Quarantine By Alix Ohlin Analysis

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Is Ignorance Always Bliss?

Does knowing that one can control their own behaviour make it more likely that they will do so? In the short story, “Quarantine”, author Alix Ohlin illustrates the difference between self-awareness and oblivion, and how both characteristics can affect personal relationships. Ohlin portrays the idea that there are generally two types of people in life, those who are aware of their identity and those who are not aware, and that a person’s identity impacts the way others see them. The first type of person that Ohlin depicts is those who are conscious of their identity and can therefore alter it when need be. For example, the reader sees the protagonist, Bridget, change her identity to her benefit throughout the story.
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Ohlin describes this transition in one sentence: “[Bridget] went to law school and made new friends and when she graduated she got a job in labor relations for a midsized corporation” (5). Ohlin proves that such a tragedy allows Bridget to grab a hold of her life and grow up. As a result, Bridget is able to realize the flaws in herself and change her identity into one completely opposite from her adventuresome identity from the beginning of the story in order to grow up. Ohlin writes in relation to Bridget’s newfound individuality, “[Bridget] was not unhappy. She liked being an adult, being good at her job, owning a car, painting the walls of her apartment on a Saturday afternoon. She didn’t know why she ever resisted it” (5). Bridget uses her identity as a way to adapt to her new life. She realizes she needs to act her age, therefore she changes who she is to adapt to adult life. Like most new experiences in life, adopting a new identity feels uncomfortable to Bridget at first, but she adapts as time goes on (4-6). To Bridget, at first, it feels phony and a bit like she is just blindly stumbling through life not knowing who exactly she is. The reader sees bits of…show more content…
The antagonist, Angela, suffers from this. In the beginning, Angela cares for Bridget and takes her under her wing (2). About Angela and her German boyfriend, Ohlin writes, “They liked to make a fuss over people and put on elaborate dinner parties, and then they’d get drunk and spend the night bickering. It was tedious, and yet you had to indulge them, because you could see how much they enjoyed it, this performance of adulthood” (2). By this, Ohlin shows how Angela, initially, is aware of how she portrays herself to others; she puts on an act and pretends to be an adult. However, as the story goes on, Angela becomes less and less self aware, and therefore loses her ability to alter her identity to the benefit of herself and others. Angela grows sicker throughout the course of the story until the very end where she is living in isolation, without any electricity, and is too weak to eat or walk (12). Ohlin shows the deterioration of Angela over time with every meeting between Angela and Bridget after their time together in Barcelona. It starts off with the organic recipes on facebook (7). Then, when Angela and Bridget meet at the hotel in Ottawa to catch-up, Angela tells Bridget about her cognitive impairment and says, “I am in a fog most of the time” (8). Next, Angela’s facebook posts change to “alternative health and new age spirituality” (9). Ohlin writes, “[Angela]
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