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English 245: Modern Fiction

a collaborative exploration of pervasive tropes, themes, and concepts in contemporary fiction

Self Created Cool-Girl Standards

Hi all,

Amy’s cool girl rant was one of the many pieces that made me think Flynn was using Amy as this awesome tool to make (exaggerated) observations about the contemporary dating scene and what modern relationships look like.  However, it wasn’t the most interesting piece to me at all.  In class it seemed like the general stance was. “Yep.  We see what she did there, we came, we understood, we conquered, moving on–”

But then just a 1/2 hour ago I was suddenly faced with the cool-girl standard, in my own (usually rather uninteresting) dating life.  Forgive the over share, but my partner wants an open relationship.  And I had this sudden surge of guilt and panic when I realized; that I didn’t want one, not at all.

I felt guilty because I have done so much reading and defending of polyamorous relationships and lifestyles and here I was, face to face with it, and I couldn’t be comfortable with it.  I haven’t had the need to say no to my partner about anything yet, we get along fine.  It’s still a pretty new relationship, so I guess we both still have our good masks on, at least if Flynn were writing our story.  All of  a sudden I was trapped between being the cool girl, whose open minded and (usually) well informed –and being honest about what I was comfortable with and wanted out of a relationship.

There’s such a tangible feeling of needing to say yes, of needing to be the cool girl.  And there is such a guilty aftertaste after you say no, put your foot down and let your mask slide off to reveal yourself as a flawed human with insecurities and needs.  After finishing the whole novel, I considered the ending tones of dread and settling down with a monster because you know how that monster is a monster to be Flynn’s biggest parting message.  However, in retrospect of suddenly understanding what Amy was on about, I give new props and authority to how that character called society out on that phenomena.

It’s not that there aren’t girls who are totally happy being in an open relationship, it’s not that there aren’t girls who love drinking beer and football and eating chips and dip, it’s not that there aren’t girls who enjoy spending their time and energy on having a picture perfect physique –the “cool girl theory” is that there is not a girl who is capable of putting their partner’s needs and desires above everything else, be the perfect girlfriend, and still be comfortable and satisfied.  Humans aren’t engineered that way, you can find people who come close matching everything that you want, but no healthy relationship is going to have someone who is COMPLETELY perfect –or cool.

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The Matrix Stuff

So, I’m doing my project on the Matrix Trilogy, its heavy amount of allegorical themes, and why stories, like the story told in the Matrix Trilogy, is important in the world of fiction, whether it’s through novels, television or films. I’m posting two links to videos that anyone can watch if they happen to be fans of the series. They are just examples of how in-depth one can go when it comes to analyzing the overall story and lore of the Matrix. I don’t agree with the theories presented in the videos, but they are just entertaining and if you’re a fan they’re interesting to watch.

 

We complete each other…

“We complete beach other in the nastiest, ugliest possible way.” (Pg 393)

This quote from Nick sums up the realtionship between he and Amy perfectly. Amy is a complete sociopath who needs people to love her absolutley. This love she feels is what is owed to her, that she is in fact Amazing Amy. We see this whenever someone compliments her and her reaction is simply I know or about time you realized it. “If you said she looked beautiful, she knew that was fact. If you said she was brilliant, it wasn’t flattery, it was her due.” (Pg 355) For those who don’t love her or even those who are loved more than her we have seen the dire consequences. Nick on the other hand is someone who works tirelessly to get people to love him. Near the end of the novel Nick worries about how his breakup with Andy went. “I just- hate how it ended” (Pg 356) he says despite how much damage she caused to in the case and to his face. He desperately needs her to like him despite all of the turmoil. When he is with Amy he knows that the only way for her to like him is to show unwavering love and devotion to her. For this love and devotion, Amy in turn loves him. Their faults feed off of each other creating as Nick so perfectly phrases it “a sick, fucking toxic Mobius strip” (Pg 393). Looking into the future of this relationship as a child is introduced I wonder how this will affect the dynamic. Amy will certainly expect unconditional love and admiration from the child but it’s very likely that it may like Nick better. If this happens will Amy be able to accept it, or will she seek revenge upon Nick and their child?

Chekhov’s gun

Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that every memorable element in a fictional story must be necessary and irreplaceable, and any that are not should be removed. This statement was made by Anton Chekhov 1860-1904, he was a Russian playwrite and short story author.”If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there”

Flynn uses this to perfection  with Nicks spank bank deposits. First mentioned as what seems to be a brief throw away that Nick had to sign some papers to destroy his deposits, before the paper disapears. Amy uses this to ultimately “win” her battle with Nick by artificial insemination and check mate, Nick loses his only chance to beat Amy and rid himself of her forever. I did not like how the book ended but i must admit Flynn used this concept to perfection. I am sure most people who have read the book did not give this little bit of info a second thought, I know I did not until the end. So what have we learned? Flynn created an awesome be it very disturbed character, and also followed Chekhov’s advice. She fired her literary “gun” right into Amy’s womb creating the device to keep Nick right where he needs to be, next to her for the rest of their lives. Well done and well played 🙂

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Amazing Amy, Trophy of Hope

In the reading from the weekend, you almost can’t help but feel bad (to an extent) for Amy. With numerous miscarriages an stillbirths, all named “Hope” by her parents, she essentially filled the position of each “failure” at life as who would’ve been known as Hope (number 8).

Amy on day seven, can’t help but bask in the attention her disappearance has received. For a brief moment she almost feels bad that her parents are hurting, until she reflects upon her life, her identity, and how she’s basically just been a puppet for them to exploit and collect on. Flynn touches on the fact that our experiences form and drive whom we become, and follow us around, haunting us-while also touching on the driving force behind the pressures we face as individuals being our “motivation” (p 259).

“I know I should feel should feel sorry for them, but I don’t. Ive never been more to them than a symbol anyway, the walking ideal. Amazing Amy in the flesh. Don’t screw it up, you are Amazing Amy. Our only one. There is an unfair responsibility that comes with being an only child-you grow p knowing you aren’t allowed to disappoint, you’re not even allowed to die. There isn’t a replacement toddling around; you’re it. It makes you desperate to be flawless, and it also makes you drunk with the power. In such ways are despots made.”

Amy admits that she’s powerful yet cruel, and that her childhood made her this way.

To an extent-I can relate to Amy. My parents had my older sister, very prematurely-unfortunately she was too underdeveloped, and at the time, medical interventions weren’t advanced enough to sustain life. Her name-Courtney Michelle; my parents gave us the same initials. My parents had high expectations for me from birth, always pushing me to do different things, making sure that appearances were perfect, my room was perfect, that I was “perfect”. I grew up knowing about her from a very young age. Besides being expected to be perfect, I felt like a puppet; I was her replacement.

When my younger sister Emilie was born, her developmental delays appeared quickly. While my parents tended to her in her early years of childhood-getting her the resources she needed, they doubled, if not tripled the amount of expectations and pressure they put on me. Because my sister had developmental delays, I was expected to always be the best at whatever I did (whatever they chose for me to do). Here’s a picture of Chad learning Karate, another of Chad playing T ball, Football, baseball, etc. Chad’s 12 and overweight, lets join weight watchers (my mother and aunt) and sign Chad up as well. Acne-lets visit doctors, his face can’t look like that, hair isn’t blonde enough-highlights, time for a haircut-chad this is what you’re getting. Chad’s gay-time to go see a shrink and “straighten” him out, spending extra time at the church wasn’t doing it. College-your grades aren’t good enough-you won’t get in, and we won’t help you pay for it. You got in to massage therapy school? Better save your pennies, we aren’t helping you, oh? you need our financial info for student loans? too bad!

Perfection and being a replacement destroyed a larger portion of my life. It wasn’t until I moved out at 17 and started making my own choices that I found myself to be happier. However, much like Amy, my parents expectations are still present (in my mind). While our relationship has improved over the years, immensely in the last 5, their ideal of perfect follows me constantly. Reflecting, I find that “perfection” has followed me and still motivates me (mostly subconsciously) in every aspect of my life; I’m tired. As much as I’ve tried to remove it from my life, because I lived it, those life experiences have made me who I am today. Like I said, I can’t help but feel bad for Amy, and relate to her; fake murder and disappearing, that’s another story.

Robbing The Cradle

Relationship gaps, or “age disparity” have been documented back to practically the beginning of time. During history, depending on demographic, these gaps while at times quite large, were deemed social “norms”. Think arranged marriages, life expectancy/reproductive ages, etc.

In our society today a large gap in age typically will raise a few eyebrows. That being said, without even realizing it, we’ll often label individuals involved in relationships, as having motives. From “gold digger” to “trophy wife”, and “cougar” to “robbing the cradle” everyone is labeled. We view the individuals in these relationships as either being a “playmate” or a “hugh hefner” type.

With that being said, Gone Girl touches on the topic of age disparity (simultaneously with affairs) in a way that parallels to society’s views. While I’m not defending Nick’s affair, or condoning his relationship with Andie, I will say that Flynn did an excellent job painting a picture of their relationship being “wrong” through her presentation of character traits. Yes, Nick (34) is Andie’s (23) married teacher, she is an adult. Flynn painted the audience the picture of Andie being a bubble gum chewing, non-stop texting, “tween” type, with Nick being an “old married” type, which of course would make any reader sick.

We discussed in class the “creepiness” with their relationship in many different contexts, and while I do agree to an extent, based on many factors; it hits close to home. Following that discussion, I couldn’t help but evaluate my own relationship in relation to age disparity. I met my partner of five years, when I had first turned 21, he was just 29. In our situation compared to Nick and Andie’s, we were both single adults, and he wasn’t my teacher. In addition, I think despite some personality traits similar to most individuals in their early 20’s, I was a bit more mature. We jokingly will make comments about how he “Robbed the cradle” however, neither of us believe that to be the case.

With that said, this all points out the idea that society is quick to judge and stereotypes, regardless of situations or further details.

Excuse villains, condemn heroes

Amy gives a hell of a speech about cool girls. Very passionate. She really does feel she is wronged by the people in her life. We feel, for a moment, like she may be worth sympathy. Then you snap back. She is trying to frame her husband for murder. And then kill herself. Her villainy removes the sympathy, but it’s still there, in the back of your mind, like a sore you can’t stop poking at.

We do the  opposite with our heroes. Someone did something great once. But now, come to find out, they also did evil things. Or at least bad things. Philandering, racism, hate. Now we step back. Does their wickedness take away from their great deeds? A (relatively) recent example: Thomas Jefferson. Enlightenment thinker, writer, revolutionary. Or, slave owner and bigot. Can a man so entrenched in slavery and the idea that blacks were less able than whites be forgiven in light of his achievements? Do the scales balance? How much good outweighs how much evil? How much evil outweighs how much good?

If Amy was a battered wife, would we feel she was justified in her plot, even a little? Does her description of how Nick hates her qualify as abuse, and therefore make us hesitate when we see Nick struggle to accept his possible incarceration and execution? Does any of it matter, in light of her strange sociopathic tenancies?

How it was written

In reading Gone Girl I am particularly amazed by the way in which it was written. In the story so far we have three different narratives, Nick’s, Diary Amy, and Real Amy. I wonder how Flynn went about writing the novel. Do you think that she wrote each narrative in one shot or did she write it how it appears in the book?

I feel that each way has both positives and negatives. If she wrote each narrative one at a time it would certainly be easier to maintain that narratives voice which she does so well. However the downside of this way of writing is that it would be harder to maintain the overall timeline, though a good outline could certainly alleviate this issue. If she skipped back and forth between the different character narratives it would be harder to maintain the distinct voices but easier to maintain a fluid timeline. Either way the novel is amazing.

Defending Amy

Amy is a shallow, spoiled, psycho bitch. But in class I feel like I don’t hate her as much as I should. I feel like my dislike of Nick is wrong, and Amy is the sole issue here. So since I don’t feel confident arguing my point in class, partially cause I feel like I get told it’s wrong a lot, I’m going to here 🙂

First of all, Amy is highly highly damaged. Which isn’t an excuse, but it explains a lot. She really should never have been born, as stated by the fact that she is the 8th and only non dead child. This effected her parents, and possibly was where Amazing Amy came from. They had dreams of what their child would be even they didn’t have one, and didn’t really adapt this image to how an actual child behaves. And Amy’s parents were very very very very clear about what they expected, though the books. Which Amy could never live up to. While her parents told her that it had nothing to do with her, that’s laughably see-through.

So Amy grew up never being what her parents wanted, then in high school and beyond she still wasn’t what boys want. She could pretend to be the Cool Girl (as she calls it), the girl that we all know doesn’t exist. Some parts? Sure. But no one is exactly like what guys want (Even if they all want something different, the perfect person will never ever exist). So Amy finds this guy, someone who is also faking it to be liked. So she falls in love, and then she does what fakers never do. She stops faking. And low and behold, Nick stops liking. She thought she found someone who might actually like her, and he doesn’t. He can’t stand her. And instead of being honest, he finds a young, not too bright, ALIEN FUCK DOLL. She finds out as she goes to try and make up, to try to help fix things. And he just goes to fuck this girl he doesn’t know, while she is standing there waiting.

So is Amy innocent, hell no! She’s totally crazy. But I also don’t believe she deserves so much hate. Nick made his share of screw ups, and he did the same thing as Amy. He lied about who he was and then was surprised to learn that Amy wasn’t what he thought. He wanted so bad for people to think of him a certain way he ruined any chance at it. He didn’t frame anyone for murder, but he is not the victim. They both are the victim and the offender, and both blame the other. This happens until one of them snaps, in this case Amy in all her planning ways.

Yell away if you disagree, Nick Fucked up and Amy did too. They both suck

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