The Fugitive and his Blue Mask of Alienation

Boyle and his sympathy for Marciano
A blue surgical mask

Marciano is a victim. A victim to a disease that will kill him. Each breath he takes could lead him into a coughing fit that leaves him weak and shriveled on the floor. His mask — a target — plastered across his face. A target that makes him a victim to fear, anger, pity, disgust, and hate from every person he meets. A mask that alienates him from the people around him, making it impossible for him to have any kind of personal relationship. It inflicts upon him a very lonely existence. An existence that he didn’t ask for — an existence that puts him into a depression that he lives with every day. The only people who do care about him, his family, are thousands of miles away, and powerless to heal him and incapable of giving him the love and affection he so desperately needs. He is twenty-three years old and dying. A kid who should be living life to the fullest, not barely surviving. And if he dares take the chance at freedom — a moment not wearing the dehumanizing mask — he could be arrested, and be put in confinement alone in a sterile room, where he will suffer for months on end, being fed pathetic excuses for food, praying for the day he gets better. Life would be unbearable, and he knows that. However, he feels his life is already unbearable. Which is why he chooses to not wear the mask.

Rosa Hinojosa and the doctor can’t comprehend how painful it is for him to exist when he wears that mask. How hurtful it is when they look at him like an animal, Marciano “watched the doctor’s eyes, which looked at him as if he were less than human, something to step on in the street and crush, angry eyes, hateful, and what had he done to deserve this? He’d got sick, that was all — and couldn’t anybody get sick?” To them, he is a charity case that they have to put up with and heal for the sake of society as a whole. They don’t know the humiliation and the pain he feels on a daily basis. They don’t understand how cruel they are being to Marciano. All Marciano wants is to have physical and emotional human interactions that don’t involve looks of fear and disgust. He wants so desperately to be normal, to live a healthy life where he can be free to work and be himself without being judged by his illness. A life without a blue target on his face. When he discards the mask in public, it gives him a moment of freedom from his alienation. He has the freedom to interact with others and do everyday tasks like he used to before he was cursed with his illness. In those moments, he can forget that he is sick and dying, and just live his life.
But his freedom is an illusion he so naively believes in. He is never truly free from his illness. He is still sick, and he is still dying. His choice to remove the mask puts the lives of everyone he meets in danger. With every cough, he spreads his deadly drug-resistant disease. If his disease reaches a child or someone elderly, they will most surely die. But does that stop Marciano? No. Marciano is selfish. He put his own temporary feelings above the lives of others. If he simply let himself get better, then he would be able to live a normal life. “Marciano didn’t register what he was saying, or not exactly, he got the gist of it: this was his warning, his final warning, and now there could be no appeal”, so Marciano knew all well that if he failed to do as he was told, he would need to face the consequences. It is his fault for not taking his medicine the first time and creating this deadly strain and because of his failure to wear the mask, he needs to face the consequences. Although he suffers from great pain, both emotional and physical because of that mask, it is shouldn’t be an excuse to endanger the lives everyone around him. Other people should not have to be put in danger because of his negligence and his want to not be alienated.
Raccoons account for thirty percent of all wildlife reported with rabies. Raccoons who are sick with rabies pose harm to people’s pets and children. It is the reason why people call in exterminators and animal control to remove these animals from their property. Although not all raccoons carry rabies and therefore not every raccoon deserves to die, it is necessary for the safety of all people and pets that each raccoon caught be exterminated. With each raccoon’s death the chance of rabies to spread decreases, making families safer. Because of Marciano’s antibiotic resistant strain of Tuberculosis, he has become similar to the raccoon. Just like a raccoon, he doesn’t ask to be sick with his disease. He doesn’t ask to be treated like a pest. He feels that the disgust and anger from the doctor and Rosa Hinojosa are unjustified. Like anyone, animal or human, Marciano doesn’t want to die. Marciano just wants to live his life. His mask keeps him from living a normal life. However, just like a raccoon who wanders into a family’s yard, when he takes off that mask, he simply becomes a threat to the health of the people around him. Of course, it is unethical to exterminate Marciano like we would a raccoon. He is still human and doesn’t deserve to die. However, he does deserve to be subject to the same result. The death of the raccoon stops the spread of rabies as Marciano’s solitary confinement would stop the spread of his tuberculosis. Honestly, Marciano is much luckier than the raccoon. He was given the chance to live — a chance to get better. The raccoon had no such chance. All Marciano had to do was take the medicine and wear the mask. When he failed to do so after being given multiple warnings, he was reduced to nothing more than a raccoon.


On a more personal note, I want to address the point made to me in class Wednesday. Professor Simrill said I could take this to the next level by wearing a surgical mask around campus for twenty-four hours. I can understand why he would want me to do that, my heart dropped when he said it. It would be a life changing experience. It would be incredibly humbling and make me super self-conscious. By the end of the day, I would probably be an emotional wreck. Genuinely considering it made me look inward at myself and rethink how I view Marciano. However, there is one massive difference between me and Marciano and it is why I will not wear the mask. Marciano has no ties to where he is at. He has just come back to America and has no one who cares about him here, and no one who would notice if was to disappear. I, on the other hand, have to be here for another four years. I have to look at these people every day, make friends with these people, and Marciano does not. I have a life I have the luxury to live, he does not. Marciano is dangerous. He carries a sickness that could take the lives of innocent people or worse subject them to the same life he has to live. If I was sick like Marciano is, I would wear the mask. I wouldn’t be as sickeningly selfish as him. I wouldn’t endanger my loved ones and the people around me for my own comfort. Would it make me depressed? Yes. Would it make me want to die? Yes. Would I reach the point where I’d take my own life because my existence would be so miserable? Perhaps. But I would do it for the sake of my family, myself, and the others around me. Even if I didn’t have any friends or family, I care enough about his world and the people in it to make sure I don’t harm anyone who doesn’t deserve it. Marciano doesn’t get a free pass to endanger others because he doesn’t know them. They are innocent people and should be protected from him. I don’t care how miserable my life gets if it means I don’t harm someone else’s. I can only understand a fraction of the pain and depression Marciano must face, but it doesn’t give Marciano an excuse to endanger everyone around him.

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