In this project, I was playing around with shapes and how massive bodies can be translated into simplified forms. I decided to draw
Colson Whitehead Analysis
One of the most common rules known to writers is “Show, don’t tell”, but Colson Whitehead breaks this rule in a very crafty way. His narrator speaks in real time. He details every moment he can recount as he navigates this moment in time through the subway. But, what really stands out is the way the voice switches.
One moment the narrator is looking at his surroundings, painting wonderful imagery of what he experiences around him. He will pinpoint the advertisements on the wall or detail these people are cascading down the stairs, but then all of a sudden the voice is cut and the narrator breaks from his train of thought. He will tell you “Wait” and question whether a woman knows something he does not or he will tell you “Do not hold the doors. Do not lean against the Doors. The doors are not your friend.”
He will tell the reader what is going on when it is going on, but then add a significant amount of detail to take out the blandness of the simple actions. Colson does a good job of relating objects in the subway to objects on the outside such as stations to clocks, tunnels to fungi halls of fame, and trains to lions.
In scenes such as “only after a while does he notice her and give up his seat to the elderly lady,” on page 52 confusing whether or not the narrative is because it is not detailed who “He” is. Same goes for “Spying on an empty seat when you get there soda sloshes” on the same page. He uses these pronouns all of a sudden without addressing who is really talking about and it seems like a sudden shift.
He talks about so many people in one scene, but does not properly detail who they are and doesn’t bother to know who they are because they are merely just strangers to him. It seems as though Colson Whitehead writes as these thoughts are popping in his head at that moment. He can recount second by second of how he feels. One moment he is super focused on people, architecture, the art, the visuals, and the next he is in a rush to react to the moment he has just been facing.
From the start of the story, I could tell I experience going through the metro very differently from Colson Whitehead. In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense as he tells us in City Limits that everyone has their own New York. But I just don’t have the time or energy take in the details he does as he navigates through the station. Half of the time I’m too lost, a quarter of the time I’m in too much of a rush, and the other quarter is that the subway is such a mundane task, like sitting in traffic, that I don’t bother remembering much of the experience. Usually, I sit on the train ready to pass out. I had been previously walking around so much before I got to the station that I am beaten. The train probably would have been my first time to sit in hours and the last thing I want to do is get lost in thought about the visuals around me. Instead, I somehow manage two opposing tasks at once: enter an entirely different zone and stay on guard for my safety.