i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Dreaming of Mero

April 05, 2005

I'm probably about half-way through reading Annie Proulx's "The Half-Skinned Steer" for American Lit this week, and for some reason, the passage about Mero's dream caught my attention. Since I haven't finished the story yet, I thought it might be interesting to interpret the dream to see if it ties in with the ultimate ending of the story. This may be an exercise in futility or it could be neat-o. Take it as you will...

In either case:

In the dream, Mero was in the ranch home he remembers from his childhood:

"A dream of a house may be about a particular place we know or have lived in or may be a fantasized unreal place that we might never have imagined in waking life. The meaning of a house often suggests either the psychological or physical place that we inhabit. The house and what is going on in it may suggest something of what is occurring in our body or our mind during our waking life.

In the story, Mero is returning to a place he once knew to attend the funeral of his brother. So this makes sense.

"The house may remind us of our childhood home with its attendant feelings of belonging and alienation, security and insecurity, conflict and harmony. The house is a psychological extension of our identity and physical being in the world. The different areas of the house may represent different areas of our inner psyche.

Sometimes the house or some of its rooms may be unfamiliar representing unexplored areas of potential within the personality. Exploring an unfamiliar house may represent a new journey of exploration into our own personalities or to work out some psychological problem that resides within our emotional living space. It is fairly common to dream of returning to a house that you knew in childhood. It may represent a return to a familiar situation but with new possibilities."

In the dream, the house is different - the furniture has been removed from the rooms and an army is fighting in the front yard. The house is practically falling apart under the force of the gunshots.

"The feelings and reaction to the house and its inhabitants or contents is crucial to understanding the significance of the house in the dream. It may represent a wish to return to a time of childhood innocence or of a need to move on and leave home by getting on with some unfinished part of one's life."

This dream definitely seems to represent some unfinished part of Mero's life that is very quickly coming to a head. As he was walking through the disintegrating house, he saw buckets of a "dark, coagulated fluid" which probably represents blood.

Two more images stand out:

The Army fighting in the front yard

This seems to represent the conflicts going on in Mero's mind at this point in the story - he is torn by the image of who he wanted to be and the man he has become.

Swoon's dream dictionary writes of army dreams, saying, "This kind of dream indicates obstacles to be overcome; if the army was marching, you will have to travel to achieve your goal. "

Since Mero's on a roadtrip to his childhood haunt, this makes sense.

Finally, we have the image of blood:

Obvious meanings of blood in a dream: Represents the life force, being in a bucket means it ain't in Susy-Q anymore, if you know what I'm saying, so most literally represents the end of a life (makes sense since Brother boy just kicked it). Also, can represent emotional upheavel. One site suggests that dreaming of blood means an end of an emotionally draining time in one's life.

So... what does this mean for our friend Mero?

Well, since short stories are, uh, short, there is no room for extraneous details. So by including this dream sequence, I think that Ms. Proulx is telling us something about Mero. Since he is on his way to his brother's funeral and having weird dreams, I imagine that Mero is about to have a face-to-face confrontation with his past, one that will alter his future. Guess I'll have to keep reading to see...

But a question: What do you think of the use of dream imagery in dreams? Have you ever noted it in other stories and do you think the dream itself ties in with the rest of the piece? Why might Annie Proulx have included this scene in this story?

(Dream Sources - House interpretation, Swoon, Dream Dictionary)

Moira at 06:50 PM :: Comments (2) :: ::

Is this title a spin-off of "Dreaming of Me" by Depeche Mode?

Posted by: Evan at April 6, 2005 04:03 PM

Nah, we're reading a story for American Lit called "The Half-Skinned Steer" and the main character's name is Mero. Dig the Depeche Mode reference tho ... ahh yeah. ;c)

Posted by: moira at April 6, 2005 05:28 PM
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