Esther’s Space- journey through my life

November 16, 2007

Apex~ Struggle is a Really Crappy Name

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 11:11 pm

Really, I hate naming the town ‘Struggle’. But that’ s not what I’m here to deal with.

In finishing the novel we were supposed to try and hold onto the threads of the metaphors the novel (because apparently it is acting independently of its author?) is playing with. One of the things we began to discuss in class was how Nomenclature Guy sees himself within the corporate structure, and within society as a whole.

In terms of his not-whiteness, NG is certainly conflicted about his racial identity. Sometimes, he refers to himself as a “brother,” but in other instances makes a very clear distinction between him and Regina’s ‘people’. I guess it might be comparable to me recognizing my relatively shared race with someone from Australia, but would not regard our histories as familialy connected within the last century or two.

With the idea of Muttonchops and Scary Housekeeper Lady being the underbelly of Freedom/Winthrop/New Prospera/Struggle’s society, but the ones that the city needs in order to survive as a community.  These people, however, aren’t the movers and shakers that NG regards himself as.  Where these two ‘types’ come together is when you encounter the nomenclature whiz kid who is never invited to the Christmas party.  But, again, I am stuck in a position where NG places himself very much outside of this realm. He is winning awards, so would obviously be invited to the Christmas parties, since his absence would certainly be noted.

Why is NG outside of the roles that he sees all of the other ‘marginalized’ or, perhaps, black segments of society stuck in (the necessary but unappreciated social infrastructure)?  At the same time, he also, occassionally, sees himself as closely tied into this social stratum of individuals.  He uses the colored Apex bandages, but they only cause him to allow his toe to fester and causes him to lose the toe.  But, in the long run, the damage is primarily psychological, or psychosomatic.   I can’t make all of the pieces fit together.  Perhaps they are not supposed to.  That’s it, this is the postmodern perspective– there are many simulataneous truths, since life is not a pointed, clear and concise narrative it is possible that there are numerous and probably paradoxical truths.  Oh, sly, sly.



  1. It’s interesting that you point out the ambiguity that NG has with is racial identity. He identifies with the Other and outside that identity. I find that interesting because it’s always been white people or white men that have been outside the realm of the other. It is a fragmentation within the identity of the other (I think). The construction only occurs because of his interaction with white people; Quincy- a new identity. And, when I think of construction I think of history and NG’s necessity to adapt to ‘progress’.

    I am trying to work through the part about whiz kid and his absence being noted. Do you mean kind of like the absence of the token black guy?

    Comment by bastianm — November 20, 2007 @ 4:27 pm

  2. NG’s problems with his identity have also struck me throughout the novel. I’ve been trying to tie it in with Hall, and pieces seem to work, but sometimes NG seems so conflicted that I have a hard time pinning his situation down and making a case. I’m stuck between whether NG uses Hall’s old or new theories of identity when defining himself. For example, on page 58, the narrator states that NG had “a kind of vibe he projected” which seems to relate to Hall’s idea that the old theories were about our true and false selves. In this situation, it seems that NG identifies himself by presenting his false self to the world in order to fit in easier.

    On the opposite side, NG has realized the collective identity is complex (Hall’s new way) because he also seems to identify himself based on “splitting.” NG refers to himself as a “brother,” but distances himself from Regina’s people. Generally, minorities are considered the Other. Because NG already falls into the category of Other, he defines himself as a subset within the Other category. Hall states that we need distance between ourselves and the Other in order to figure out our identity, but negotiating this distance is often compounded because the two are so interconnected. NG’s confusing actions where he seems to identify one moment with his race and shun them the next, exemplify this.

    Not sure if this added much new information to your blog or makes much sense, but hey, it’s only a few hours before Thanksgiving! 🙂

    Comment by lakersgirl — November 21, 2007 @ 7:16 pm

  3. it seems that NG considers himself marginalized by “Regina’s people” often because of his education at Quincy, and the fact that this good-old-white-boy connection can get him in anywhere. he doesn’t seem to have the “outsiders” stigma that maybe other people do have in breaking into this “white world”. see my blog for more. or dont. its a busy time of year.

    Comment by Hannah — November 26, 2007 @ 11:31 pm

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