Play It as It Lays

The Victim And The Oppressors Play it as it lays, a novel written by Joan Didion is a great example of how life can overwhelm someone’s emotions. It is a story about an amateur actress whose life has had emotional changing experiences since she was young. Play it as it lays takes us on a journey with this young woman and her incapacitated life. The main character, Maria, finds herself aimlessly engaging in activities reluctantly due to the lack of control she has over her life. Maria’s family is one aspect of life she is detached from. Maria is separated from her husband Carter Lang.
Together; they have one child named Kate. The fact that Maria and Carter are separated seems to evoke feelings of helplessness for Maria. She is left alone and resorts to memories for comfort. Feelings of vulnerability and constraint seem to be a reoccurring theme in her life. Maria has no control over Kate. Due to medical conditions from birth, Kate must be under constant medical supervision. Living under medical supervision is what is normal for Kate. As a result, Maria is left feeling dismal because there is nothing she can physically do to help her daughter.
Maria has a sense of being in control when she drives the freeways. Maria drives the freeways everyday in the summer, with no intention of arriving anywhere. She can speed up or slow down as she likes and travel any direction she wants. Unless she is driving on the freeway by ten, Maria’s rhythm of the day will be thrown off. One day when she drives past her usual turning point, Maria drives too far and she is thrown of her normal schedule. On the way back from her drive, Maria encounters darkness and traffic. This is uncomfortable for Maria because she cannot drive as she wants and in turn loses her freedom.

After that day she stops driving the freeway unless she needs it to get somewhere. The people involved in Maria’s social life control and deceit her. Maria is easily coerced in to situations. A major example is when a producer named BZ tells Maria he will take her to a party. Although Maria shows signs of hesitance, BZ uses ridicule to make her feel uncomfortable and reply with only, “I’ll see you at seven-thirty. ” (Didion 16) In this situation, Maria is mocked directly and she does nothing to defend herself. Another leading example of oppression is when Carter tells Maria to get an abortion if she wants to keep Kate.
Maria subjects her body to dangerous surgery performed by someone she does not know personally because of an ultimatum with Carter. Throughout this whole process Maria is the least in control of her own body. After being insulted, traumatized, and kept distant from her daughter we find Maria is the victim of oppressors in her life. Do you believe she is responsible for what happens to her? Maria’s passive attitude about life effectively leaves her not living energized. So she idly moves though tasks and commands from her family and friends. Work Cited Didion, Joan. Play It As It Lays. New York: Farrar, Staus, Giroux, 2005. Print

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