Final Paper

Brian Finnerty                                                              
                               5/20/11

English 162W                                                                                             
Prof. Zino

 

Paper #3: My Hall of Fame, My Cave, My Room

 

       Every day one
experiences many different literal places that they encounter. These

 

places can be anywhere from a school to an airport. When one
moves, one takes up

 

different places and spaces. The one place that I encounter
every day is my room. It is the

 

place I feel most safe in and it is also the place where I
spend most of my time in. The

 

spaciousness inside my room allows me to be free both
physically and mentally. In

 

many literary pieces one’s room plays an important role in
the theme of the story. This is

 

why authors like Franz Kafka, Doris Lessing  and Charlotte Perkins Gilman use places

 

like the room to create their story.

 

       There were many
literal places that I could have chosen to create my argument for

 

why authors choose places to address their story. However, I
felt that the setting of a

 

room, like a bedroom, would be the best choice to help my
argument. I feel that many

 

authors use rooms as the main setting for their stories
because it helps their main

 

character develop throughout the story. In Kafka’s “The
Metamorphosis”, the bedroom of

 

the main character Gregor Samsa played the most important
role in Samsa’s

 

transformation. Due to his transformation he spent all of
his time in that one room and

 

therefore Kafka had to use Samsa’s bedroom as the main topic
of his story. In Gilman’s

 

“The Yellow Wallpaper”, the bedroom of the narrator played
an important role in her

 

mental breakdown due to the wallpaper that was on her walls.
In Lessing’s “To Room

 

Nineteen”, two bedrooms were shown in the story. The one
bedroom symbolized

 

imprisonment while the other symbolized freedom and
detachment.

 

 

       I choose my
room as the place that I feel would be an exact space to explore for  

 

authors like Kafka, Lessing and Gilman. In a sort of way my
room resembles the way

 

Samsa’s room was set up in “The Metamorphosis”. My room like
Samsa’s has a bed, a

 

desk to write and study on, and a window. Like Samsa, I also
have an alarm clock to

 

wake me up to go to school and work. Unlike Samsa’s room
however, I have many

 

pictures and posters on my wall that help make my room more
colorful. Also unlike

 

Samsa I do not live alone in my room. My brother and I share
our bedroom. Besides

 

some differences in the size and color of our rooms, Samsa’s
and my room are very

 

similar and therefore I feel that my room would be a perfect
space to explore for Kafka.

 

       The room in
“The Yellow Wallpaper” also resembles my room but not as much as

 

the room in “The Metamorphosis” does. The narrator’s room in
“The Yellow Wallpaper”,

 

is surrounded by an “unclean yellow” wallpaper (Gilman 438).
Like the room of mine

 

and Samsa’s the narrator’s room has a window. From the way
the narrator describes her

 

room it seems that the room is more beaten up and unkempt
than my room. The

 

difference between the room of the narrator’s and mine is
that she did not feel

 

comfortable and safe in her room.

 

       The hotel room
in “Too Room Nineteen”, also looks familiar in a sort of way when

 

compared to my room. Even though the “room was hideous”
(Lessing 541) it had a

 

window like my room and a chest of drawers to put clothes
in. The room like any

 

bedroom had a bed and a chair to sit in. Even though the
room was small and nothing

 

compared to her big house in Richmond she felt comfortable in this room.
She also felt

 

free and unchained from the daily problems that faced her
back at the house.

 

       To become more
familiar with my place I wanted to know the history of my room.

 

I asked my parents when we bought our house and when did I
move into my room. I

 

found out that my parents bought our house in Whitestone, Queens  in 1990 a
year before

 

I was born. After a couple of weeks in my parent’s room I
was finally brought into my

 

room which had a crib in it. As I transformed so did the
room and its size. As I became

 

older the crib disappeared and was replaced by a bed. At the
time the bed seemed like a

 

big boat because I was so little. When I became older the
size of my room became

 

smaller. The older I got the more freedom I received also.
As a baby my space was

 

constricted but once the crib went so did my constricted
space. My bedroom however has

 

never really changed since I have been living and sleeping
there for over 19 years.

 

       My bedroom is
characterized by my love for baseball and the New York Mets.

 

Throughout the whole room there are baseballs, baseball
posters and many baseball

 

figurines that my brother and I have. My love for baseball came
from my dad and

 

throughout my time spent in my room he has helped me get
many of these baseball

 

souvenirs. Because the walls in my room were painted white I
put up many of these

 

baseball posters to make the room more appealing and
colorful. When I walk in to my

 

room I feel a sense of happiness when I look at my
collection of baseball related items. I

 

like to look at my room as my own Hall of Fame because of
the amount of balls and bats

 

I have received from attending over 15 games a season throughout
the years with my dad.

 

My room serves as a reminder of the relationship that my dad
and I share and the love for

 

baseball we have. My room also brings up many baseball talks
between my brother and I

 

which also strengthens our baseball knowledge and love for
the game.

 

       My room means a
lot to me because it is the place where I have slept, studied, and

 

walked around in for over 19 years. It is the place where I
spend most of my time in my

 

house. It is the place where I go to sleep and have my
wildest dreams. My room is also

 

where most of the conversations I have had with my brother
occurred in. It is the place

 

where we talk about our day and our fears with each other. Without
the room my whole

 

childhood would be erased because there are so many memories
that have occurred inside

 

that door. My room serves as a vault for those memories and
when I move out from my

 

parent’s house I can go back to this room to rekindle these
memories. My room and how

 

I feel can in someway compare to the way the narrator felt
about her room in “The

 

Yellow Wallpaper”. In some parts of my room there are New
York Football Giant posters

 

that my brother has hanging up on his wall. Just like the
narrator that side of the wall

 

makes me sick. I want to rip down the posters just like the
narrator ripped down the

 

wallpaper but I know the posters have sentimental meaning to
my brother so I don’t.

 

       Inside the
actual place, the bedroom, there are many spaces that I have used over the

 

years. Just like Gregor Samsa I used these spaces inside my
bedroom to my advantage. I

 

used spaces like the space underneath my bed as hiding spots
to hide from my brother

 

and sister while playing hide and go seek. I also used the
space underneath my bed as a

 

child to hide from the scary noises such as loud
thunderstorms. I used the space on

 

my desk to write my school papers and to study for exams.
The space under my covers

 

also served as a protective cover for me from the outside
world. These spaces became a

 

part of me and helped me if I were ever afraid. Just like
Samsa I would hide under my

 

bed if I felt afraid. The bedroom spaces also allowed for
games to be played and new

 

adventures to be held. As I became older however these
spaces eventually disappeared. I

 

could not fit underneath my bed anymore because it was too
small of a space and I

 

outgrew the games that my brother and I used to play. I also
outgrew my fears of the

 

sounds of thunderstorms. Even though these spaces are now
gone they will always be a

 

part of me because they helped me conquer my childhood
fears.

 

       In the short
story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman the narrator

 

has had a mental breakdown. Like Samsa she is a prisoner in
her own room because the

 

yellow wallpaper makes her feel uncomfortable. She
eventually rips the wallpaper down

 

because the wallpaper is too much for her to handle anymore.
The short story can relate

 

to Tuan’s chapter “Time in Experiential Space” because in
this chapter we see a

 

connection between time and distance. Tuan states “The
greater the distance the greater

 

the lapse of time” (Tuan 121). “When we stand before a
prospect, our mind is free to

 

roam”. “As we move mentally out to space, we also move
either backward or forward in

 

time”(Tuan 125). By these statements Tuan wants us to see
that the more time we look at

 

a particular object the further we will travel mentally in
space. The more time the narrator

 

spent looking at the yellow wallpaper the more she thought
about it and the more she

 

wanted to rip it down. When I look at my baseball collection
of bats and balls the further

 

I travel back in time where my dad and I used to attend
games at the old Shea Stadium.

 

       In Kafka’s
short story “The Metamorphosis”, the main character of Gregor Samsa

 

goes through a transformation. He has been transformed from
an ordinary salesman to a

 

giant insect. Throughout the whole story Samsa struggles
with his new transformation

 

and his relationship with his parents and sister. To adjust
to his new transformation he

 

uses the spaces inside his room to his advantage. These
spaces such as the space

 

underneath his bed and the walls that he would climb on
would help him hide from his

 

parents. Samsa’s way of using space and how much freedom he
had can relate to the way

 

I used my space and the freedom I had while I was a baby in
my room.

 

       The short story
“To Room Nineteen” by Doris Lessing is about a mother, Susan

 

Rawlings, who does everything for her four children and
husband but becomes

 

overwhelmed with stress and distances herself from the
family. She believes she is a

 

prisoner in the big white house in Richmond. She has no freedom because she has
to take

 

care of her children and deal with a cheating spouse. To
relieve herself from the stress

 

she starts going to hotel rooms to be alone. The hotel rooms
provide freedom for her

 

something she never had at the big white house. “The room
was ordinary and

 

anonymous, and was just what Susan needed” (Lessing 536).
Susan wasn’t looking for a

 

fancy place to stay in. She just wanted a place to free her
mind in and a one beaten down

 

room at a hotel did just the thing for her.

 

       In Tuan’s Space and Place: The Perspective of
Experience
, one chapter which shows

 

why my space is a compelling space to explore for an author
like Fafka is the chapter

 

titled “Spaciousness and Crowding”. In this chapter Tuan
relates the amount of freedom

 

one has to the amount of space one inhabits. Tuan states
that “an infant is unfree, and so

 

are prisoners and the bedridden”(Tuan 52). This statement by
Tuan can relate to the

 

freedom that I had as a baby inside my crib and the freedom
that Gregor Samsa had as a

 

prisoner in his own household. Both a baby and a prisoner do
not take up a lot of spaces

 

and therefore they have little or no freedom.

 

       Throughout
Tuan’s chapters he talks about a sense of attachment to something or

 

someone. In the chapter “Attachment to Homeland”, Tuan
states that “Attachment to the

 

homeland is a common human emotion”(Tuan 158). “The more
ties there are, the

 

stronger is the emotional bond”(Tuan 158). The more time we
spend in a particular place

 

the greater the attachment to that particular place will be.
When that place is taken away

 

from us or we move away from that place we have a sense of
sorrow and grief because

 

that place means so much to us. This chapter and Tuan’s
statements can relate to both the

 

attachment to mine and Gregor’s rooms. When I am away from
my room and sleeping

 

somewhere else such as a hotel I become uncomfortable and
have a hard time falling

 

asleep. Nothing compares to my bed and the sense of freedom
and safety that I get when I

 

am inside my room. The statements by Tuan can also relate to
the way that Gregor Samsa

 

felt about his furniture in his room. After his
transformation occurred all what Samsa had

 

was his bed and desk. He would use the bed and desk to his
advantage because he would

 

hide from his parents. When one day the family decided to
take away his furniture Gregor

 

became even more depressed because he felt that they were
taking away stuff that he had

 

as a child. Gregor’s attachment to the furniture was so
great that when the family tried

 

taking it away from him he used every ounce of strength in his
weak body to prevent

 

them.

 

       Tuan’s
statements in his chapter “Attachment to Homeland”, do not however

 

compare to the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” and how
the narrator felt about the

 

setting of her room. Throughout the short story the narrator
confesses her hatred towards

 

the yellow wallpaper. “The color is hideous enough, and
unreliable enough, and

 

infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing” (Gilman
442). She hated the wallpaper

 

because it got in her head. It was all what she could think
of and because of this it

 

eventually led her to rip it down during one of her mental
breakdowns. The statements by

 

Tuan also do not compare to the short story “To Room Nineteen”
because the main

 

character felt like a prisoner at her “homeland”. She felt
like a prisoner at her home in

 

Richmond
because of the responsibilities she had. The big house and the large amounts

 

of money she had did nothing for her. She wanted to be free
and alone and the only way

 

she could have these two were to set herself apart from the
family. She hated her room at

 

the big house because she knew she was sleeping with the man
who cheated on her after

 

ten years of being together. To her the room where she spent
the remaining year of her

 

life, Room 19, was where she felt most happy.

 

       The chapter
titled “Experiential Perspective” is another chapter by Tuan that helps us

 

relate both “The Yellow Wallpaper”, “To Room Nineteen” and
“The Metamorphosis”

 

together. In this chapter the readers learn how “place is a
type of object” and how “places

 

and objects define space” (Tuan 17). By this statement Tuan
is saying that the way one

 

looks at an object defines space. When we look at an object
for just a moment we paint

 

an image of a place. These statements by Tuan can relate to
my room and how I look at it

 

as a place. The spaces that are in my bedroom make it a
place. Without the bed, desk and

 

baseball related items the room would not be called “my
bedroom”. By reading Tuan’s

 

chapter and the three short stories we learn that spaces
create places. Without the spaces

 

in Gregor Samsa’s room, which is considered a place, Samsa
would have never been able

 

to hide from his family. These spaces made Gregor’s transformation
more comfortable. I

 

believe that without the spaces inside hotel room 19 there
would be no “Fred’s Hotel”.

 

From Tuan’s chapter we learn that spaces make the name for a
particular type of place.

 

       In all three
short stories the common theme that the authors address is the feeling of

 

captivity. To show this feeling of captivity that the main
characters have in the stories the

 

authors use the setting of a room. The room, more
specifically the bedroom, in a sort of

 

way is built like a jail cell. With four walls and a door
locking us in from the outside

 

world, a bedroom resembles a jail cell very much. In the
short stories that I read all three

 

authors show how freedom and captivity, whether mentally or
physically, are associated

 

with “the room”. In “The Metamorphosis” Kafka uses the room
of Gregor Samsa to show

 

how his recent transformation has made him into a prisoner
in the Samsa household.

 

Because Samsa can barley move he can not take up space and
therefore according to

 

Tuan he has little freedom. After the transformation
occurred Samsa is subjected to one

 

room in the household just like a prisoner is subjected to
his cell after he commits a

 

crime. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Gilman the main
character and narrator is trapped

 

in captivity both physically and mentally. She is forced to
move into a summer house to

 

cure her problems but being put inside a room where the only
thing on her mind is her

 

hatred for the wallpaper only makes her worse. The room and
the wallpaper show the

 

readers how mentally unstable she really is. In Lessing’s
short story, “To Room

 

Nineteen”, two rooms show the common themes of imprisonment
and freedom. In the

 

room that she lives in at the big white house in Richmond she feels like a
prisoner

 

because of the duties that she has as a mother of four
children. The room at the hotel

 

symbolizes her freedom and uncaring attitude. By using the
room as the main setting in

 

their stories one can clearly see how freedom and captivity
are expressed in the stories.

 

       My room is a
compelling space to explore for authors like Kafka, Lessing and

 

Gilman because I believe my room is characterized in some
way like the rooms that were

 

discussed in the stories. My room is so similar to the rooms
of Samsa, the narrator’s and

 

Rawling’s that I feel the authors would be able to explore
the space in my room in great

 

detail. With my room comes along many stories, customs and
traditions. If an author

 

would to explore my room he or she would have to spend in
great detail talking

 

about these traditions and what they mean to my room.

 

       From the three
short stories and Tuan’s chapters in his book Space and Place: The

 

Perspective of
Experience
we as readers see a connection between the amount of space

one has to one’s freedom. In many short stories the author
uses the setting of a room to

 

address the main theme in the story. The main theme in each
of the three stories that I

 

read is the feeling of being free or being in captivity. The
room was the main focal point

 

for each of the stories and throughout the stories the
“room” helped us see the captivity of

 

the main characters and how far they will go to be free.
Free from embarrassment, free

 

from mental illness and free from stress were all shown in
the short stories. I believe

 

space and place played a great deal in finding out how much
freedom these main

 

characters really had, which was slim to none. By looking at
one’s space and place I

 

could easily relate the setting of my room to the setting of
the rooms that were shown in

 

the stories and I could also see why I call my room my Hall
of Fame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

 

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper” An Introduction to Fiction. eds
X.J.     Kennedy & Dana Gioia

 

 

Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis” An Introduction to Fiction.eds X.J. Kennedy &

Dana Gioia.

 

 

Lessing, Doris. “To Room Nineteen”. New York. 2000. Print.

 

 

Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience.
Minnesota: The University of Minnesota Press, 1977.
Print.

 

 

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