The Origin of a Writer

“Batman is actually Bruce Wayne; Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. “— Bill from Kill Bill Vol. 2

When it came to heroes, I was often infatuated with the things that these heroes did for society, paying little to no attention to how they attained their heroic qualities. Batman saved Gotham City from the Joker and Spider-Man saved New York City from The Green Goblin, but how did Bruce Wayne become Batman? How did Peter Parker become Spider-Man? David Carradine’s character in Kill Bill Vol. 2, Bill, sheds light upon the origin of heroes as well as characterizing heroes in two categories — those who are born heroes and those who develop into heroes. Originally, Bill’s lines in the screenplay didn’t have this monologue, but Tarantino added this speech on a whim. Although Bill’s oration on heroes was meant for Beatrix, this monologue is applicable to every hero there is. Tarantino’s decision to add this point-of-view on how we view heroes plays with the concept of nature versus nurture.

Tarantino ponders the thought of whether heroes are innately born or if the experiences they endure contribute to their development into a hero. Despite our genetic predispositions, philosopher John Locke argued that the human mind is born with a “blank slate,” where our experiences will be the foundation of knowledge and understanding. [1] In the spectrum of heroes, it is to my belief that they are born with this “blank slate.” Superman was born with superhuman abilities, but he very well could have used his powers to do harm. However, this isn’t the case as Superman, or Clark Kent, was raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent in Smallville, Kansas [2], who have turned him into this benevolent alien-being. Nevertheless, Tarantino’s purpose with the Superman monologue, more specifically outside of the context of the Kill Bill series, is to convey that heroes aren’t decided from the womb, but rather their experiences fill their blank slates and develop them into heroes — a concept that is applicable to two characters that I wrote about — Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction and Lt. Aldo Raine from Inglourious Basterds.

This concept of “the nurturing of heroes” can be applied to many characters in Tarantino’s films. For example, look at Django from Django: Unchained and even Major Marquis Warren from The Hateful Eight. Moviegoers often don’t notice the development of characters in movies since they only pay attention to the beginning and final states of a character — failing to see the progressive change in between these two states. However, the path that the character takes to become a hero is the most important process. The various kinds of experiences that these characters go through differentiate themselves from others. The journey of becoming a hero is accentuated by Joseph Campbell’s concept of a monomyth. Joseph Campbell introduces this concept in The Hero with A Thousand Faces where he states, “a hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” [3] Campbell’s template for the journey of a hero starts off with an ordinary man that goes on a journey to return a different person. In the movies that will be discussed in the portfolio, all the characters being analyzed are all ordinary characters in their respective ways. However, certain events will change them — progressively developing them into heroes through the events that place in Tarantino’s films and and their subtextual backstory.

With that said, I’ve come to realize that my journey as a writer embodies the ideas of John Locke’s “blank slate” and Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. My experiences in this class has mended and molded me, filling up my blank slate and turning into a better writer than I was in high school. I’ve gained so much confidence in my ability to write and convey ideas which is why I accredit my development as a writer to this very ENGL 1102 class. My Achilles’ heel when it came to writing these essays had to be my analysis. In high school, every teacher seemed glorify the same method of writing — the top-down processing method of writing. The good ole’ “start with a big idea then narrow it down to the small details.” This was probably the reason why I struggled with writing so much. However, this English class introduced a new approach to writing to me. It starts off with starting from one small detail, or scene from the film in my case, then expanding upon that one detail with every tangent possible and then finally grouping all these tangents together to form the big idea. “From genus to species,” as my English teacher would coin it. This new method to writing seemed so unorthodox to me, since my high school teachers have shoved their method of writing down my throat for the past four years of high school. Oddly enough, this method of writing clicked with me. It’s allowed me to coherently process and organize my ideas in a more concise manner which contributes to the flow of my essay as I explore a topic and branch ideas off one another.

One crucial thing that I have learned during the course of this class importance of having information at your disposal. By having access to a library of knowledge, it makes the process of writing much smoother. One of the biggest problems I had when writing my essays was my lack of information to expand my current ideas — the ability to go deeper. Although research eventually solved that problem, the necessity of having an endless amount of knowledge contributes to the process of writing greatly. I’ve learned that books, movies, and even current events are great outlets of information that I can use to connect and supplement my writing, giving it a sense of dimensionality by going beyond the limitations of a certain topic.

My growth as a writer and a thinker is evident in the progress of my essays. From my first essay to now, my writing has become more concise and coherent. Supplemented by research and analysis of Tarantino movies that I’ve watched, I’m able to connect and expand my ideas on a more advanced level than I have been able to do before. As I reread my revised versions of my essays, it amazes how my ideas expand and then branch to another idea without disrupting the flow. This type of self-satisfaction in my writing has made me appreciate and enjoy writing more. Nevertheless, my writing has come a long way since I wrote my first analytical essay in this class. The journey that I’ve taken in this class has given me the confidence to write about any topic thrown at me.

References

[1] Locke, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. New York: Dover Publications, 1959. Print.

[2] Weldon, Glen. Superman: The Unauthorized Biography. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2013. Print.

[3] Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1972. Print.

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