The Visual Strategy of “Separate Kingdoms”
In a piece of writing, visual strategies are occasionally used in order to give a message to readers. In the story “Separate Kingdoms” by Valerie Laken, she utilizes specific visual strategies to emphasize her purpose efficiently. What Laken tries to say in this story is how separated family understands each other and comes together. In order to support her purpose, she organizes her story with column-bridges to connect two-columns to show the family separation and the process that the family overcomes their situation.
Expressing the process, in “Separate Kingdoms,” two columns are seen every single page. Laken applies separated narrative techniques, two different narrative modes and contents, to each column. One of the columns is described by the third person point of view to figure out the facts that Colt has troubles because he was cut his thumbs off by machine of the factory. She focuses on father’s story in the field of narrating. Another column is depicted by son’s angle, Jack’s. Jack talks how father’s accident affects his life, and shows how the other family members suffer from the condition. These obvious separated columns by different perspectives represent the distance that the family does not have any specific link mentally. Definitely, the narrative separation emphasizes the absence of emotional connections each family member.
The content is divided into the side of a human and that of an animal. Despite of the fact that he cannot control remote control easily, Colt always stays in the room as he watches on TV program, Animal Planet, comparing himself with the poor animals. On the contrary Colt, Jack stays in the basement, playing Xbox and the drums. This is the content of “Separate Kingdoms”. Unfortunately, Colt cannot play the game with his son because of the absence of thumbs. “’You know what separates us from the animals?’ …’Opposable thumbs.’”(Laken, 12) Father thinks he belongs to an animal group after losing his thumbs. The most notable difference between a human and an animal is whether or not thumbs are controlled freely. With handling thumbs, a human can control the technology of civilization and enjoy it. Technology is the key to distinguish between a human and an animal. In this story, Colt cannot control the remote control easily, while Jack is good at Xbox without any restriction. Technology is the metaphor as a medium to divide Colt’s family into different groups.
From the separation, the family lives individually. Colt usually stays upstairs and son has his life in the basement. Through the column bridges, however, Laken implies there are clues that they still have connections. The bridges take a role to connect the separated columns. The column bridges also hint that the family is not entirely split into two groups yet. Jack’s drum sound connects two columns. Like the drum sound, the writer inserts another column bridge to make readers imagine the arguing scene by Colt and his wife, “‘You take it, then,’ he shouts, wishing he could throw something. ‘Take it! Take the goddamn money and the little drummer boy and drive yourselves straight to paradise, set yourselves up! I’m fine right here.’” (Laken 11) That quotation links two columns to show Jack is listening father’s shouting. Through the column bridges that represent sound symbolize the family’s feeling and the atmosphere of rising conflict. Even though the two sounds can be a negative connection, the family notices the existence each other. Thus, family members sense that they are always being together unconsciously. Cooking without thumbs, moreover, wife and son understand Colt’s situation. The author does not clearly tell readers that Colt still cares about his family, but it is conveyed in the conversation that Colt has with a lawyer at the very end of the story. Colt says that “Eddie here couldn’t find his own turd in a sandbox,” but he “used to guard Jack’s cradle like the Secret Service.”(Laken, 18) This phrase lets readers show a connection between Colt and Eddie from the similarities of their behaviors. Although Colt cannot find his own senses to help himself, he still cares for and wishes to protect his own family.
In conclusion, by using the column bridges, Laken evidently expresses how much hard time Colt’s family have and how they overcome their problems. Ultimately, the visual strategy, the column bridges, tries to take the gap away in Colt’s family by connecting the two stories seen separately and the separation of Colt family. In writing, it is hard to simultaneously demonstrate a visual scene with an aural effect. However, if the column bridge is used with consisting of columns in writing, it is possible to provide several experience for readers at the same time. The column bridge makes writing more expressive and conveys a vivid scene to readers. In “Separate Kingdoms” by Valery Laken, she takes the advantage of the effect of the column bridge. Moreover, the column bridge in her writing functions to appeal to serve the link of family members’ emotion.