It’s as if the “centerlessness” of the girl’s marred vision has come into a metaphorical clash with the magistrate’s desire to uncover the whole truth of the past. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. The magistrate’s encounter with the buck is unique because of the power which its gaze commands. Thus the magistrate’s life remains divorced from its past ease and uneventful innocence. ISBN-13: 9781594203473 Summary Winner, 2016 Pulitizer Prize - Biography A deeply rendered self-portrait of a lifelong surfer by the acclaimed New Yorker writer. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. Further, the magistrate’s command that the girl populate the fort reflects his desire for her to re-animate his life again; but, his mouth sealed, the magistrate is unable to dictate such a purpose to the girl. The magistrate seems to be finally unleashing all of his pent-up rage at the Empire’s anti-barbarian military enterprise. Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. Finnegan states that surfers are perfectionists.
This effect of winter therefore reflects the cyclical time of the rotating seasons, which the magistrate thinks is on a different register than that of human history. As we later learn, she has already been sleeping with several soldiers in order to make money. Barbarian Days is William Finnegan's memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Taking the guards under the sway of his own authority, Joll has tried to instill a certain blindness (the blindness of duty) in the magistrate—to create a barrier between him and the truth of his torture practices. Here, the magistrate’s earlier fantasy about burying the barbarian prisoners in order to erase their testament to the Empire’s cruelty from history reappears, and is expressed in his desire to rid her from public sight. The power of buck’s gaze stops the magistrate in his tracks and suspends him in time. LitCharts Teacher Editions.

His drive to hunt then drops away and feels like an alien force, like he hadn’t been directing his life on his “own terms.” This alien drive to hunt mirrors his sexual lust for the girl, though she never captivates him in an instant of empathy like the ram. Yet though the magistrate gets factual information about the girl’s blinding, he still wants to know about her own psychological reaction to the event. Earlier, the magistrate said that he prefers to “struggle with the old story” and unearth its whole meaning, but it seems that his sexuality sometimes becomes unhinged from the “story” driving his lust.

The magistrate’s odd trance suggests that there’s something peculiarly soothing, and perhaps sexually pleasant, about massaging the girl—yet this also becomes a strange sort of ritual, a kind of “othering” and fetishizing of the seemingly impenetrable surface of the girl. Barbarian Days is a beautiful memoir. This instance could be read as a symptom of Joll’s influence—perhaps the magistrate now feels that he has to adhere to the official, technical mandates of the law, whereas before he interpreted and applied them more loosely.

The barbarian girl’s bizarre gesture might be read as a response to what she perceives as an offer for prostitution by the magistrate. The magistrate’s fascination with the marks on the girl’s body reflects his desire to struggle with the past until its history and “truth” is revealed and becomes accessible. Teachers and parents! It’s as if the unfolding of the magistrate and the girl’s desire have operated on two distinct timelines, and the magistrate has failed to be sympathetic to this. As we see later, this side of his personality will bloom into the conflict he encounters with his sexuality—a conflict which exposes how, despite the magistrate’s sense of civility, there’s a monstrousness in his behavior that resonates with the way Joll views the barbarians.

Above all else, he describes the joys, perils, and zen of the surfer’s path in elegant and profound ways. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our. Instant downloads of all 1372 LitChart PDFs (including Waiting for the Barbarians). They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. The barbarian girl’s need to look sideways in order to see symbolizes the effects of Joll’s torture—that she’ll never be able to see the world again the same way—but also the way her sense of sight differs from Joll’s. Further, that the magistrate finds it frustrating that he can’t say anything certain about the barbarian girl testifies to the failure of his quest to unearth the truth of her history, untainted by her scars. (including. Further, the magistrate’s acknowledgement that the girl might find him to be as equally ordinary as he finds her suggests that he’s finally begun to stop othering her—that he’s begun to see her as someone as equally perceptive as himself. This power-play adds another dimension to the theme of blindness. The conversation ends on a bitter note, and the. Despite the magistrate’s sense of disgust at informing the barbarian girl of the fort’s vagrancy ordinances, he nevertheless goes through with it. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. The magistrate, however, seems bolder in the face of authority now, and is more willing to avow the barbarians’ way of life as something with its own integrity regardless of its difference from life in the Empire’s society. In this memoir, Finnegan describes a lifetime of looking for waves and looking for himself. Here, the magistrate makes a very significant connection: his manner of searching for an entry into some hidden recess upon the surface of the barbarian girl is perhaps analogous to the way her torturers treated her. The magistrate doesn’t yet seem to recognize that his own way of thinking about the girl actively frames her as an inaccessible Other. My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class.”, LitCharts uses cookies to personalize our services. The magistrate’s quest to unravel the history of the girl’s scars advances, as she finally describes how she was blinded. Our, LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in. Here, an aspect of the magistrate’s personality that contradicts his usual sense of civility appears: a confused and uncontrollable sexuality. What’s most bold is his explicitly anti-Empire wish that the barbarians would counteract the Empire militarily and succeed, teaching them a “lesson.” The magistrate’s defense of the barbarians’ territory as their proper home, and as a foreign land in which the Empire is nothing but a collection of outsiders, further condemns the way the Empire “others” the barbarians in order to stake a claim to their own identity—to their own sense of belonging in the region as mere settlers. Further, that the guard didn’t know of the girl’s blindness until after the act shows how Joll has tried to balance keeping both the guards and the magistrate uninformed. I don't know the others, but he certainly is … Penguin Random House, 2015. This conflicts with his compassion for the barbarians as well as his commitment to not covering up the truth.
Once the magistrate meets the staring face of the ram, it seems to become equally alive, no longer a mere animal to be shot unthinkingly. The magistrate’s initial encounter with the barbarian girl seems to be more motivated by his desire to prevent his settlement from becoming a haven for beggars than by any sense of charity. Whereas he feels unable to become entirely connected with, or lost within, the body of the barbarian girl, the girl at the inn does not appear as such an Other to the magistrate. Despite knowing that the girl is a victim of Joll’s, the magistrate first acts as if the girl is herself responsible for being on the streets. Alternately, it might reference the torture she suffered under Joll. Further, his desire to dredge up an image of the girl before she was tortured resonates with his desire to struggle with and uncover the history of the past, which appears here in the form of an obsession. LitCharts Teacher Editions. His interest in surfing starts at a very young age in California and becomes a real passion when his family moves to Hawaii when he is in middle school. The dream’s depiction of the snow castle as unpopulated might represent the magistrate’s feeling that the town is no longer full of life—that, since Joll’s arrival, the ease and vibrancy of the settlement’s atmosphere has devolved into dread. That the barbarian girl continues to build a town devoid of life in the magistrate’s dream suggests that he views the social atmosphere of his settlement as lacking a certain intensity or vivacity stolen by Joll. Yet this lack of animation is precisely what he perceives in the barbarian girl. Struggling with distance learning?

The guard adds that, after the interrogation, the. Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else entirely: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. He divides his memoir into chapters that describe different epochs of his life and his approach to surfing at that time. Wanting and not wanting the girl, the magistrate’s sexuality is starting to assert itself as an alien force. Though the magistrate’s sexuality has already played a role in the novel during his visits to the girl at the inn, the sexual drive he presents here feels distinctly more visceral, uncontrolled, and confused, suggesting the surfacing of a heretofore unexplored side of his personality. Whereas Joll would leave the two corpses to rot without a proper burial, the magistrate insists that even deserters deserve to be buried. The magistrate is still entangled in his attempts to both understand why he’s attracted to the barbarian girl and to find something in her history—a lost personality—that will justify and give spark to his desire. It’s as if the girl’s ability, in the dream, to build—to give life to—something without life represents the ambivalence the magistrate sees in her persona. Print Word PDF. The ambivalence which constitutes the magistrate’s conflict with his own sexual drives comes to a new pinnacle here. Even though Colonel Joll hasn’t been at the settlement for two months, his brooding sense of intimidation (especially as a representative of the faceless and seemingly all-powerful Empire) still lingers and affects how the magistrate’s own men relate with and talk to him. Ironically, unlike his real life efforts to connect with the girl, the magistrate’s (vocal) severance from her in the dream lets the animated vivacity he longs to see in her appear upon her surface, since she can’t be told to redirect it to the fort—the magistrate’s life—itself. William Finnegan . Instant downloads of all 1373 LitChart PDFs