Inner Self In Joe Hill's Short Story 'Pop Art'

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Joe Hill’s short story “Pop Art” explores the relationship between inner and outer self and one’s ability to express oneself, looking at these issues through the lens of characters’ conflicts with society and symbolism. The unnamed narrator, his inflatable friend Art, and their antagonists enact the conflicts of being socially targeted for weakness, and being misunderstood and unheard. One of the most crucial points “Pop Art’” delves into is the difference between how a person is viewed by others and who the person is inside—the author uses this dichotomy to show how dishonest about ourselves we are and how we are judged for who we appear to be. The narrator takes direct control of the former by influencing how his peers see him, “cultivating…show more content…
For Art, this barrier is his fragility and silence. His inability to speak symbolizes how others refuse to understand him. Those characteristics make it more difficult to be friends with him than it would be to befriend a flesh-and-blood person. In Art’s case, his condition of inflatability engenders a dislike of the unfamiliar in others. For this reason, it is easier for someone to merely make assumptions based on Art’s outward appearance and behavior than to put in the effort to foster a real relationship and become informed on his condition. Throughout the story, characters demonstrate this unwillingness to hear Art, whether it is Cassius Delamitri getting sick of Art’s friendly advances and tying him around a chair leg (Hill, pg. 68), or the narrator’s father belligerently misinterpreting Art’s contributions to their conversations as insults (Hill, pg. . 71). The narrator describes it as a “special something that just made other kids naturally want to kick his ass” (Hill, pg. 66). Nothing else about Art except for his condition clues the reader in on what it is about Art that could possibly be making people feel so negative towards Art, leading to the conclusion that there is nothing drawing such disdain to Art but his differences and a mistrust of the unknown. It is not uncommon for this kind of mistrust to appear in other ways in the world, though Art’s inflatability is an extreme that illustrates the symbolic silence and misunderstanding of minorities and the unfamiliar. In my own ways, I’ve experienced this kind of discrimination or avoidance because of my blindness. Admittedly, I’ve never been mistreated in the same way that Art had to endure from antagonists, but I can certainly relate to Art’s difficulty in making friends. In my case, I’ve encountered people who are uncomfortable being around a blind person because they
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