Sunday, December 14, 2014

White Boy Shuffle

The suicide dynamic in the White Boy Shuffle is one that is rather rare and was somewhat confusing to me upon initially reading the book.

Gunnar's and Scobies thoughts on suicide stem from a self-consciousness that Gunnar describes when he says the following to Psycho Loco:

"Might as well kill myself, right?  Why give you the satisfaction.  The trippy part is that when you think about it, me and America aren’t even enemies.  I’m the horse pulling the stagecoach, the donkey in the levee who’s stumbled in the mud and come up lame.  You may love me, but I’m tired of thrashing around in the muck and not getting anywhere, so put a nigger out his misery” (226). 

Why does everything seem to turn downhill in Boston? I think it's the awareness that the boys have of the underlying racist tendencies that even exists among the backdrop of multiculturalism found in Boston (contrasted sharply with the single cultured settings earlier in the book). Scoby goes ahead and kills himself, leaving Gunner to play the part of Osamu Dezai, "the heavy hearted writer who wandered the back roads of Japan struggling to raise the nerve to commit suicide in the Tamagawa River" (190).

The nihilism in the book seems to peak during the scene when Scoby is asking Gunnar about the height of various buildings in Boston... obviously planning his suicide. Gunnar knows Scoby is going to kill himself. I think he doesn't stop him because Gunnar feels just like Scoby does, the only difference is that--like Osamu Dezai--Gunnar is still gathering the courage needed to kill himself. 

1 comment:

  1. White Boy Shuffle shows us that racism is everywhere in America, from the impoverished streets of LA to the upper-middle class liberal universities on the East coast. This is extremely important in today's society where many try to justify that racism is dead. I think its very depressing for an already cynical Gunnar, and Scoby as well, when even after they escape LA and leave behind all the shit they have to deal with over there, Boston is just as bad. Like the narrator of Invisible Man, I think they both had relatively positive attitudes about going to Boston, but this was all shattered when they arrived.