Essay on The Old Gun

Write the essay on “The Old Gun” by Mo Yan & “In the Loop” by Bob Hicok.

Essay on “The Old Gun” by Mo Yan & “In the Loop” by Bob Hicok

The two pieces of literature to be analyzed in this paper are – the story “The Old Gun” by Mo Yan, and the poem “In the Loop” by Bob Hicok. 

The story, “The Old Gun” is about a young man, of 16 years of age, named Dasuo, who had been watching flocks of birds land near a water pool for days, and out of extreme hunger and poverty, he wanted to kill a bird or two as he hadn’t tasted meat for a long time. His family, had the possession of an old gun, which he was not allowed to touch, and which had killed both his grandfather and his father, much before their times, and Dasuo took it down and brought it to kill the ducks for his dinner. He waited patiently in the sorghum enclosure and tried to operate the gun but it failed him. He repeatedly pressed the nozzle, and no shots rolled out. He remembered the manner in which his father died, when Dasuo was a child of 5 to 6 years, and before that how his grandfather died when his father was a child of 6 years. Dasuo’s grandmother used it to kill his grandfather, and Dasuo’s father used it to kill himself and had instructed Dasuo’s mother to hand the gun in their living room for Dasuo to look at everyday but never to touch. Dasuo once touched the gun and as a punishment his mother axed out the first stump of his index finger which eventually gave away the second stump as well, and Dasuo was left with only one stump. After repeated attempts, when the gun did not fire, Dasuo crept out from his shelter and held the gap in his lap and tried to shoot one more time, and this time the gun shot out and hit Dasuo and he gradually drifted into oblivion (Childs & Hope, 2015). 
    The poem “In the Loop” by Bob Hicok, speaks about the mass shooting incident which occurred at Virginia Tech University, and speaks about the futility of conversations and the meaninglessness of everything post a major crisis such as that. “In the loop” is a poem where, the poet was focused in recording that very passing moment post a major crisis, the birth of a thought, the connection of the thought to the next thought (Poetry Foundation, 2018). And the poem is written as if those constellations of thoughts when written down would give rise to a conclusive meaning, only it doesn’t, but leaves an empty, disquiet in the readers mind. Hicok’s 200 + worded poems are basically about having no words – the numbness which impacts everyone post such a disaster and in spite of repeated conversations about how meaningless, how horrible, how drastic it is, there is in reality nothing to talk about (BAP, 2012). “Because this was about nothing” is the single most powerful line in the whole poem, and it talks about the futility of having talks, having precautionary policies undertaken, experiencing such numb fallout from these shootings. 
Hicok highlights these society’s notion and clichés about how something should be said when all one is feeling is nothingness along with senselessness and extreme grief, and shock. Hicok pens “A boy who felt that he was nothing, who erased and entered that erasure, and guns  ... that are good for nothing, and talk of guns… that is good for nothing, and spring that is good for flowers, and Jesus for some, and scotch for others, and “and” for me.. The poet depicts how something “and” is the best of what we have got, and sometimes it is allowed to give ourselves permission to be un-profound as well as ineloquent and to be simple and say, there are no words and I must speak them.
The main contrast between the two pieces of literature is that, where “On the Loop” is built on a continuous, present timeline of empty conversations and leaves that hollow, shocking, empty feeling with the readers , the short story by the nobel prize winner of Literature in 2012 (The Guardian, 2013), “The Old Gun” starts with a gradual tempo and slowly picks up the pace and ultimately it is as if the reader already expects such a tragic ending is waiting for Dasuo, and the gun will do its part. Though apparently, both the pieces are about a “gun”, and about the power of such a thing which lets people undergo tasks and works which apparently seem incapable of them, the style and the undercurrent of the two pieces are quite different from one another. 
    “On the Loop” by Bob Hicok, is a more contemporary piece which leaves readers empty and translates that feeling of shock within the readers as well, “The Old Gun” by Mo Yan, on the other hand, readies the reader for such a tragic outcome. The story, is interspersed with drastic violence with that of banal description of the surroundings, but the writer Yan effectively describes the setting so minutely that the reader also waits with a breathlessness about what is to unfold. Both the pieces of literature chosen for this essay have that similarity in letting the readers feel the heaviness and the sudden breathlessness and compels them to wonder at the futility of things and the meaninglessness of life.

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BAP. (2012). There are no words. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from Best American Poetry:
Childs, M., & Hope, N. (2015). Voices of East Asia - Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present. US: Routledge.
Poetry Foundation. (2018). In the Loop. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from Poetry Foundation:
The Guardian. (2013). Nobel Prize in Literature 2012. US: The Guardian.

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