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True or Untrue Grit Analysis
In the short story of True or Untrue Grit By Laura Chester, the author transports the reader into the kooky and zany dream of the protagonist, Nora. In this parallel dimension of dreams, the main character finds herself immersed in situations that are downright delusional. The oddity of the situation is that Nora seems to take the eccentric characters and atypical mirages in her dream with a puzzling calm. However, Chester uses the symbolic gesture of the doubtful dream coupled with the main character’s attitude towards it to drive her social critique on popular culture, American pop culture to be specific. Chester utilizes the cliché of the dream being representative of a person’s suppressed desires and or secrets as a pedestal unveil the arrogant and extravagant ignorance that has consumed people in the modern age, however even more surprising is human tend to maintain a facade of blissful ignorance even in the face of truth. In the first section of the short story, Chester plays up the pompous notion of ‘perfection’ and mocks Nora’s exorbitant attitude towards her seemingly flawless life. Nora is situated inside the confines of her newly built mansion facing the “perfectly shaped, symmetrical (13)” mountain that has never seemed to have struck her attention during daylight hours. The idea of a mountain being perfectly ‘symmetrical’ is juxtaposed
with its connotations of being rustic and being naturally beautiful. A mountain, found in nature, is grand and majestic with a multitude of different depths and dimensions shaped and constructed through the hands of Mother Nature. So to take the ‘natural-esque’ component out of the mountain and replace it with something ‘perfectly symmetric’ seems to place a generic and plastic aesthetic on this mountain that Nora seems to be captivated by. The notion of an ultimate perfection and beauty is extenuated further as Nora describes the night sky with its “amphitheatre (13)” of stars as almost having her own “planetarium (13)”. There is irony in that statement as Nora suggests that the natural skyline of stars resembles a man-made planetarium- a symbol of a plastic aesthetic, when in reality it should really be vice versa and the planetarium should resemble the stars in the night. Chester carves out her argument in Nora’s subtle remarks as to demonstrate our fondness for a certain standard of ‘beauty’- a beauty so generic and insubstantial in comparison to the real beauties found in nature. Our interpretations of what is beautiful and what is perfect are so skewed, and truthfully, fake. As the story is elaborated further, the appearance of the mysterious and obscure tribal man is introduced, the short story’s most compelling supporting character, the strange ‘Indian’ (Native American) man. The appearance of the character and Nora’s attitude towards him confirms an air of ignorance that bounds the innocent yet ignorant protagonist. Nora refers to him as Grit- her decision based upon the disdain she had found within his appearance. She regards the Native American as a “Real Live Indian (15)” completely oblivious of her faux pas of referring Native Americans as ‘Indians’ as they are not the indigenous peoples of India. The phrase, ‘real live Indian’ also conveys a sense of regard toward the Native American as if he were not a human being, but a
coveted specimen of some sort. Nora strips away the Native American’s humanity, which in turn displays her insensitivity to people and things outside her own realm of wants and desires. Chester uses the Native American as a totem pole towards her greater message of human ignorance. Nora’s condescension is projected further upon Grit as she refers to his Apache descendants as “yelping (16)” men riding across the valley. It is clear at this point in the short story that Grit is a symbol of a wild and unruliness that does not meet the standards in Nora’s world. Grit is a trespasser not only to her estate but onto her values of living- shallow values to say the least. For he is symbolic of everything that Nora finds incredibly distasteful in terms of appearance and speech. Although she is not intentionally trying to ridicule the man, her thoughts and opinions are clearly driven by her own egotistical sense of self-importance over others. He is the blemish to her shiny bubble of ‘perfection’ per say. To add insult to mockery, Nora’s estate adopted the name ‘Manzano’, Spanish for ‘apple’ because Apaches used to raise the orchards for apples. Her minuscule amount of knowledge regarding Apache history have been diminished to ‘apple raids’, for it is not even important to consider the fact that her estate has been built on Native American “holy ground”. Nora’s complete oblivion towards the sensitivity of Grit and the integrity of his history demonstrates the rich veil of ignorance humans have towards matters outside of their personal concern. The dream contains vast amounts of symbolic ignorance, however to magnify the scope of the dream further, Nora’s dream is so blatantly ridiculous, her dream really is a manifestation of the ignorance that seems to engulf her in her own reality. In her dreams, there are triggers to indicate that Nora’s dream is an allusion to the life she leads in New York City. Her estate named Manzano, is the Spanish word for apple, indicating New
York’s classic nickname of the Big Apple. There is a point in the short story where Nora comment’s on Grit’s attire asking if it were from “Sick-Sack Avenue”- a clear indication of New York’s coveted fashion district of Saks on Fifth Avenue. The dialogue between Nora and Grit satirizes the superficiality that is present within Nora’s own reality- a superficiality based upon a culture that prizes appearances and materialistic things over knowledge and self worth. This is a clear criticism of America’s mainstream pop culture and our fixation with extravagance and glamour. There is a point in the story when Nora insists that her “40 acre” estate was not big enough- an ironic litote to highlight her arrogance, yet also shining light on the deteriorating state of the human condition, as it reveals our incompetence to truly be considerate of others; material wise and emotionally. Nora’s fixation on this ideal of perfection is elaborated further as she tends to idealize figures in her dream. She regularly comments on how she finds her contractor to be like the ideal and “perfect husband” as he is “consistently agreeable” and always making “endless adjustments” for her. Her fascination for the perfect and the ideal is indicative of an insecurity that has been breeding, that her life has become quite unsatisfactory and empty in the face of the superficiality of the modern age- her own shallowness as well. Upon further analysis, Nora is always remarking on how much her present conditions could be improved to her ’liking’- an ideology so deep-rooted in selfishness. Nora’s dream is a segway into her becoming enlightened with her reality. Her dream had just been a manifestation of all the complications she found within her life, it was an conscious attempt by her subconscious to have her dream be an outlet for all her angst and lurking flaws. The dream is the realization that ultimately the strive for perfection is nearly
impossible, and throughout the quest to obtain this forced illusion of beauty, Nora has become transfixed within her own ignorant and exorbitant ways. The dream in which Nora has questioned its ‘reality’ many times has become more or less the truth which Nora has become. Her reality is more like the allusion in which material aspects and generic aesthetics has consumed and diluted her life. Although, perhaps the dream is really an ultimatum that reveals to her that she is not completely ignorant yet, and there is still time to acknowledge the fraudulence of such a life. Whereas the dream does nothing but reveal the deteriorating condition of humans, that people use their warm blanket of blissful ignorance to shield themselves away from the emptiness and hollowness that has become weaved and fabricated into their own selfish realities.
regards the Native American as a “Real Live Indian (15)” completely oblivious of her faux pas of referring Native Americans as ‘Indians’ as they are not the indigenous peoples of India. The phrase, ‘real live Indian’ also conveys a sense of regard toward the Native American as if he were not a human being, but a coveted specimen of some sort. Nora strips away the Native American’s humanity, which in turn displays her insensitivity to people and things outside her own realm of wants and desires. Chester uses the Native American as first totem pole towards her greater message of human ignorance. Nora’s ignorance to the Native is parallel to how humans regard things in which they find foreign or strange. People tend to label and make a mockery of things in which they have obtained little knowledge to. To magnify the situation further, Nora’s display of minuscule information about Native Americans suggest that humans tend to label and categorize things we do not know as a sort of defense mechanism to ease our own uncertainties. Nora supplements her knowledge about the Native American with information from her neighbor, commenting on how her “neighbor had been right (15).” As Nora names her Native American ‘Grit’- yet again another display of mockery of the Native American’s heritage