After learning that he is being paroled, Brooks attempts to harm is friend, Heywood, in order to stay in prison. As a parolee, he is provided a single room in a halfway house and a degrading job as the “bag-boy” at a supermarket. He often wakes up in the middle of the night, confused and afraid; he can never satisfy his supervisor on the job (owing to his arthritis and inexperience as a supermarket employee.
As it is very difficult out in the world, Brooks longs to break his parole so they’d send him back. He also longs to meet up with his “crow friend.” Jake, but knows that no such reunion will occur. In effect, Brooks’ parole, which would appear as an opportunity to feel free, places Brooks within an “iron cage” on the outside, alone, unaffiliated, and extremely depressed.
One day, Brooks puts on his only suit of clothes, packs the rest of his clothes in a suitcase, and climbs unto a table with the noose of a rope around his neck (the rope is tied to a rafter in the apartment. After carving “Brooks Was Here” into a wooden overhang with a pocket knife, he kicks over the table upon which he stands and hangs himself.
The audience hears Brooks’ narration from the time he is released until he commits suicide. This narration represents his suicide note that he sends to his friends at Shawshank. His suicide has a profound effect on Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, who explains that Brooks had become “institutionalized”, or totally adjusted to life within permanent confines, apart from a larger society.
Thursday, October 13th
The following concepts can apply to Brooks’ anomic suicide:
1. Ironic Freedom—anomic suicide applies to the deeply felt loss of a specific place at a specific time, that is accompanied by gaining mobility and independence. However, such mobility and independence can seem alienating to those who have become ingrained in previous habits, stable behaviors, and predictability of existence.
2. Dissociation—Inversely, the less assimilated and “mixed together” humans are in a community of belonging, the less they impose controls on each other within this community— and importantly, the more people in the community feel unattached and isolated from their life world.
This feeling of being unattached especially applies to individuals who have: a) developed strong attachments; have enjoyed the endurance (long term) quality of such attachments; and regard the attachments as defining the essence of their life worlds.
Sudden disappearance or erasure of attachments, via death, moving away from, or disappearance can lead to sociated shock—or a dramatic feeling of loneliness accompanied by ongoing remorse and a deep sense of loss.
3. Incongruity– the less that humans feel that they are in an ongoing interactional community, the more they feel detached from their “ideal place,” and, in addition, the more fear they internalize about being apart from their life world.
This feeling of being separated from one’s ideal place especially applies to the elderly, who find themselves not only lonely, but in a world that has experienced, from their perspective, an earthquake of change. The ideal place no longer exits and has become replaced by a place full of strangers. The individual also feels like a stranger—one who is here today, who will remain tomorrow, but who will also always feel as if existing on the fringe, rather than amid others.
4. Singularity——a term taken from the physical sciences that applies to being out of time—or feeling that time has passed one by. The individual who feels out of time also, often, feels as if he/she has become a forgotten member of society— living in a world that time itself has forgotten.
For example, Brooks, who has spent fifty years in Shawshank, missed almost all of the vast technological and cultural changes that took place on the outside of the prison and now is experiencing acute culture shock—which will become chronic culture shock.
5. Social Invisibility– one’s existence is defined by a strong feeling of not being counted as a full-fledged human being. One’s social invisibility runs counter to having a sense of one’s own social essence—or one’s meaningful existence. Social invisibility applies to people feeling trapped by their circumstances and unable to accomplish or engage in any activity that could make them feel part of the social scene. The person is lost and feels unseen—both inwardly and outwardly.
The individual experiencing social invisibility and who cannot relate to anyone else that could make this individual feel seen and noticed , is vulnerable to take on the attitude that “no one will miss me if I am gone.
1. The Self and Symbolic Death—one view of the self has to do with what William James termed, subjective self-identity , previously referred to, in part, as an “untethered self.” James’ version of subjective identity provides a person’s internal and visceral (“gut level”) view of self as a unique, but also as an anchored person, associated with significant others in a life world, but also as standing out as an exclusive person sui generis —or in and of one’s self.
Importantly, as subjective selves, we create a cycle of self-conception to which we habitually refer—so that our particular definitions of our unique being become apparently objective, or real in our own eyes and the imagined eyes of others.
When this subjective self-identity becomes threatened, challenged, or even contradicted by hostile data regarding who we are in real-life situations, we can experience the virtual reality of self-death—which begins with a negation of our perceived image (owing to various circumstances), and replaced by a different version that answers the question, “Who am I?”
1. The Looking Glass Self—Charles Horton Cooley, greatly influenced by James, viewed the subjective self-identity as an ongoing process of internal self-evaluation as we move through the life course. We develop and refine internalized perceptions that become foundations for feelings about ourselves.
Such feelings are transient—always subject to change on the basis of how we make conclusions about ourselves and the particular circumstances that lead us to drawing such conclusions.
1. Intra-imaginative Concept—refers to one’s internal perception of the self—what could be considered our internalized and primary selfie. This “selfie” is the self-concept one consistently carries with him/her and implies a radicalized free-will (philosophers refer to this concept as solipsistic).
The selfie ranges from a specific picture in one’s head to a more abstract conception of “who am I.”
1. Inter-imaginative Concept—refers to one’s internal perception of how others view his/her perceptual selfie. Importantly, this process is also internal, but it consists of an internal conversation between the self and a hypothetical, imaginary, or reference other.