Ria Spark

Ria Spark's Grumblings and Musings
2006-10-24 05:59:31 (UTC)

Essay Response 7

Jennifer Johnson
ENGL 2020-01
Oct. 17, 2006

Response: “Zion” by Maureen Stanton

I liked the nakedness of “Zion.” The emotion was
so real and naked, so painful. The author was able to
completely relate how she was feeling during these events
to the reader. And yet, I also got a feeling of a barrier
between the author and the reader, an emotional separation
that makes the piece unrelatable because the events are so
personal and so tragic that these feelings could only
truly be understood by the one living through such an
experience. In conclusion, I thought “Zion” was powerful;
a great work. The sense of time in this essay flows
well. Much time passes between each of the sections, but
it also seems like no time passes at all as the events
become a turbulent of emotional force. For being a
relatively short piece, I thought that Stanton gave the
secondary characters enough description to paint a clear
picture of these people she meets as she travels this
journey. I am especially fond of the first and last
paragraphs of the piece, which I was surprised to learn
in “On Writing Zion” were very similar to Stanton’s first
draft of them. The first paragraph sets the tone for the
essay—a sense of disconnection from reality, from the rest
of human life. The last paragraph echoes this theme,
especially in the line, “We can see them, but they can’t
see us, as if we are ghosts. We exist in a parallel life…
We can’t touch them anymore. We are headed somewhere
It’s the eyes. There’s something about a doll’s
glassy eyes—their similarity to human eyes, I guess—that I
fear. After all, they say eyes are the window to the
soul, and a soul can have all kind of intentions; you
know: good, not so good, bad, very bad, evil, evil
incarnate, wanting to do murder, murder like murdering you
in your sleep, murder like murdering you when you’re not
watching them (as they watch you), or just murdering you
all Steven King Tommyknocker-style with the blood and gore
and the group-y-ness of it. Call it a silly fear, but I
fear dolls above all else. The earliest I can trace this
fear is to an incident when I was six years old, and
ironically, it had nothing to do with dolls. My brother
Jason and I had got a hold of a copy of our dad’s old
Reader’s Digest. I remember sitting with my brother on
the bed in my parent’s room with the door closed and
coloring on the magazine. We were secretly scribbling
with red marker on a picture of a lady, giving her horns
and red eyes and all kinds of strange extra body parts,
all the while laughing at our daringness to color on
daddy’s magazine without his knowing. And then suddenly,
strangest of all, in mid-stroke both my brother and I
stopped eerily at the same time and actually looked down
at the picture we had created—all-at-once realizing the
demon we had created. We were terrified. In two seconds
flat we were out that room and running, crying to our
father. I don’t know why I connect this incident to
dolls, but since then I have felt an uneasiness around
them, especially the ones with the realistic, glassy
eyes. Ironically, two years later, when I was eight and
American Girl was all-the-fad, I asked my parent’s for a
Samantha doll for Christmas. Three words: biggest mistake
ever. I must’ve played with that $90 doll for all of
twenty minutes before I felt it necessary to my own safety
to hide it in the closet. I began to develop an
irrational fear of the doll. Soon I began to hate it, and
felt that it hated me too because it knew that I knew that
it was evil and wanted to kill me like I wanted to kill
it. That was my insane thinking anyway. I remember how
in one fever-induced dream, I pleaded with my mom that we
needed to burn it in order to kill the demon inside. When
we did and threw away the ashes, I returned to my room to
find the doll sitting on my bed smirking. These were my
childhood nightmares, in which The Doll nearly always got
top billing. Because it was so expensive, I didn’t want
to anger my parents by asking them to get rid of it, so I
endured. Thus, the doll sat on my bed for six long years
before my family finally moved and it somehow got “lost”
in the packing. Almost every single one of those nights—
nearly 2,000 bedtimes in total—I would take that doll far,
far across the room and turn it to face the wall. And
then throw a blanket over it. I had to—it was watching
me. With those eyes; those watching eyes.