was when he dove into the swamp to save the French boy. The French boy didn't appreciate it though, and kicked him in the face as he was hauled out of the water. Chris was later told by Captain Jack that he dove into shark infested water. Shortly before he decided to leave, a hurricane hits. All the workers in Flamingo waited too long to get out, so they all got trapped there because the roads got flooded. I think they all thought they were going to die. They all got drunk and naked and acted like a bunch of fools. Chris was perhaps the worst one, although he didn't handle it like that. Instead, he went up to the highest part of Flamingo and dared the hurricane to show him what it had in a lackluster suicide attempt. He describes the hurricane as just what I always pictured it to be: beautiful and powerful. Hurricane Jacob moved through the area relatively without incident. It tore everything up and cleaned everything out. Chris didn't want to be a part of the clean-up effort, so he quits and leaves after collecting his six days worth of pay. He takes the bus back up to Boston, avoiding even looking at a drifter as they passed him on the side of the road. I think he really was ready to put his drifting days behind him.

Finally, the two stories started connecting when he describes meeting Rita. He marries her and moves around a little bit while they look for work. They are unsuccessful so he starts looking to apply to a grad school, when he is told to apply to the University of Iowa, which accepts him. They move to Iowa to the house by the river where the other story about him starts out. On page 177 he says "I had my goddess. I had my temple. The prairie spread in every direction." He was saying that he was finally at peace, finally home, and everything lay in front of him. I was happy to see that he made it.

The next chapter is a creative way of describing his wait. The baby is 2 weeks overdue and the doctors will induce labor the next day if Rita does not go into labor. I would never think to describe things the way he does. He is very observant of nature, and describes it well. The last chapter is devoted to a vivid and unsettling description of his son's birth, from the wait in the hospital to the birth itself, including all it's not so appealing details. The epilogue is a brief glimpse into life after birth, a preview of the life that is to come. He takes his son into the woods for the first time while Rita rests at home. He sits in the middle of the woods with his son and is content.

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