Melissa Del Balso
October 1st 2008
The Characterization of the Alienated Jillian
Alienation and not fulfilling the need to belong can bring up strong negative emotions that can cause a propelling cycle with no ending solution. The short story “Act of God,” by Joan Baxter, is set in a fictional African village where the blurred mind of the protagonist, Jillian, causes her to have unconstructive emotions such as anger and guilt; which leads her fate into a bottomless hole of oppression. Through characterization of the protagonist it reveals how certain pessimistic emotions blur the mind when put in an undermined situation, and can cause unsound decisions in a quest to belong.
Early in the story the author clearly reveals that Jillian is without doubt feeling frustrated and angry with her living conditions and is feeling the intense despair of being detached from her home. “Water cuts threw her into confusion, disrupted the routine that permitted her to fabricate a sense of belonging here,” (1). In addition to feeling detached from the home she once knew, Jillian is also feeling as though she is not connecting with the African people and their culture. Not being able to communicate with them causes a barrier that is thickened by the guilt she shares for them. Consequently, it is this very guilt that turns into anger which becomes the major point in the story when Jillian lashes out at Aisha, her “tomato girl,” (3). After becoming enraged and letting out all her anger and frustration towards Aisha, Jillian quickly realizes that her guilt and anger have actually overwhelmed her and she has become some sort of monster she has never met. In this moment of realization the author uses foreshadowing to depict future events: “Jillian’s rage evaporated; shame flooded in, nauseating her,” (3). Jillian let her emotions get the best of her and with added feelings of estrangement, she becomes a changed person; when instead she should...