Harris Kamran English Literature Analytical Paper 30 July 2011 The Reptile Garden: An Analysis The human personality has many aspects to it, and many of those features are quite intriguing and puzzling, and need an in-depth analysis to understand them. It is not always possible to reach a definite conclusion regarding human behavior, rather a set of possibilities is often a better approach to explain it (I Ajzen, 5-10)…
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When viewed in retrospect, it becomes evident that the incident of Anais getting locked in the garden room was of central importance to the development of her character, and to the different events that befell her later in her life. Although she denies this towards the end of the story, her ingestion of the drug and getting locked in the garden room was a transition point in he life. The most intriguing feature of this episode is the appearances of reptiles, followed by amphibians, that led to Anais getting scared and crying. Since the title of the story is also related to this garden room full of reptiles, this episode is of central importance to the story, so it would be discussed first. There could be several interpretations of this incident. The focus on the appearance of reptiles, with a subsequent transition to amphibians could denote the process of evolution from one species to the next, higher level of species. The writer could have used this approach to make an analogy for the development and evolution of the Anais’ personality and character. This could be a way of depicting her growth as a person, and her development into the individual that she was meant to be. So she came out of that room a changed and evolved person, who was now had different aims and a different approach to life. Another explanation could simply be that Anais got terrified and disturbed due to her experience in the garden room; her loneliness, her exposure to animals, insects and other reptiles, her unhealthy condition due to the ingestion of the acid that was given to her by her cousin, and her sheer sadness that led her to weep alone in the room. Being subjected to such adverse experiences, she came out of that room a terrified and weak person, who was paranoid and always scared for her safety, since she “couldn’t stop shaking at the slightest unexpected movement” (Erdrich). This deterioration of her personality could have been the reason for her extreme attachment to Nonette later, and even made her wonder why she got so weak when her parent’s love for her was so strong (Erdrich). A third interpretation of the episode could be that the incident broke her free from her habits, her compulsive attitude_ the evidence of which comes from her uncontrolled habit of cleaning the bathroom, even at midnight_ and the self-absorbing shell that she had encased herself into to keep the world at bay; and led her to experience new activities and desires that she had perhaps not allowed herself to experience before. It made her more reckless and carefree, and more spirited to live life in a manner different from what she was accustomed to and had been trained for. Perhaps the best explanation is the combination of the former two. It is evident that she was frightened by her experience in the garden room. Considering the emphasis placed on the appearances of the different animals, and the writer’s special mention of the appearance of first reptiles and then amphibians, it can be deduced that the Anais, after emerging from the room, had evolved into a scared, weak, and overall different person from a focused, stable individual who went into the room. The next intriguing event is Anais’ statement about Nonette, when she muses “
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