Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Park

Here Robert and Gloria discuss where they are from (Arkansas and Texas, respectively) and we are able to get a sense of how far they have come.

The park is also a kind of escape for Robert. Even though it is in the middle of a giant, bustling city, he is able to relax there under false pretenses of "security." The contrast between the safe seclusion of the park and the urban aura of the city around it is another juxtaposition that we see continuously in Robert's life. His idea of a "private island" is really just another deflated dream; in reality he only has a tiny, public park.

"I was glad she wanted to go to the park. It was always nice there. It was very small, only one block square, but it was very dark and very quiet and filled with dense shubbery. All around it palm trees grew up, fifty, sixty feet tall, suddenly tufted at the top. Once you entered the park you had the illusion of security. I often imagined they were sentries wearing grotesque helmets: my own private sentries, standing guard over my own private island..." (9)


L.A. Stories said...

Even though Robert claims that the park offers him “the illusion of security” I would say instead that it offers him real security…at least mentally. Within the book, we see examples of the phoniness that is pervasive throughout the city, and I think that it becomes impossible to separate the “real” from the “fake.” When everything is masquerading for something else, at what point does it just become the thing that it is trying to mimic? In a version of L.A. where a camera and a gun are interchangeable, the supposedly sacred event of marriage is a stunt, and everyone is hanging around sound stages (mock reality) trying to make a living pretending to be someone or something else, imagining the park as a “private island” isn’t so strange or sad or unusual. Maybe the camera and the gun really are the same. Those people certainly do end up, legally at least, married. And you really are getting paid for a job you’re doing (acting) even if you don’t actually know how to do the thing that you are portraying. There is a lot of blurring between reality and unreality, which gets pointed out with the scene in the park, but by no means is limited to it.

L.A. Stories said...