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Yellow man

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 956
  • Category: Suicide

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Sometimes, one’s problems can get so much out of hand that they will slowly build up to be a massive blockage in one’s life. In Peter Carty’s short story yellow, we hear about Jon a man who generally is not happy with his current life situation. He is dealing with a lot of problems, and instead of coping with them he chooses to escape from them.

Jon is said to be a man in his late thirties, yet still looking fit. “He was overweight but in good physical condition for someone pushing forty.” He works for a London magazine, which has sent him to Egypt to scuba-dive and write about it afterwards. He does not like his job at all, as he hated anything active or sporty. Even though he takes the course, he is so scared of drowning, and convinces himself that he cannot go through with it. His relationship with his girlfriend is also growing stale, “The silences between them had multiplied, then lengthened into an empty continuum.” Basically, everything in his life is described in a negative manner. Jon is also hearing a negative voice that keeps telling him he is yellow. He wants to ignore the voice, but the voice is still having a negative impact on him, as he lets it taunt him. Jon is a solitary man as there is one other guy in his group, but they do not talk to each other at all through the course. As his life is one big mess, he drinks to escape all his problems, and as a way to cope with it. Still, no matter how much he drank he was haunted and tormented by his problems. “He poured more gin, but no matter how much he swallowed it was never enough.”

The themes in this short story cover suicide, fear and loneliness. Every time he has to dive he immediately starts thinking about drowning, and he thinks of it as being devoured by a big emptiness. The instructor tells him: “You know, you are very close to your panic level underwater,” which supports that he is very scared of being underwater. Despite the fact that he has a girlfriend, relatives and friends, he is hiding inside of himself. Not even the guy on his course, Brian is of any interest to Jon as they have nothing in common. He therefore chooses to live in solitude inside of himself, instead of being happy with what he has. This is what in the ends leads him to commit suicide, so he can get rid of all his stress and anxieties.

The title “Yellow” is referring to the voice who keeps telling him that he is yellow. “Yellow, yellow, yellow. Yellow as the desert sand.” The voice taunts him, and it reflects all the negativity that is going on in his life.

One of the most important symbols in the text is actually the title itself, “yellow.” Yellow is a colour that has a lot of different symbolic meanings, and it is also known to many negative associations such as jealousy, cowardice, aging, illness, boredom and mediocrity. All of these meanings actually have an influence in the text. “He envied Brian his calm, the methodical way he assembled and clambered into the gear.” This passage of the text shows that he envies Brian, and the way he is said to be aging is described as if his life is going by without him. He is lagging behind. In general there is not really much imagery except for that.

The story takes place in Egypt, where there is a lot of desert and sand. This also fits with the ongoing theme of loneliness, and the theme yellow, with the deserts as a symbol of something deserted. The voice in his head also refers to the Egypt ”Yellow, yellow, yellow. Yellow as the desert sand.” He is afraid of failing, and being yellow. The voice keeps pushing into his head that he is yellow. That is also the reason why he pushes himself to go through with the diving. “Water, solid water, unbelievable. Gel flowing in and solidifying, the others hovering in supplication. Motionless. Another desperate try, and there was nothing other than water in his world.” He describes how the water fills his whole world when he is descending into the water, in a way that makes it seem scary.

The text is written chronologically, and there is no use of flashbacks and it has a closed ending. It left the reader in no doubt of what is going to happen. The style of the text is very simple and defragmented. The language used involves direct speech such as when the instructor says, “One of the first things we’ll do is clear the mask. To do this you tilt your head up and blow out through your nose.”, also the author does not hold back when it comes to swearing, an example in the text could be, “It was very important not to fuck up – a simple error could be disastrous.” The narrator is omniscient but limited to Jon, as we do not hear anyone but his thoughts.

In the end where he decides to end his life, there is a turning point. He used to be so scared of drowning; scared of death, but yet he decides to jump, and take out the mouthpiece. He wants to show the world that he indeed was not yellow. One could argue whether his action proves he is taking control of his life and finally doing something instead of being a coward, or if he is just taking the big leap of cowardice by killing himself.

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