Bukowski Self-Exploration in Bluebird
Many times, the changes and transformations in the main character are shown as being caused partly by the world around him, sometimes making the main character even a victim of society. 1 Something causes the character to become morally prepared or emotionally wrecked and cut off, usually due to something that has happened in his life. These protagonists watch the world around them and feel disconnected from it, and act out with “taboo” themes, like violence or incest or taking drugs or anything that sort of pushes the line because the world they live in has disturbed their minds in some way. 3 Finding life empty and without value, the main character does things to numb the pain, like drinking too hard, or having a lot of meaningless and casual sex, or anything else that both cuts off his emotions and also test him feel pleasure and distraction for a minute. This is called escapism, as in indulging in meaningless distractions to forget about the root problems in someone’s life. But the main character often actually has a conscience, or at least a deeper sense of self, and that part of him is in conflict with the way he is behaving outwardly, so this is where the pain and despair comes from and which we see in transgressing fiction, whether it is in novels or in poems. 3 The themes of transgressing fiction are all over Bouzouki’s work. 1 His writings mostly cover the second half of the twentieth entry, and he drew on Los Angles as a source of inspiration. Since he spent most of his life in Los Angles, he identified with the city darkness and grittiness. 6 A lot of the transgressing fiction qualities in Bouzouki’s poems are in his escapism from reality. He writes about drinking and women and gambling, and he lived his life chasing women, drinking and gambling. 5 Through this behavior, the characters escaped from their problems. And through writing about it in poetry, Bouzoukis expressed his temptation to escape from his problems by briefly having those indulgences. 5 Bouzoukis grew up during the Great Depression.
California was expensive, and his father was unemployed. So there was a lot of frustration and insecurity at home, and his father was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive to Bouzouki’s mother. 2 His father was also emotionally and physically abusive towards Bouzoukis, something that his mother did not stop. 2 This made Bouzoukis an introverted, insecure, and socially anxious teenager. 2 He had no confidence because he was being traumatized at home and felt that he wasn’t good enough compared to everyone else at school. During this painful period of his youth, Bouzoukis started is lifelong habit of excessive drinking. His drinking only got worse as life went on. 2 He started his writing career after World War II began and never made enough money off of his writing, so he had to do Jobs on the side all the time. Hard Jobs, like working in a factory. 5 He could not make a lot of money off of his poems because not enough people were buying his poetry. 5 He was failing to break in and make it big and found it hard to believe in himself and in the world.
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He became very cynical and depressed about what the publishers were looking for (they only wanted to cater to a market”) and did not believe that anyone had a fair chance. As if things weren’t bad enough, considering that he had no money, no close relationship with his family, and on top of that no success in getting his writing published, during this time Bouzoukis also almost died from a stomach ulcer. 5 He was desperate for companionship and someone to show him the love he never had growing up, and so married another poet without thinking it through first, and divorced her two years later. For a long time after that he was not able to seriously form an honest and healthy relationship, o he was always lonely and always having affairs with women to briefly fulfill his needs. 5 He continued this behavior even after he began to enjoy some success in the sass’s. 5 He only married again a decade later, and he eventually died of cancer. 5 All in all, Bouzoukis led a pretty troubled, difficult and sometimes lonely life, and had a lot of issues going on with him that he expressed in his poetry. 4 Poetry was an outlet for his creative talent as well as his pain. Through poetry, he expressed his disillusionment with the world, his sense of loneliness and not being able to conform r be understood, and his need to escape from the feelings inside him, in a realistic way. 4 By realistic I mean he wants to show the truth without sugarcoating anything. In his poems, he shows his true self struggling to become free of the cage that his fake self traps it in. A good example how Bouzoukis expresses his inner self through realist, transgressing poetry is one of his last poems, published only about two years before he died: “Bluebird. . 1 “Bluebird” is a great poem because it is very sobering and a little depressing, but captures the main struggle that Bouzoukis seems to have aced for most of his life: confronting his inner self, being brave enough to accept himself for who he is instead of escaping from it with alcohol, women, gambling, and other distractions. The bluebird is his inner, true self that is trying to set itself free. He describes it as: “there’s a bluebird in my heart that / wants to get out. 1 But the narrator (who is really the poet describing himself) says he is going to keep the bluebird hidden, and he’ll hide it by distracting himself from it with alcohol and everything else. This is proven in the lines: “there’s a bluebird in my heart that ants to get out but I purr whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whore’s and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he’s in there. ” 1 He is burying the inner voice, the secret alternative personality or true personality within him, with alcohol, cigarettes, and women.
He is afraid to let his true self show, because he’s built everything in his life on lies and putting on a brave front that isn’t who he really is. What is the bluebird then? It’s all the toxicity of his trauma – the depression and failure and sadness – but also the person he can be if he really accepts all those problems instead of running away from them. But he is afraid to accept that side of himself. Bouzoukis has built up all these fears and barriers after a lifetime of running away from his problems.
Now Bouzoukis has too much to lose to try and face these fears and problems, because his career and his fame and his success depend on squashing his pain and depression, or in other words, the bluebird. To illustrate this problem, he asks: “l say, stay down, do you want to mess me up? You want to screw up the works? You want to blow my book sales in Europe? ” 1 This verse clearly shows how much his fears and denials of his inner voice, the bluebird, is tied to his desire to save the life he has worked so hard to build without ever really acknowledging his past, his hurt, and who he truly is.
It’s worth noticing that he uses the word “tough” 1 to describe how strong he is against the bluebird. This means he views it as a threat, even though it is not. He is not in total and complete denial of his inner self, however. Just selectively in denial. He calls himself “clever” 1 and says: “l only let him out at night sometimes” 1 of the bluebird. In the darkness and loneliness of the night, when nobody is there to see and he can be his true self in private.
This fear of showing the “real you” to someone would likely have been an important concern for someone who realized that his poetry wasn’t selling easily when he first started out, likely because publishing is after all a business and publishers want poems that are in keeping with the trends in style, language and themes that would appeal to their customers. We all have to remember that life is a business and you can’t always afford to be your real self. That is why the narrator ells the bluebird that by letting it out, he might ruin his career. Why?
Because the narrator – in other words, Bouzoukis – made a lot of money by partially figuring out what poetry editors wanted to read and selling it to them. This all leads to the fear of not expressing who you really are, and conforming to society. The narrator is being the person that other people subconsciously want him to be, and he knows that. His struggle is that he sees no value in this fake persona apart from societal acceptance. When he does eventually let the bluebird out, he does not ever truly accept it in public – only in private. There is also a sense of loneliness. He is isolated from society because he thinks nobody would understand and accept the bluebird. And since the bluebird is his true inner self, he cannot share that with the world because it seems so foreign and strange to them. He has nobody to talk about this with. The imagery is really powerful because of the way the images are arranged one after another and also because the language of the poem is so direct, simple, and straightforward. 1 He Juxtaposes the image of the bluebird trying to break free with al the signs of vice around it -whiskey, cigarettes, etc. This helps the reader subconsciously make an immediate comparison between the innocent, natural bluebird, which is clean and untouched, with all the things that can drown that clean, natural inner self, like alcohol. 1 Through the images, the simple language, and the discussion of his inner self versus the mask he puts on for the world, the narrator is an effective transplant of Bouzoukis himself, who had a lot of unresolved problems concerning his family. His self-exploration in “Bluebird” is a transgressing poem since it deals with his inner ormolu as he breaks out of a social norm – the norm of pretending to be someone hoys are not.