Marina Keegan's 'Why We Care About Whales'

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Do you ever hear a song, are certain of its title and artist, only to quickly discover that it is another entirely? It leaves you wondering, ‘how could I mistake this song for one so vastly different? Are the notes the same? Is there some commonality that I have previously ignored?’ Sometimes this creates a new understanding of the song, adding a layer of meaning that seems unrelated, but manages to add depth and dimension. A similar pattern can be found in literature where two essays of diverging topics can find commonality in a key concept. While Marina Keegan’s struggle to understand herself in “Why We Care About Whales” seems incongruous with the metaphorical difficulties that perplex Jorge Luis Borges in “Borges and I,” their ideas interlock…show more content…
She wakes up to a flood of people on the beach, desperately attempting to save beached whales by “digging trenches...placing wet towels on their skin and...pour[ing] buckets of water on them” (Keegan 611). She immediately rushes from her home to aid in their endeavours, even sitting with one whale until it finally dies. But throughout the piece she weaves another narrative, one of discomfort and anxiety arising from her lack of similar compassion towards the homeless and starving, those of her own species. They are certainly at risk of dying, but she reflects on how she passes by them with little thought of offering help, “walk[ing] home through town past homeless men curled up on benches” (Keegan 612). She knows inherently that saving whales rather than people makes little sense and that she should be utilizing her resources to save humans, not animals, and yet her actions fall short of this…show more content…
Yes, they do need help, and yes, there is some piece in all of us that can see a reflection of ourselves in them, but this fails to outweigh the embarrassment established through the association with these people. That is why Keegan and the other people on the beach find it so easy to spend their time saving the whales. They need rescuing, and there is nothing predominantly discomforting about helping them, because they are just similar enough to be worthy of aid because “they have some sort of language, some sort of emotion,” but different enough that we cannot truly see ourselves in them (Keegan 611). Keegan seems to think that if she can save something, and she seems to think that the object of her rescue is of inconsequence, then surely she cannot be a bad

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