Learn about how Sean utilizes his own contrived world to replace his loss of control in his real life by clicking here.
“Sean attempts to make his life fit into the framework of a game, a set of discrete narrative choices imbued with meaning by the game master and never veering from a controlled path. This choice, which brings Sean even deeper into those fictional worlds he had difficulty separating from reality, is his way of coping with trauma and specifically with the frightening ambiguity of shooting oneself in the face for no discernible reason”
Read the rest here.
John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van redefines trauma not as a symptom of psychological disorder but as a form of self-medication, a treatment to reign in disturbing thoughts and desires.
Sean uses the game Trace Italian to escape from the real world. Although he becomes separated from reality, in the end, this helps him personally recover from his trauma.
You can read my full argument here.
The controlling idea for my essay was that coping mechanisms are a good thing after a traumatic event, but if the person holds onto the coping mechanism compared to fully recovering the coping mechanism is harmful.
As Sean begins the long journey to recovery, he uses Trace Italian as an escape from the real world. Sean doesn’t want to recover and reach normalcy after the “accident”, rather he prefers to remain isolated in his escape.
In my analysis of Sean Phillips in John Darnielle’s novel, Wolf In White Van, I point out Sean uses his imagination and his role-playing game, Trace Italian, as a distraction to solve his inner emotional problems, as opposed to solving to them. Many will agree that Sean did not properly handle his situation, while others will disagree in saying that his fantasies were the only way to cope with his depression and isolation. However, beyond this small argument, I believe there is something deeper to consider.
In the middle of the Sean’s telling of his story, he shows signs of trying to really solve his own problems by reflecting upon his thoughts and motives before the accident. Yet, as so much time has passed of denying/coping with his problems, whichever you may argue, Sean can no longer identify with his past self – “that younger man was dead” (71-72). Wolf In White Van demonstrates that one can only deny or cope with their problems for so long the core issues of our lives catch up to us and remind us of our pain. These issues must be dealt with, head on, with courage and humility or else they will consume us and take our lives away from us. In the end, Sean Philips took his own life.
You can read my full length argument of Wolf In White Van here.
Featured Image Credit:
- The photo belongs to username BMclvr, of Flickr, which can be found here.
Wolf in White Van and Trauma: <– Link to the main page of the essay.
My controlling idea for this analysis is that trauma mainly exists in the minds of people as their representation of the real world and its problematic state. I also make use of the idea that we all turn to the worlds in our minds when we feel a sense of alienation from the real world outside of our minds.