Monday, February 16, 2009

They Who Do Not Grieve

Matt Bochniak
They Who Do Not Grieve
Lit. Analysis

This was a very interesting book to read. “They Who Do Not Grieve”, by Sia Figiel, was written in a very feminine point of view. The stories in this book revolve around Lalolagi and Tausi’s tattoo experience. Lalolagi’s tattoo was never finished due to her body rejecting the ink. Because of that, Lalolagi faces shame and grief throughout the book.

Both Tausi and Lalolagi, childhood friends, were going to have their thighs tattooed. “But unlike Tausi, who finished the operation, my grandmother woke up suddenly to find that the fish, the starfish, the spear, the centipede did not take to her flesh.” (p 6) The location of the tattoo was very interesting. In our American culture, getting your thigh tattooed is not common. The objects that they are getting tattooed are important parts of Samoan life and their natural surroundings.

In grieving, Lalolagi would see the ghost of her daughter Mary. “Each time Lalolagi saw Mary, she would be silent for days. Not eat her food. She would just sit in the middle of the house and look out to the sea.” (p 99) I feel that her grief is symbolic for her failure of getting a tattoo. Having a tattoo symbolizes their strong ties to Samoan culture. Having Lalolagi’s body reject the ink has to be linked with a rejection of one’s culture.

My feelings are sort of opposite to the feelings of Lalolagi. Most of my friends have tattoos. I personally have none. My friends have always questioned the fact why I don’t have any tattoos. I have toured with national metal acts (that all have tattoos), worked with professional football players (who all have tattoos), and play hockey (most hockey players have tattoos). The real reason is a fear of commitment. In Lalolagi’s case she wanted a tattoo, however I really don’t. She grieves and I’m happy with not having one.

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