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You are the coma baby

You are the Coma Baby

The novel Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney relates the tale of a young man

working for a prominent newspaper in Manhattan by day, while visiting many bars and

nightclubs during the night. He manages to accomplish this through the help of his use of

cocaine, to which he is powerfully addicted. Throughout the novel McInerney employs the

use of the Coma Baby, a current story in the New York Post, a local tabloid, as a symbolic

representation of the main character. The Coma Baby has been residing in its mother's womb

after the mother suffered a car accident and entered a coma. The debate is to whether the

Coma Baby will see the "light of the delivery room". In this passage the main character is

experiencing a dream where he interacts with the Coma Baby in his workplace. This passage,

through the words and phrases employed by McInerney as both dialogue and narration, is

strong support for the concept that like the Coma Baby, the main character wants to avoid

facing the harsh realities of life and continue living isolated in his world of narcotic-induced

pleasure. The author uses the interaction of the main character and the Coma Baby as proof

that the main character will not realize the fallacies of his ways until he has hit rock-bottom.

The Coma Baby is shown to be the symbolic representation of the main character

through his actions and philosophy toward life, a philosophy wholly irresponsible and

unmotivated. As the main character approaches he asks the Baby if he's going to come out.

The Baby responds with "No way José. I like it in here. Everything I need is pumped

in."(line 11) This remark illustrates the main character's attitude toward life. With the

condition that the Baby gets what he needs, he has no motivation to improve his situation.

This parallels with the main character, who , provided he has his cocaine, does little to

improve his situation. For example, he continually shows up late to work, and then after

completely botching a project is fired from his job. The drugs have completely stolen his

motivation towards life. After this, when the main character tries to reason with the Coma

Baby about improving his situation, the Coma Baby plays a deaf-and -dumb routine(line14),

highly symbolic of the main character's actions toward those that have been trying to help

him. For example, the main character continues to avoid Clara Tillinghast, his boss, in her

attempts to bring him to work on time. Suggestions from Wade and Megan about his

lifestyle fall on the main character's deaf ears. The main character's attitude toward Clara is

shown in the passage when the doctor knocks at the door on line 16 and her voice is that of

Clara's saying:"Open up. It's the doctor." To this the Baby responds with "They'll never take

me alive", a clear representation of the avoidance and rebelliousness the main character

demonstrates toward Clara.

The use of certain language references related to the main character work to further

the notion that the Coma Baby is representative of the main character. At the opening of the

passage, the main character enters the "Department of Factual Verification" with the plaque of

"L'Enfant Coma" written upon the door. Inside, two of his colleagues, Elaine and Amanda,

are doing lines of cocaine upon a desk while swearing in French. Near the end of the

passage the main character answers the phone with "Allô?", the French way of greeting. The

usage of the French language associates this entire dream setting with the main character and

his premise of French knowledge. In line 11, the Coma Baby uses the phrase "No way Jose",

a phrase used by the main character throughout the novel. The usage of these work to show

the reader that the Coma Baby dream scene is representative of the main character in the

novel.

Through the dream scene related by this passage, the Coma Baby is shown to be

symbolic of the main character in the novel. The author's purpose in doing so is to show the

fallacy of the main character's situation:that he will not realize how he is destroying his life

until he has hit rock bottom. Throughout the passage the main character tries to convince the

baby to improve its life, yet the Baby remains stubborn as does the main character in his own

life. As the main character does not realize he is represented by the Coma Baby, he will

continue to throw away his life and fortune in the pursuit of a good time. Only when he

must peddle his brand-name sunglasses in order to buy food will he "acknowledge loss, and

possibly, to rediscover his better instincts."

Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/coursework/you-are-the-coma-baby.php



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