It’s funny. I didn’t think that I’d find such depth and meaning in my summer reading.
I was assigned four books over this past summer, one of them being Toole’s The Confederacy of Dunces. In reading this book, it opened up my eyes of the vicious circle that has been plaguing our society since the birth of mankind and undoubtedly will do so for eternity (or, in my mind, the Rapture).
People want to be viewed by others a certain way. They portray themselves accordingly depending on who their audience is. As shown through the main character of Ignatius J. Reilly, one might strive for acknowledgment but receive nothing but judgement in return.
Prejudice is a instantaneous reaction, an almost inbred behavior. It may take your brain a few seconds to scan a stranger before you feel like you already have a grasp of the kind of a person he or she is.
People, whether conscious of the fact or no, put on a guise in order to recreate themselves. Most people describe going off to college as a time to “start with a clean slate.” This is essentially people putting on a new persona. You are given the opportunity to leave your past behind. So you used to be the girl who was too shy to approach anybody? Well now that same girl is the first to introduce herself at her new college. You are allowed to break the binding chains of the stereotypes that you had been associated with during these chance times. And in this vicious cycle, there are many opportunities to change.
We are afraid to be judged (on different levels of course) yet, we judge almost all we see. The circle feeds on insecurities, on fears, on secrets and it generates even more. Just as Van Gogh‘s potentials were never realized (at least not until after his death) and Ignatius’ motives were misinterpreted, humanity will always reject what is not the norm. And, in one way or the other, people will always strive to live up to the standards of their peers.