|Essay type:||Book review|
|Categories:||Women Character analysis Books Writers|
The Return of Machado's Favorite Eight Bites is a sixth-story collection with a narrator who is an unnamed female. There is one jarring distinction with the arrival of the style to comfort the rest of other stories by Machado. The collection is the first that features no male characters but rather women without any sons, boyfriends, or husbands. The narration between the nurse in the present period and the narrator's doctor thrusts readers into discussion seemingly in the middle of a surgical operation. The woman in the story who is insecure undergoes bariatric surgery. With the disapproval of the daughter Cal, the woman is ecstatic to join her three sisters, who additionally did undergo this surgery. Throughout the story, an uneasy relationship stunts the narrator blaming Cal for her body. The narrator's mother practiced a habit of eating only eight bites of food in mealtime, a disordered practice making her slender. The narrator, after the surgery, follows her mother's footsteps, and an entity begins to silk its way to her life when the old body vanishes until her death.
The arrival of the entity embraces and takes the narrator away, creating acute tension in the surgery while the relationship with her body creates chronic stress. A fantastical metaphor is what the story exemplifies to divulge significance rooted in reality. The entity drives the story as an apparent controlling metaphor that signifies the previous body of the narrator. The daughter's body is also represented, and throughout time, this may present every woman's body in the world. The daughter implies in the statement, "She will outlive my daughter, and my daughter's daughter and the earth will teem with her and her kind, their inscrutable forms and unknowable destinies" (Machado 12). Childlike terms are in the description by the entity whereby they signify the narrator's role of negligence to her own body and the daughter as a mother. The resentment of the narrator's daughter's body and own body link the entity as a physical manifestation. The narrator parallels her surgery not only by beating the object into submission when she lashes out but also reveals resentment for ruining her body towards the daughter, therefore, beating her body into submission. The sisters have distinct natures to their entities serving different purposes and implying universal to women by their multiplicity of them.
There is a kind of contrite ghost in this story with the female body or the entity haunting the narrator with its plea for approval, care, and mercy. There is a reversal of entity roles when the narrator apologizes to it. An exteriorized version of self-hatred presents itself by the female surgeon to her subjects when she performs the procedure. She implies that the surgeries will fund a getaway for a vacation and discusses this during the operation. The woman hates her body, which results in binge eating, and she begins to consider the surgery the notice of the other sisters. The sisters have grown slender because of bariatric surgery, even though they did not have a wasting disease. Quantitatively, they are indeed ill in their ways and mentally ill towards their bodies because of an unhealthy attitude. The narrator's decision to follow the sisters is because of the rave results of the surgery.
The entity is no longer begging for forgiveness from the narrator, hiding beneath the floorboards or leaving offerings, but it recognizes the failure of the narrator as a custodian. The entity will never forsake her because it is her body; therefore, it forgives her. The narrator claims the existence will outlive her and overrun of the earth will be immortalized with their neglect, and everywhere there will be neglected bodies of women. There is the removal of women from their destinies by ignoring them and forever leaving them to wonder. The belief might represent ideals that manifest long after death into children's minds with a hate of our bodies through passing this notion onto the children. The controlling metaphor serves the story well through Machado's artful craft, and it never feels forced. The female body articulates elegantly by Machado's recognition of it as a driving metaphor to exemplify her ideas and, to a certain extent, is haunting. The features of the story in today's world convey the perils of being a woman with a preying means of insecurity invoking more bodily forms. The narrator's consciousness silences women by the surgeon's quip return to the woman in surgery to be quiet or cut her tongue silencing women in a patriarchal society. The sister's act does not relieve them of the burden of obsession with food but might prevent them from eating; therefore, the solution of surgery does not bring happiness to the issues that prompt it.
The story additionally produces metaphors concerning food. As the constant narrator's source of conflict, food plays a crucial role in a more compelling context to make it a metaphor. Representation of the narrator's failures begins with food for her achievements, which represents her body. The narrator's foods such as fruits and oysters are frequently associated with her body. Paralleling the description of the surgery, the narrator with her hands takes a grapefruit apart as post-surgery. The story states, "Eventually I take a knife and lop off domes of rinds and cut the grapefruit into a cube before ripping it open with my fingers. It feels like I am dismantling a human heart" (Machado 9). The narrator trails a direct parallel entity with the oysters as they resist the narrator, alive and nevertheless just brainless muscle. In the world, food is an important issue, especially in womanhood, because of its direct connection with control and lack of control that comes with it the body. To control the organization of the body is to control food because a person becomes what they eat. After the surgery, the narrator becomes iron-willed with eight bites; she befits like her mother and becomes an ascetic woman. The deeds that she sought afterward make her the image of control. The woman in question is allowed to be hungry only at the end of her life; therefore, she awakes before her death hungry. There is the infusion of food with everything else by Machado Eight Bites in recognition of relationships, the body, womanhood, and language.
The real ghost is self-inflicted violence and expression in the story's supernatural element that haunts her post-surgery. A phantom is in discovered in the basement as she hears strange noises in the household. She is declared to have soft indents as she kneels next to a body with no bones, no mouth, and no stomach, nothing it needs, but she is real. Fat is the ghost within its interrogating vision and soft body that was rid of by the narrator. The unpleasant surgery effects and self-hatred haunt her in a residue for not finding a way to love her. The entity is in response to the narrator brutally beating her and telling her she is unwanted. Later the narrator does not encounter her face to face but hears her occasionally, and the ghost will then come for her until the day she dies. The situation is an inscrutable and impressionistic description conveying the essence of immortality. The principle is a common idea to Judeo-Christian beliefs that comprise of eternal love in which people survive. With a capacity for pleasure, life consists of mortal bodies and is a gift. The countless women and the narrator's story eschew the function of life by denying their being and aspects of their vitality. As an apology to her, the narrator concludes with an excuse to the ghost for rejecting life's abundance.
The writing of Eight Bites reveals a more profound nature of the change to a character woman that undergoes psychological and physical alteration from the previous manifestation of self. The author Machado follows the women throughout the story and uses controlling metaphors in the writing of the story. The predominant metaphor grows as the story progresses, engrossing the line between fantasy and realism. However, with reality, the story does not lose touch by the fact that the controlling metaphor element assists the emergence of truth in the story to reveal meaning. There is an element of pleasure in Machado's stories with political and formal complexities, especially in women's lives. The story is a beautiful evocation of women's complexity in joy with vitality for the fullness of life.
Machado, Carmen Maria. Her Body and Other Parties: Stories. Graywolf Press, 2017.
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