he Coma BabyJay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City: You are the Coma BabyThe novel Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney relates the tale of ayoung man working for a prominent newspaper in Manhattan by day, while visitingmany bars and nightclubs during the night. He manages to accomplish thisthrough the help of his use of cocaine, to which he is powerfully addicted.
Throughout the novel McInerney employs the use of the Coma Baby, a current storyin the New York Post, a local tabloid, as a symbolic representation of the maincharacter.
The Coma Baby has been residing in its mother’s womb after themother suffered a car accident and entered a coma. The debate is to whether theComa Baby will see the “light of the delivery room”. In this passage the maincharacter is experiencing a dream where he interacts with the Coma Baby in hisworkplace. This passage, through the words and phrases employed by McInerney asboth dialogue and narration, is strong support for the concept that like theComa Baby, the main character wants to avoid facing the harsh realities of lifeand continue living isolated in his world of narcotic-induced pleasure.
Theauthor uses the interaction of the main character and the Coma Baby as proofthat the main character will not realize the fallacies of his ways until he hashit rock-bottom.
The Coma Baby is shown to be the symbolic representation of the maincharacter through his actions and philosophy toward life, a philosophy whollyirresponsible and unmotivated. As the main character approaches he asks theBaby if he’s going to come out. The Baby responds with “No way Jos. I like itin here. Everything I need is pumped in.”(line 11) This remark illustrates themain character’s attitude toward life.With the condition that the Baby getswhat he needs, he has no motivation to improve his situation. This parallelswith the main character, who , provided he has his cocaine, does little toimprove his situation. For example, he continually shows up late to work, andthen after completely botching a project is fired from his job. The drugs havecompletely stolen his motivation towards life. After this, when the maincharacter tries to reason with the Coma Baby about improving his situation, theComa Baby plays a deaf-and -dumb routine(line14), highly symbolic of the maincharacter’s actions toward those that have been trying to help him. For example,the main character continues to avoid Clara Tillinghast, his boss, in herattempts to bring him to work on time. Suggestions from Wade and Megan abouthis lifestyle fall on the main character’s deaf ears. The main character’sattitude toward Clara is shown in the passage when the doctor knocks at the dooron line 16 and her voice is that of Clara’s saying:”Open up. It’s the doctor.”To this the Baby responds with “They’ll never take me alive”, a clearrepresentation of the avoidance and rebelliousness the main characterdemonstrates toward Clara.
The use of certain language references related to the main character workto further the notion that the Coma Baby is representative of the main character.
At the opening of the passage, the main character enters the “Department ofFactual Verification” with the plaque of “L’Enfant Coma” written upon the door.
Inside, two of his colleagues, Elaine and Amanda, are doing lines of cocaineupon a desk while swearing in French. Near the end of the passage the maincharacter answers the phone with “All?”, the French way of greeting. The usageof the French language associates this entire dream setting with the maincharacter and his premise of French knowledge. In line 11, the Coma Baby usesthe phrase “No way Jose”, a phrase used by the main character throughout thenovel. The usage of these work to show the reader that the Coma Baby dreamscene is representative of the main character in the novel.
Through the dream scene related by this passage, the Coma Baby is shown tobe symbolic of the main character in the novel. The author’s purpose in doingso is to show the fallacy of the main character’s situation:that he will notrealize how he is destroying his life until he has hit rock bottom. Throughoutthe passage the main character tries to convince the baby to improve its life,yet the Baby remains stubborn as does the main character in his own life. Asthe main character does not realize he is represented by the Coma Baby, he willcontinue to throw away his life and fortune in the pursuit of a good time. Onlywhen he must peddle his brand-name sunglasses in order to buy food will he”acknowledge loss, and possibly, to rediscover his better instincts.”English
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Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City: You are t. (2019, Jan 15). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/jay-mcinerneys-bright-lights-big-city-you-are-t/