Red Peter Influence On Society

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The Cage that is Society Red Peter struggles to fit into human society, but is too much of a human to simply become an ape again, a struggle that defines him. He makes a report to the “Honored Members of the Academy” by giving them a history of his journey from ape to man: It is now nearly five years since I was an ape, a short space of time, perhaps, according to the calendar, but an infinitely long time to gallop through at full speed, as I have done. (250) Red does not conceptualize time as a human would; instead he employs metaphors to describe what he has been told is “nearly five years” (250). His perception of the past and present is different than a human’s. He sees the last in terms of physical space, “a short space of time” (250).…show more content…
He has “become less cynical about the performance” he stages (Goffman 20). Unfortunately, as he betrayed his ape nature, his ape nature betrayed him. He can no longer seamlessly go back to living as an ape after embracing human comfort. Red Peter has a complex relationship with humanity; on one hand, he appreciates society but on the other he despises it. The strong wind, which symbolizes his desire to be an ape, has become a “gentle puff of air” (250). The puff of air showcases that the last of his ape nature lingers while he suppresses it in order to meet human expectation. The air “plays around [his] heels,” barely noticeable to him anymore. His diction, however, leaves room for a different interpretation. Red specifies that only his heels feel this wind, softly alluding to the Achilles’ heel paradox. He names the one part of the body that led to Achilles’ downfall, signifying that this lingering ape nature, just “a gentle puff of air,” holds the potential to destroy his…show more content…
This contradiction between the story and his words reveals that his storytelling ability is predicated on his flowery language. Red Peter’s acknowledgement of enjoying “expressing” himself “in images,” an inherently human characteristic, serves to showcase that he enjoys some aspects of human society. He further parallels apes and humans by bringing up their shared ancestry as primates, which “lies behind” both humans and, according to Peter, himself. Red Peter employs subtle parallelism between apes and humans in order to persuade the audience that he is too is a human despite his apelike appearance. His subtle argument becomes more pronounced as he continues: “Yet everyone on earth feels a tickling at the heels, the small chimpanzee and the great Achilles alike” (250). Red makes a comparison between humanity and chimpanzee by referencing Achilles’ more directly this time. He points out how both humans and apes feel “a tickling at the heels,” drawing a stronger connection between the two species. Red Peter speaks in a manner that is more figurative and superfluous than most humans, almost like a caricature. He overcompensates for the inconsistency between his appearance and manner in his front, all in an attempt to escape “a new cage” (258). By becoming like a human, however, Red ends up fitting into a cage after all:
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