Saturday, August 3, 2019

Murray Siskind: Wise Man Or Raving Mad? Essay -- essays research paper

Is Murray Siskind a raving lunatic or a wise, but somewhat eccentric man? Does he ever have a point, or is he just mindlessly rambling? He’s neither of those things. The first impression he gives is of someone who’s in between, but that proves not to be the case. He’s actually a very cunning man, one who has become the â€Å"devil† voice of Jack Gladney’s conscience. Eventually he’d like to become Jack. He covets not only his position and standing in the university, but also his wife, Babette, and he makes no secret of it. Why else would he do something to lewd as to sniff her hair and grope her the way he does? He tells Jack that the only way to seduce a woman is with clear and open desire. Well, it don’t get no clearer than that. All those things become apparent later on. First, we find out who Murray Jay Siskind is. He’s an ex-sportswriter from New York. He’s Jewish. He was briefly married once during his sportswriter days. We know he is now a visiting lecturer on â€Å"living icons† at College-on-the-Hill. Physically, he is â€Å"a stoop shouldered man with little round glasses and an Amish beard† (DeLillo 10). He’s hairy, but does not have a moustache, only a beard. He dresses almost entirely in corduroy. He likes his men simple and his women complicated. He â€Å"is trying to develop a vulnerability that women will find attractive† (DeLillo 21), but so far has only managed to create sneaky and lecherous expression. For him, sex seems very matter-of-fact, like a business transaction. Just flat out lust. He even reads a magazine called American Transvestite. Murray is, by his own admission, â€Å"a solitary crank who marrons himself with a TV set and dozens of stacks of dust-jacketed comic books† (DeLillo 52). He shares a house across the street from an insane asylum with boarders who seem like they ought to be confined there too. Not that he minds, though. He’s â€Å"totally captivated and intrigued †¦ totally enamored of †¦ the small town setting† (DeLillo 10). At first, Murray seems like a deep person with interesting quirks (he takes pleasure in sniffing food labels in the supermarket). He’s deeper than the other pop culture professors who read nothing but cereal boxes and have food fights while discussing the culture of public toilets and reminiscing where they were when James Dean died. Murray has theories. Lots of theories. In an odd way, some of them make sense. For exa... ...mps out the fragments of Jack’s mind and fills it with his own devious thoughts. Jack is not a killer, and under normal circumstances Jack would never have been a killer. Murray is a killer, if just psychologically. He proves it once and for all when he forces Jack to â€Å"elicit the truths [he] already possess† (DeLillo 293), that a dier can become a killer. He disguises himself - â€Å"I’m only a visiting lecturer. I theorize, I take walks, I admire trees and houses† (DeLillo 293), and prefaces nearly every sentence with â€Å"in theory† or â€Å"theoretically† but he knows what the outcome will be. When Jack shoots Willie Mink, Murray is as guilty as if he pulled the trigger himself. Murray probably hoped Jack would be sent to prison for shooting Willie, freeing up Babette for himself. I stated in the beginning that Murray was cunning. People who are cunning possess a strong ability to mesmerize and manipulate. They can, on some levels, seem very logical. Hitler is often described as a cunning man. Murray is not wise. Murray is bad. He manipulated minds, he played with peoples’ lives. In hindsight none of it worked out in his favor, but that doesn’t change that facts. It was an evil thing to do.

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