What Does Bartleby Want?
I have read “Bartleby the Scrivener” multiple times, it is one of my favorite short stories. I even wrote an analysis paper on it in high school and I have barely thought about what Bartleby wants. At first, I thought that Bartleby was too flat of a character to want anything, he didn’t want any human connections, he didn’t want a particular job, he didn’t want to do any type of tasks he was given. I thought of Bartleby as this dead, emotionless character. I always interpreted Bartleby as a symbol for a dead human connection, the result of not having any interactions with anyone, the result of just being nothing. I then thought that maybe Bartleby wanted something close to a home and since the narrator has treated him differently than anyone else, Bartleby felt like the office might have been something that made him feel secure in a way.
However, after re-reading the story and really listening to the discussion we had in class about connections to other things we have read, I realized that Bartleby is not just a symbol for a dead human connection. I realized that Bartleby is a symbol for the power that all people posses, the ability to say no to something and the ability to have no regret about saying no to a request, an offer, or really any type of question that doesn’t suit them. After coming to this realization, I read a few pages of the story over, particularly pages 25 through 27 because this is the part of the story where Bartleby engages in the most dialogue with the narrator. After re-reading these pages, I figured out that Bartleby does not want a home at all, he doesn’t want somewhere to feel safe or anything of the sort. I realized that what Bartleby really wants is to keep his right to refuse to do certain things.
Bartleby finds peace in being able to refuse to do something, it makes him feel secure in who he his, even though it may not look like he is much of a person to the reader. In pages 25 through 27, Bartleby repeats to the narrator that he prefers not to make any change and he refuses to move from the office. This particular part of the story displays Bartleby’s habit of continuously saying no to something that he is offered, it shows that he is content with where he is and he does not want anyone changing or going against his right to refuse to change or any type of offer. Even after being put in jail, Bartleby still refuses to do things which is interesting because all of his freedom has been taken away from despite what the narrator tells him about how great the jail is. Bartleby stands by his opinion and he doesn’t allow anyone to take away his right to say “prefer not to,” he also doesn’t leave any room for people to convince him to change either.
What does Carmona want? Main Points?
Jose Carmona’s Article on police brutality was a very interesting read. Carmona made many valid and great points but I feel like Carmona’s main points were focused on how the brutality that is occurring today is very similar to the brutality that occurred in the 1960’s, it is also being handled in the same way with tear gas. I also feel like Carmona’s larger main point was really about how the reforms being put into place today such officers engaging with citizens in communities, officers wearing body cameras, and officers carrying “less than lethal” weapons are only enforcing how legit the officers are and allowing them more power over citizens.
Since Officers are engaging with citizens they will know their weaknesses and what they are most afraid of, as Carmona states. Carmona also states that the use of body cameras wont prevent less brutality because there is no way of promising that an officer will record an incident. These specific points are all aimed at granting the police more force over citizens who are not allowed to protect themselves against brutality. Another one of Carmona’s main points is the way in which the police taskforce expects citizens to comply with procedures and reforms set forth. This particular expectation seems a bit outrageous to me which I think is Carmona’s underlying point because the taskforce expects people to comply with reforms and procedures that are enforcing more power over the citizens, they are granting the officers permission to repress our right to say no to a certain request. if someone were to say no to an officer’s request it is more than guaranteed that that particular officer will use some type of external force to get that citizen to comply with the request they are setting forth and it is not guaranteed that this incident will be reported/recorded.
Based on Carmona’s three main points and underlying point of the taskforce expecting full compliance, I believe that Carmona wants people to recognize the patterns that are continuing throughout out history with police brutality. I believe that Carmona wants people to realize that yes, they do have the right to refuse to a certain request but at the same time that refusal will come with harsh consequences. I believe that Carmona wants peace but he also wants people to realize that sitting back and simply complying with procedures and reforms is not peace nor justice. I feel like what Carmona wants the most is for people to realize that these “new” reforms are not at all new, they are just being revived and they will surely die out again but this time leaving much more power to the police. Carmona wants justice along with peace, he wants people to realize that these reforms are not at all a form of justice or an end to our problem.
Comparison between both passages:
It was a little difficult for me to make the connection between these two passages because I felt like they were completely different from each other. However, I do realize that there is a very small comparison between the symbolism of Bartleby and one of the wants of Carmona. Bartleby symbolizes the power that every human being posses, which is the ability to refuse to do something or comply to a particular task. This symbolism relates to Carmona wanting people to realize that they do have the right and power not to comply with the reforms and procedures being set in front of them. People do have the right to be able to feel secure in their decision to comply or not comply with an officer’s request. The only difference is that Carmona is trying to convey to readers that their choice not to comply may come with difficult and harsh consequences.