Valerie Laken writes the story “Separate Kingdoms,” in interesting ways. In the story, there are two columns in order to show two stories, and each story is described by a different perspective. The occurrence of both stories at the same time triggers interest to readers. For those unique writing skills, she is able to deliver her point more efficiently. Tragic mutual incomprehension is caused by a lack of communication with family members. Through one family story, Laken not only indicates a lack of communication and individual attention in but also provides us how to deal with the problem. The first step of understanding would be in other’s shoes.
Above all, in a Laken’s story is about a lack of communication and a mutuality of understanding between the members of a family. In the story, there are three members of the family; a father, Colt, who usually watches on TV; his wife, Cheri, who usually dose exercise; a son, Jack, who usually plays Xbox. In every single page, interesting way that the author builds the structure of a family’s story with two columns is applied by two different perspectives. The first column is told by an invisible storyteller and the second column is told by son’s view, first-person view. Although each column has a different perspective, both columns narrate the same story about after Colt is cut off his thumbs in accident at work. A Colt’s house is negatively narrated by a third-person view. From the perspective, “Over the TV and the Xbox and the basement DVD strains … you can hear them not giving anybody ten minutes of peace in their own goddamn home.” (Laken 4) It explains a phenomenon in the house that each member of family keeps on doing something and never stops to do it. For this reason, there is no time to make conversations among the family members, and they are unable to understand each other. I believe the author wants to show there is an invisible barrier within family likewise the space between two columns, two perspectives.
Two columns provide a boost to Laken’s points, a mutual incomprehension in family. In Laken’s story, there are two separate kingdoms, an animal and a human kingdom. From first-person view, Jack thinks “Whenever he lets out Hank and Eddie he goes outside and pees with them.” (Laken 1) According to this, he feels his father like a dog. It means he considers his dad as an animal. In addition, Colt’s room is called the reject room and this room is described as an animal kingdom by Jack. He states, “I put down the joystick and go through the kitchen to the back room, which smells like a mixture of hamster and hospital.”(Laken 2) When he goes to the reject room, he seems like a wounded animal lives there. Those Jack’s thoughts demonstrate the lack of understanding of Colt’s situation. Colt loses his thumbs as well as he loses his identity as a human. In the technology society, our thumbs have a crucial role in linking between a human and technology. In other words, the meaning of losing our thumbs is same as losing a human’s capacity. From third-person view, Colt’s behavior is observed by the author, “He balances the remote control against his thigh with the heel of one bandaged hand and carefully, without moving his fingers too much, gets himself to Animal Planet.” (Laken 1) The description of his behavior shows his difficulties of using technology without two thumbs. Nevertheless, Colt watches the show “Animal Planet.” His behavior is hard to understand for his son and wife. Jack expresses, “He turns back to the TV, where it’s another animal show, of course… Leave me and Mom behind to fend for ourselves.” (Laken 4) Though Jack’s account, readers are able to recognize Colt’s abnormal behavior, fixated on animal show, goes hard with his family. It also indicates there is barrier between Colt and other family members.
The lack of incomprehension and communication could be treated by endeavor. In Laken’s story, she attempts to release conflicts between family members. Chosen one of ways is column breaks. From left column to right column, “Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh. Duh. Guh…” (Laken 6) It is the sound of playing a drum by Jack. From this moment, his drum sound is able to share in both perspectives. It is not only sharing the sound but it is also his desire to be part in a same house and space that means by family. The sound is vitalized by the author. Laken makes readers are able to hear the rhythm of the Jack’s drum by leaving the margin between the words. As she creates the effective way of expression about Jack’s effort, the sense of the sound delivers to readers well. In spite of Jack effort, it fails of achieving his goal. However, Jack struggles against two separate kingdoms in order to unite a family. In the end of the story, he says to mom “’Yesterday I tried to do everything all day without my thumbs,’ I say.” (Laken 17) What he try to do has same experiences of his father. Sharing same thoughts from same experiences might be first step of understanding each others. Like Laken’s story, although the author provides two perspectives in two stories, it is hard to figure out Colt’s thought because those perspectives are not in Colt’s view. As his son change his point of view to his father of view, Laken wants to show the possibility of understanding between family members.
The shortage of comprehension and interest in a family is not everything in the Laken’s story. Beyond that, the story is a sad reflection of our society. To prove that she gives a key to reader that those separate kingdoms is caused by technology. Colt’s thumbs are cut off by a machine, and he belongs to animal kingdom. The members of family are isolated in their individual space by using the technology. That is why the story of family has a connection to our technology society. Finally, as Laken shows efforts of understanding in a family, the ultimate goal of her essay meets the idea of how an individual can restore the problem of technology society.