Insanity In 'Drinking Coffee Elsewhere'

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Madness and Malaise Essay #2 Madness has been a part of society since the dawn of humanity. However, the way we view and define madness is constantly changing over the course of time. With the help of science, mental illness has come a long way; from being a supernatural, fearsome anomaly to the diagnosable and widely classified psychological disorders that we all know of today. Yet, with all the progress we’ve made whether it be medical or technological, we still haven’t found a definitive way to remedy mental illness. By depicting the incurability of madness in the contemporary era, works like “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” by ZZ Packer and “Blythe” by Lauren Groff ultimately argue that those who are stricken with insanity cannot be helped.…show more content…
For instance, in “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”, Dina utilizes her internal conflict of living in denial and constantly having to pretend as a means to survive. This is clear when Dr. Raeburn explains, “you construct stories about yourself and dish them out…” (128) followed by Dina’s remark, “He looked at me, his hands sputtering in the air in a gesture of defeat… Dr. Raeburn would never realize that ‘pretending’ was what got me this far” (128). In this sense, even when Dr. Raeburn confronts Dina in hopes to solve her problems, she is unable to resolve her conflict because she relies on them, which effectively emphasizes the author’s point that individuals who are mad can’t be helped. Similarly, Heidi’s attempt to restore their friendship forges a new conflict between the two instead of closing the gap that Dina has created by dissociating herself from Heidi. This is clear when Dina says, “Fine… And she’s going to be dead for a long time. Though it sounded stupid, it felt good saying it, as though I had my own locks to click shut” (130).The resulting conflict that arises from the intentionally good invitation clearly demonstrates the author’s point since Dina further isolates herself by cutting her ties with Heidi instead of accepting her invitation. Lauren Groff justifies her point through Blythe’s internal conflict. Blythe’s struggle with her destructive…show more content…
Firstly, in “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”, Dina’s revolver comment during the orientation games is a symbolic representation of her unwavering mental illness. This is clear when the dean asks, “You were just kidding… about wiping out all of mankind” (107) and Dina replies, “maybe I meant it at the time” (107). By symbolically representing Dina’s mentality as a weapon that can only breed violence, Packer further suggests that Dina’s mind-set is immutable. Thus, this symbol defends the author’s point that individuals troubled by madness can’t be helped. Similarly, the locks on Heidi’s suitcase symbolizes the absolute rupture between the two friends. This is clear when we read, “She closed her suitcase, clicking shut the old-fashioned locks… Though it sounded stupid, I felt good saying it. As though I had my own locks to click shut” (130). The fact that both of them “shut their own locks” symbolizes that they have given up on each other, because Dina is too adamant to open herself up to accept Heidi’s considerate invitation. Therefore, this symbol further reinforces Packer’s argument. Lauren Groff also suggests that madness can’t be cured through Blythe’s performances that symbolize her mental instability. Her performances are ultimately a reflection of her madness; her mental health deteriorates as her performances progressively turn for the extreme. This is clear when the author writes, “Blythe

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