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Creation of 'Shatter' - taken from ENGL233 Reflective Statements

Mark for this piece: 87/100 (HD)

When I began this piece, my main stimulus had been a story in March 2016 of a mentally-disabled man who had destroyed a bus in Lane Cove, after being kicked off for making racial slurs. What shocked me was the media’s interpretation, picturing this clearly mentally-disabled man as a monster. Therefore, I aimed to write a piece to humanise this person, and show difficulties of mental disability.

I firstly examined interpretations of mentally damaged individuals, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger and Lennie in Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. Both texts enabled readers to relate to the characters and their disability; yet also question their actions. With that in mind, I decided to focus on attempting a third person subjective narration. In my first draft, I focused heavily on creating Ben’s setting. However, I ran into many issues, in that I missed the focal point of the story: being Ben’s character. What was his backstory? What about his family? What about his illness? Why does he go to mental health clinics? Why does he struggle at university? What is behind what he does?

I decided, with a second draft, to focus purely on Ben. The narrative and story went through his eyes, so putting him in the centre gave the piece much-needed focus. This draft brought out the idea of multiple voices (showcasing Ben’s illness through narration). This draft also presented Ben’s character progression, and bring out themes of isolation and seeing-but-misunderstanding. People on the bus only see him as a monster, yet through his moment with the old man, he finally begins to connect with someone.

Overall, this piece had many good ideas. I feel like I was starting to get a realisation of the character, his contradictions and his humanity. However, I also feel that I didn’t leave myself enough time to fully realise many ideas as fully and successfully. The subject matter was extremely difficult to relate to, and while I’m glad that I challenged myself, I feel I can add more to this piece in terms of complexity, narrative and characterisation.

For a link to the story, click here.

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