Showing 241 - 250 of 295 annotations tagged with the keyword "Obsession"

Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Diary

Summary:

Gottlieb, nearing thirty years old, discovered her childhood diaries in a closet in her parents' home as she searched for some chemistry notes to aid in her quest to attend medical school. This book is "based on diaries" she wrote when she was diagnosed with and underwent treatment for anorexia nervosa. It is the writing of a precocious, strong-willed preteen who enjoys chess, being unique, writing, and getting straight A's in school, yet who is lonely and desperate to fit in and be popular.

Lori is eleven years old, lives in Beverly Hills, California with her fashion-conscious, loves-to-shop mother, her somewhat distant stockbroker father, her older brother David who now is into music and friends and not-Lori, and her best friend Chrissy, a pet parakeet. Lori's diary entries are filled with astute observations of adults (teachers, parents, relatives, medical personnel, even a television star she meets, Jaclyn Smith) and classmates.

She is wry and witty. An early entry gives an English essay she rewrote to get an "A". These "power paragraphs" are generously and hilariously sprinkled with "proper transitions" such as "to begin with", "moreover", and "on the other hand" that her teacher insists are necessary for readability. This essay provides telling insights about Lori's perceptions of her family, particularly (note transition word) her mother's superficiality.

Lori is surrounded by messages of the glories of thinness for women. Every female she encounters, from peer to adult, is on a diet, counts calories, avoids desserts and gossips about how other women and girls look. The culture is not only anti-obesity, but pro-superthinness. Hence it is logical that Lori, angry about being taken from school to go on a family trip to Washington, D.C., begins her rebellion and search for control by skipping meals and dieting.

She gets the attention she craves from her parents. Her schoolmates ask her for diet advice and admire her weight loss. Self-denial, obsession with calories (that she believes can even be gained by breathing), and secret exercising lead to an alarming weight loss in this already skinny kid.

Her mother takes her to the pediatrician, who prescribes whole milk which Lori refuses. He refers her to a psychiatrist, who eventually hospitalizes her for behavior modification, observation, and a possible feeding tube. At the hospital, Lori meets medical students, nurses and fellow patients, but becomes progressively more depressed, dehydrated and lonely. She attempts to run away and makes a suicide gesture. Finally, she sees herself for what she has become--an emaciated stick figure.

View full annotation

A Drink of Water

Brown, III, T. K.

Last Updated: Feb-11-2000
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Fred McCann is an energetic man in his thirties, something of a playboy, when the Second World War breaks out. He becomes a soldier, and in an Italian village one day he goes to a pump for a drink of water. The pump is booby-trapped and explodes. He is blinded and loses all four limbs. The story traces the development of a relationship between Fred and Alice, his nurse in the military hospital.

As he learns to submit to being entirely helpless, reliant on Alice for all his needs, he gradually begins to adapt to his new condition. Then Alice changes everything by having sex with him. At first their new and obsessive relationship makes him happy, restoring some of his old sense of himself as a man. When Alice is moved to another duty and replaced by a sadistic male nurse, Fred is so devastated and makes such a scene that he gets Alice back.

To celebrate her return, Alice sneaks some whiskey into his room and they get drunk. She then says something that appalls him: she calls him her "thing" and confides that she has always hated men, who look at her and touch her and have power. Fred is nauseated, seeing himself reduced to nothing more than a "a phallus on its small pedestal of flesh." He realizes now that he is no longer a man, and later that night he manages to drag himself out into the garden, where there is a small pool in which he drowns himself.

View full annotation

Self-Portrait with Halo

Gauguin, Paul

Last Updated: Feb-11-2000
Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Oil on wood

Summary:

Dividing the background expanse of red from yellow, and surrounded by a halo, three apples--green, red, and purple, four yellow papyrus blossoms, and a snake held between the fingers of the artist's hand, a disembodied head appears caricature-like in this self-portrait.

View full annotation

Somewhere in France

Gardiner, John Rolfe

Last Updated: Jan-24-2000
Annotated by:
Miksanek, Tony

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

An American physician's life is irrevocably bisected by World War I. Before volunteering for medical duty in the war, Dr. William Lloyd's existence was structured, safe, and even obedient. After his experience supervising a hospital in France, his life becomes uninhibited, tumultuous, and eventually dangerous.

After the war ends and he returns home, Dr. Lloyd soon divorces his wife and leaves his family. He returns to Europe with the sole purpose of being reunited with Jeanne Prie, a bewitching and extraordinary nurse he worked with in France. She is also a dedicated microbiologist and possesses some of the characteristics of Joan of Arc. Dr. Lloyd has become infatuated with her. Ironically, he dies a victim of scientific research after inoculating himself with an experimental serum that he hoped might be a successful vaccine.

View full annotation

Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

The first-person narrative of Catherine who is desperate for her seemingly indifferent mother’s love. Raised from infancy by grandparents following her parents’ divorce, Catherine seeks her indifferent but devout mother’s affection by emulating her saintly namesake. She mortifies her flesh in the pursuit of thinness based on an ideal of purity as self-denial and on her mother’s esthetic expectations.

The obsessive behavior extends from anorexia to willful insomnia and severe illness. At college she recovers by discovery of a happier, more direct faith. The essay begins and ends in the narrator’s later life, as she contemplates her own revulsion and pain in caring for her mother who lies dying of breast cancer.

View full annotation

Whither Thou Goest

Selzer, Richard

Last Updated: Nov-05-1999
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This story draws attention to subtle ramifications of organ transplantation for the survivor(s) of the donor as well as for the organ recipient. Also at issue is coming to terms with the sudden death of a loved one. Hannah, a woman in her thirties, finds that three years after the violent death of her husband, she is still caught, "unable to grieve or get on with her life . . . . "

The physician in charge had persuaded her both to allow life-support to be terminated for her brain-dead husband, and to agree to organ donation. "That way your husband will live on." Seven different people are the living recipients of his organs. To Hannah, it seems that her husband is both dead and not dead, an intolerable situation.

She becomes obsessed with trying to meet the person who received her husband's heart. This will be the means by which she can re-connect to the living and achieve closure--she will hear and feel her husband's heart in the chest of the recipient, her ear "a mollusc that would attach itself . . . and cling through whatever crash of the sea." At the end of the story, Hannah has succeeded in her quest and the man who is the heart's recipient, at first suspiciously hostile, has become Hannah's co-conspirator and protector.

View full annotation

Fetishes

Selzer, Richard

Last Updated: Nov-05-1999
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The wife of an anthropologist can not bring herself to confess to her husband that she had all her upper teeth removed many years before when he was away for an extended period. When she is hospitalized for a hysterectomy, she is told she must remove her dentures. She is appalled that her husband might see her without her teeth and nearly refuses the operation. She is helped by an Indian physician with a limp who understands her needs.

View full annotation

Our Mutual Friend

Dickens, Charles

Last Updated: Sep-22-1999
Annotated by:
Holmes, Martha Stoddard

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The multiple plots of Our Mutual Friend, Dickens's last complete novel, twine around the miser John Harmon's legacy of profitable heaps of refuse ("dust"). Harmon dies and leaves the dustheap operation to his estranged son John, on the condition that he marry Bella Wilfer, a young woman unknown to him. When a body found in the Thames is believed to be the younger Harmon, travelling home to receive his inheritance, the dustheaps descend instead to Harmon's servant Noddy Boffin ("The Golden Dustman").

Boffin and his wife respond to their new status by hiring Silas Wegg, a "literary man with a wooden leg" to teach Boffin to read; arranging to adopt an orphaned toddler from his poor great-grandmother; and bringing the socially ambitious Bella Wilfer into their home, where she is watched and evaluated by John Rokesmith, a mysterious young man employed as Boffin's secretary.

Rokesmith is actually John Harmon, who has survived betrayal and attempted murder and is living incognito so that he can observe Bella. Boffin's negative transformation by his wealth, Bella's moral awakening as she witnesses the changes wealth produces in Boffin and in herself, and the developing love relationship between Rokesmith and Bella form one key sub-plot.

Another is the romance between gentlemanly idler Eugene Wrayburn and Lizzie Hexam, the daughter of the waterman who finds the drowned body. Class differences and the obsessive love and jealousy of schoolmaster Bradley Headstone threaten their relationship, but they are finally married with the help of the crippled dolls' dressmaker Jenny Wren. The smaller plots that interweave these sensation/romance narratives comment on the hypocrisy of fashionable life ("Podsnappery") and the destruction of the family lives of both rich and poor by an industrialized, materialistic society.

View full annotation

The Interior Castle

Stafford, Jean

Last Updated: Aug-18-1999
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
Chen, Irene

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A victim of a car accident suffers severe cranial fractures and facial disfigurement. Assuming a passive-aggressive stance toward the medical staff, and carrying on a sarcastic inner dialogue with her surgeon, she creates her own world, to escape and combat the pain. She becomes infatuated with the mystery and power of her own brain.

View full annotation

The Shawl

Ozick, Cynthia

Last Updated: Aug-12-1999
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Collection (Short Stories)

Summary:

The Shawl is comprised of two stories, "The Shawl" and "Rosa," originally published in The New Yorker respectively in 1980 and 1983. The first and much shorter of the stories is an extremely powerful account of the brutality of the Nazi concentration camps. Rosa, (who we meet again 30 years later in the second story), has been hiding and protecting her daughter Magda in a shawl. Rosa's 14 year old niece, Stella, (who also is central to the second story) takes the shawl from the child for her own comfort. The horrific events that follow, tiny Magda's search for her shawl and discovery by a German soldier who hurtles her to her death against an electrified fence, shape the remainder of Rosa's life--and this book.

In the sequel, Rosa, now 59 years old, has moved to Miami (a "hellish place") after literally destroying the junk shop in New York which she had owned. She lives an isolated life in a dilapidated one room apartment. Stella, who remained in New York, supports her financially, and is her primary source of contact with the outside world. A serendipitous meeting at a laundromat with a Mr. Persky, however, changes Rosa's life.

This is not to imply that there is a romanticized ending to this story--just a glimmer of hope of reconnection to the world is offered. For Rosa was still living the holocaust. As she put it--there's life before, life during (Hitler's reign) and life after--"Before is a dream. After is a joke. Only during stays." This orientation to the world is what Persky challenges.

View full annotation