Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jimmy's dream displays resentment towards his father - Ben Carlson

In a lot of the dreams and daydreams that Jimmy Corrigan has throughout the story, his thoughts and feelings that he internalize comes out for us to interpret and understand. One particular case can be difficult to interpret but can be fit to the story. On pages 56 and 57 of Jimmy Corrigan we see a representation of Jimmy’s thoughts and feelings when he dreams about a pet horse named Amos. This horse is a pet for Jimmy that likes to look fancy and in doing so, upsets Jimmy’s father and pushes the resentment that his father has, to making Jimmy kill Amos. Jimmy runs away and talks to a friend Avery, where he builds up the courage to do as his father wishes and he wakes up in the middle of the act. I believe that this dream displays some of Jimmy’s negative feelings towards his dad.

The story as a whole leaves a lot for interpretation, as I understood it; Jimmy grew up without knowing his dad and without knowing of his dad even. He has a very overbearing mother that controlled a lot of what he did and always wanted to keep in check with him. When he finds out his dad exists and wants to get to know him, I believe that there is a lot of resentment that is internalized by Jimmy. In class we discussed the similarities that Jimmy has to Charlie Brown, the same depressed person that accepts when bad things happen to him and doesn’t speak out. On page 13 is the first time that Jimmy internalizes in the story with regards to his dad, he gets the letter and is confused because up until this point he accepted that he didn't have a father. Instead of asking his mom about it when she called, he just let it go. He finds out in this instant that he has a dad and didn't have to go through life without a father. Having that heartache that he has been missing out on a father figure in his life up until this moment when he could have had one must have fostered some resentment towards his father for that abandonment.

Later when Jimmy is meeting and talking with his dad, he is talking with him in a fast food place. If I was meeting my dad for the first time, I would want it to be in a place that is less commercial and probably crowded. We see later in the book that his father regards him and his half-sister as mistakes, when this occurs we do not see Jimmy speak out or say anything against it, but only internalizes it and suffers because of it. He holds a lot of negative emotion towards his dad that seems unresolved.

What kind of father would ask a son to kill his favorite horse? Despite the horse trying on his pants, this does not seem like a very nice demand from Jimmy’s father. When faced with this demand, even dream Jimmy has to show having some resentment that his favorite animal is going to die. He runs away from the terrible thing that his father asks, this is a representation of what Jimmy does in real life. When his father does something terrible or there is something negative associated with his father he shuts down emotionally and internalizes it, he “runs away” in his mind.

When interpreting this dream, I understood Avery to be his conscious making sure that Jimmy did what he was supposed to do. In Jimmy’s real life, he may be hearing and accepting shocking things that make him want to run away, at least emotionally from the situation. He stays and sticks with his dad, because while making him uncomfortable or being less than ideal for getting to know his father, it is the right thing to do. While Jimmy is faced with tough times like having to kill Amos, he is stepping up to the plate and taking the risk in this social situation, which surprises me.

Jimmy waking up right as he is about to pull the trigger on Amos doesn’t come across as a regular dream where he would wake up before something terrible happens. The dream develops to him waking up because in that moment he realizes what it is that he is supposed to do, stay with his dad and get to know him.

One final part to interpret from the dream that Jimmy has, is the setting. When he is faced with the difficult task, the scene becomes rainy, a symbol that expresses sadness or depression. This isn’t something that is new to Jimmy, he is a sad person that keeps a lot on his mind and this shows in the dream.


  1. The first paragraph is basically a summary; while it ends in an argument, it's a very obvious one, or a fairly surface-level one. It would be better to focus from the beginning on some aspect or component of his negative feelings toward his dad.

    In the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs, you're summarizing other parts of the book. This might serve some purpose - but we're halfway through and we have nothing resembling an argument, and you haven't said anything substantive about the dream you're ostensibly writing about.

    In most of what follows, I'm a little unsure of your focus. I'm not saying that your take on the dream is wrong - but it seems obvious at some points, and at others, it's unclear where you're going.

    When things came together for me, it was at the very end, when you presented a clear and interesting idea: the dream is about Jimmy reconciling himself with his obligation to stay. I'm on board with that - but what, then, is the significance of all the peculiar ideas and images of the dream (why the *tiny* horse? Why "fancy"? Etc.) I feel like you've found a good focus, but you needed to *then* deal with the complexities of the dream in the context of that image, rather than to rely on a series of generalizations, then lead into your idea.

  2. Good job on capturing key elements in the dream. It might be helpful to focus on one part of the dream. One part I found interesting involved the horse. As you mentioned it is a reminding image to Jimmy about his father shutting down emotionally. If you think about it more, a horse is always seen as running free. This can possibly represent the whole idea of running away and being free as I feel you are trying to express.