Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Arrival

I know we read The Arrival at the beginning of the year, but I recently had a conversation about it. One of my favorite English teachers from middle school found out that I was ill, and she's been visiting me once a week. I was telling her all about the Graphics Novel course that I am taking and she was extremely interested, so I let her borrow some of the course materials that I've already read including The Arrival. We started talking about it, and she made me realize how similar the story is to my experiences in 'chemo-land.' The protagonist in The Arrival embarks on a frightening journey, leaving behind his familiar and comfortable life and arrives at a foreign destination, populated by peculiar creatures. Foreign customs are confusing and he learns a new language to make sense of indecipherable signs and conversations. He is bewildered, but finds repeated comfort from strangers who become his new friends. He passes his legacy on to his daughter who then extends herself to someone who is new to the experience. When I think about my time in the hospital, it's like entering a foreign place where time stands still. The peculiar creatures are the nurses who to me, seem like elves that scurry about, tending to beeping "robots" (my IV pump). In a way, the chemo is a dark serpent. He is frightening, but powerful enough to wage battle with the cancer. While he seems to be my enemy, he is actually a friend...a complex and powerful friend who is seeing me through this ordeal. I have a blog about my cancer experience, and by creating that, I hope I am reaching out to others, some of whom will hopefully use my experiences to find strength within themselves when they are faced with seeming powerlessness, just as the protagonist's daughter passes on her knowledge.

-Gabi Heller

1 comment:

Michael Hancock said...


I can only hope your post doesn't get buried under the avalanche of Maus posts I've assigned both classes. You show the potential of graphic novels, as art and literature, to resonate with us on an intimately personal level. I appreciate your heartfelt comments about The Arrival and the immigrant's trip there, which has relevance to all kinds of travel to foreign lands, both literal and metaphorical, as your discussion reflects. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!