A Statue of a Man

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Was anyone else thrown off by the fact that J. decided to buy a statue of John Henry? I initially thought this was just something J. was using to connect with Pamela, but maybe he really does like the statue, since he's still hauling it around for the rest of the day. Plus, it happens to be pretty heavy and despite not really wanting to continue to carry it, he does.

I thought it was fairly significant when he was in the tunnel with the statue and thinking that "he has half a mind to set the statue down on the floor of the tunnel, make a puppet show of this scene. Diorama of the big day, the John Henry miniature making literal the scale of his competition" (Whitehead 321). It was as if J. was trying to present the real John Henry in some real form compared to all of the different and not necessarily true portrayals of John Henry that the John Henry days were showing. It was also as if J. finally found the connection between what he does for a living, the whole John Henry (whether or not he was a real person or not), and the importance of the past. It was like in the tunnel everything collided to make him finally understand himself or at least a partial understanding of himself.

The statue seemed to play an important role not only in this part of the story, but also the fact J. had to trade the statue to the guy running the sledge hammer game. This seemed somewhat symbolic. It made me think in terms of his relationship with Monica, the woman he seems to have an arrangement with, and how he interacts with Pamela. If J. is willing to give up something easy for something hard, then maybe he is also willing to take a chance on Pamela. In other words, the statue may represent his tie or anchor to Monica and how he wishes to break free of her. J. may end up on a lower scale or playing level with Pamela than where he was at with Monica, but he is essentially gaining something more meaningful with Pamela by taking this chance.

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