For this blox I focused on Seger’s focus on creating a coherent style when adapting a piece. The lack of lightness in the story, and the building weight and pressure on the characters was a very apparent style choice made by Malamud. I wanted to depict this in my box.
Seger notes that the mood creates an emotional response. By creating a heavy mood I am hoping to elicit a feeling of pressure and restriction with my blox. The picture of the broken tombstone and the dark figures bending over due to the pressure of life all helped to create the mood. It is difficult to translate a written mood created by words into a visual mood. However, I took Malamud’s frequent images of tombstones and weight and visually showed them in my blox. I like that the person is not an actual image of a person, but simply a silhouette. Not only does this allow the person to see themselves in the image, but also creates a darker mood. Silhouettes are mysterious and ambiguous. There is uncertainty in a silhouette.
Morris Bober is carrying a lot on his back.
My blox for lightness has the shadow of a man that is carrying many things on his back. Among them are a bottle of milk, a roll, a bird, a star of David, and a cup of tea. Each of these represent something that is weighing Morris Bober down. Every morning he wakes up at 4a to give an old woman a roll for 3 cents. Ida, his wife, is always complaining that waking up that early is not worth the 3 extra cents. But Morris does it anyway. He invites a stranger, Frank Alpine, into his life and trusts him with everything that he has. Frank is represented by the bird, because he loved St. Francis of Assisi. And the star of David dangles as a representation of the struggles Morris has gone through from just being Jewish. The cup of tea represents the kindness that Morris has shown to all of his neighbors over the years, even when they have shown him no kindness. The shadow of the man progresses forward, however the man remains in the same position, never changing. Morris is weighed down throughout the whole book, unable to change positions. In the background is a broken tombstone. The tombstone alludes to many things. First, another thing thing that weights Morris down is his frequent thoughts about the loss of his son. Also, Morris’ store is compared to a grave many times throughout the book. And finally, Morris dies at the end of the book. All of these stresses lead to eventual death. He is never able to break free of these pressures.
Cornell used his boxes to try to make sense of his life and better understand it. As I created this blox on lightness, I reflected on my own struggles. As I am graduating in two weeks, I have many pressures on my back right now. I don’t know what I am going to do once I graduate, or where I will work. This blox made me reflect on not only my own pressures, but how I will deal with them. I don’t want to let these things weigh me down and effect me the way they did Morris.
The world suffers. He felt every schmerz
Calvino views lightness as a good quality.
So, does Malamud. Unfortunately, none of Malamud’s characters are able to experience lightness. They are all weighed down by the pressures of their lives. Instead Malamud uses light’s opposite, heaviness, to express the frustrations of his character’s lives.
Breitbart is a bulb peddler. He comes to visit Morris often to take a break from his exhausting day. Morris always pours him a cup of tea and offers him a place to sit. Bulbs are not heavy, they are very light. Malamud writes that all that holds the crates of bulbs together is clothesline. However, the man is weighed down by all of his bulbs. The characters cannot handle dealing with the day-to-day situations of life.
Morris is frequently concerned about how his business is bring in no money and lamenting over the death of his son many years ago.
Throughout the book, many characters, including Morris, describe his store as “a tomb”. They warn Frank Alpine to not start working there, because he will probably never leave.
Unlike Calvino’s depiction of lightness, where the man nimbly leaps over the tombstone, instead the Bober Family cannot jump over this tombstone. They are stuck in the tomb, weighed down by their economic situation and grief over the loss of a son. They are unable to set themselves free of the worries of the world.