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The Second Bakery Attack

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Gil
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Today, I read "The Second Bakery Attack", and it is so packed full of discussion worthy concepts that of course I had to open a forum topic (if you haven't read it, go do so now-it is 9 pages that fly by). First off I would like to address the hunger of this man and his wife. Now, it is pretty obvious that this hunger is more than just for food (even though they are also hungry). Is this commenting one's hunger to do something, to change? What it feels like have a mundane life, hungry for something different? Is it almost like a "Breaking Bad" type of hunger, like unleashing the bad urges that one has? What exactly is this hunger that they are feeling? 

I had lots of questions with this story, and since there is so much we can talk about these questions could be some jumping off points:

In the very beginning of the story, the narrator states, "we never choose anything at all. Things happen. Or not." Why does he say this?

Why was listening to that album so life-changing? Why did they feel cursed? What exactly is this "curse"?

Why does the wife seem like she has done this before? Do you think she has?

Any other questions and/or thoughts you had on this story I want to hear! 


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TheBoulder
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I think the hunger may symbolize something between their relationship. At the beginning there was a distance between them, this unspoken bakery attack was the passage for the end, where she rests her head of his shoulder. Yet he says early on "What reminded me of this bakery attack was an unbearable hunger.", which suggests he felt this before. Maybe the hunger is a longing for change in life. After all, after the first attack he went on to college, to law school, to work. After this bakery attack, everything is well. He also said that the relationship with his best friend ended with the attack, it was a final moment. Is the hunger he felt with his friend the same as the hunger with his wife? The first attack was the end of a friendship, the second a beginning of marriage. I think that the hunger could mean different things in each situation. I don't agree that this hunger unleashes something bad, for in the first situation nothing went wrong, and in the second, again, nothing went wrong. In both situations it seemed more out of duty than of aggression. In that sense, perhaps it is a commentary to fulfill an obligation whether or not it is the "right" thing to do, and that even harmful traditions don't have to be damaging. I am not sure what the hunger is.


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TheBoulder
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Something else I would like to add as a topic to discuss is the extended metaphor with the underwater volcano and the narrator in the boat. This volcano underneath him seems obvious to me to be this pressure building up in him. I cannot identify what the pressure is. By the end the volcano has gone and there are peaceful little waves in the water. Typically water signifies the unconscious state, so I could see how this is supposed to show his unconcious. I assume that the hunger is tied to this volcano, for it vanishes when he fills his belly. Does anyone have anything that they think the volcano and the boat signifies?


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MSAR
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@theboulder As I was reading the short story I was also intrigued by the volcano metaphor and I thought it was referring to his wife who was extremely hungry and "hunted for more fragments of food". But at the end it didn't completely make sense  because if the volcano was his wife then why couldn't he see the distance from his boat to the volcano in "hypertransparent" water. And now I am hypothesizing that he volcano might signify the curse that his wife brought up. The bread curse. Along with this there is a line in the text which troubles me as it is confusing to read. "This is because of the hypertransperancy of the water interferes with the perception of the distance." I don't understand what this references. Perhaps someone may be of help.


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MSAR
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Something else that I found troubling was the profession(I am assuming that when he was a student he was studying for the profession) of him being a lawyer. He confessed a crime to his wife and then proceeded to commit a crime with his wife. I am wondering if there is any sort of meaning in that. But I can't think of any.


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TheBoulder
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@msar In 4th hour today we discussed this story, and talked about how his life was set up with a job, education, wife, everything. That this hunger was a desire to reject society or to resent the lack of choice in a bigger world. So even as a lawyer, he needed to have one last attack on his future, on McDonalds, this enormous corporation, and the consumerist culture his future would be a part of.


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Gil
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A concept of Yin Yang was brought up in our sixth hour discussion, the idea that there must be a balance within our lives. We cannot be building up this one constant thing with no change without it eventually breaking/snapping. There needs to be a balance within our lives, we need our lives to be ever changing in order to achieve balance. We also discussed the lifestyle/working in Japan; they seem to have a very direct way of living, all consuming work. With the narrator in this poem possibly stuck within this lifestyle, with no change, this man and wife are going to break. The attack on McDonald's perhaps is an attempt to set a balance within their lives, it is possibly their breaking point.  


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Nicole
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I thought it was interesting how the manager was more concerned about his accounts and how he might get in trouble than he was about the safety of himself and the other workers. When they told him to close the shutters, he said he would get in trouble if he closed early, and when the couple said they wanted Big Macs, he said he could give them money instead because that wouldn't mess up his accounts. I was trying to think about this relating to the idea we talked about in class that McDonald's was specifically chosen to represent the typical western consumerist corporation, and it seems like the manager was more concerned about his status and the job than he was about the safety of the McDonald's employees. He would rather try to argue with someone pointing a gun at him than just close the shutters because he doesn't want to get in trouble. He cares more about the company and how much work he has than he does about the well being of his coworkers.


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Nikki
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@msar This was something really interesting about the piece. I think it goes back to the whole "mundane life" concept. He's recently married (two weeks into his marriage?) and things seem a bit off. He's a lawyer, which could be categorized as another "boring" thing about his life. I think that him committing a crime is another way for him to escape the mundane life. He's doing something that his job fights against, in part.


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Nikki
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@theboulder I thought that the pressure by the volcano could be the pressure in his mind of wanting to do something risky. "The curse" that he brought up, if you will. I'm not really sure what the boat is but I think that the waves have to do with the state of peace that he might feel after committing an act such as this?


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Nikki
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@theboulder this is interesting! We talked about something similar in 6th hour, how McDonalds is representative of consumerism and large businesses. I think you're right that this is likely an attack on the general ways of society and societal norms.


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chizisqueen
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@nicole I certainly noticed that too. It feeds into the idea that @theboulder mentioned with the rejection of society. The idea that an individual has control over their actions is prevalent in this story. From a Marxist standpoint, the employee has been consumed by the false consciousness while our protagonist is willingly fighting against this. Western capitalism is a prime target for such and it's why we see McDonalds as our symbol. 


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Delphine
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Posted by: @gil

Is this commenting one's hunger to do something, to change? What it feels like have a mundane life, hungry for something different?

I definitely think that this hunger is the urge to break out of the sort of cycle the man and his wife seem to be stuck on. He feels trapped, destined to live out the rest of his life in a set way that is seemingly boring and unappealing to him. He's hungry for excitement, hungry for something different to happen that will allow him to break out of this tedious cycle. It's honestly kind of sad.


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Delphine
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Posted by: @gil

Why does the wife seem like she has done this before? Do you think she has?

 

Oooh, I didn't even think about this but going back and rereading after you've said this is a really interesting thing to think about. I think that it's definitely possible that she's been through some sort of rebellious stage like this and been either forced to settle down or forced herself. In this case, I think that maybe her husband encouraging this kind of behavior may be healthy for her. She's revisiting her previous rebellious ideals and excited to help her husband feel the way that she once did. However, I think this also shows that she knows it must come to an end at some point, and she just wants to enjoy the ride of excitement that she's able to have again. She is grasping on tightly to the little but of thrill he's allowing her to have.


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xmysterio
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I think that the narrator starts off by saying that because it kickstarts the main prospects of the story. We never choose anything. They, at first impression, seem to have made the obvious choices to rob the places that they did. However, the conflicts within society is what propelled these choices to be made. It's circumstantial, hence why the narrator says this. 


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