William F Buckley quoted “If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey most of us would never start at all”. This quote relates to journeys, specifically to inner journeys with the intention that many journeys are difficult and if individuals knew how difficult the journey was going to be, then most of us would not even commence the journey. A journey is simply a movement from one place to another.
Physical journeys are gateways to inner journeys, which is a journey of the mind and spirit. Inner journeys take place when an individual experiences events or is involved in relationships that act as a catalyst to gain greater understanding about themselves and the world. Inner journeys can be deliberately initiated, but is usually the result of new circumstances where the individual changes themselves or their perspective of themselves, others or the world.
Cosi the play written by Louis Nowra, the poem from the stimulus booklet, The Road Not Taken, written by Robert Frost, the film Coach Carter, directed by Thomas Carter and the song lyrics At Seventeen by Janis Ian are all texts which show an inner journey has taken place where perceptions of an individual, others and the world has changed. In studying this concept of inner journey through these texts, my understanding of individuals, the world and myself has significantly been expanded and developed to a large extent, and I too have experienced an inner journey as my views of myself, individuals and the world has changed.
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In the play Cosi an inner journey takes place unexpectedly in the protagonist, Lewis. Lewis gets a job with mental patients directing a play and at first is apprehensive about working with mental patients, though Lewis learns to respect the patients and treat them as individuals. Nowra uses a range of techniques such as dialogue, contrast lighting and metaphors to show the inner journey and the change occurring in Lewis. The use of dialogue demonstrates the change in Lewis. Before Lewis began his inner journey he saw political issues more important than love and fidelity, ‘love is not so important nowadays’ Lewis says in Act 1.
At the end of the play, Lewis’s priorities, attitudes and values have changed as he realises that politics is not as important as love and fidelity. In Act Two, Lewis says to Lucy about the play ‘its about important things, like love and fidelity’ revealing that his priorities have changed. Lewis’s catalyst to begin his journey was his need for money. He says in Act One ‘I need the money, Lucy’, but by the end of the play he has grown to love the patients, become friends with them and see them as human beings ‘they need me…I’m not going to let them down’, Lewis says to Lucy in Act 2.
The contrast with Lewis, and Nick and Lucy highlights the change in Lewis, as Nick and Lucy do not change, and do not experience an inner journey as they continue to see the world in terms of politics, and never come to an understanding of the important things like love and fidelity. Some inner journeys do not result in a change, which is the case with the mental patients, though they do gain confidence and come out of their shells. Lighting is another way in which Nowra demonstrates Lewis’s inner journey, and his learning experiences.
The play begins in a burnt-out theatre, it is dark, which is a metaphor for Lewis’ lack of awareness, and Lewis is trying to find a light. In the middle of the play, during rehearsals, the lights go out and Lewis and Julie kiss. The lights come back on which suggests a transition has taken place, that Lewis is no longer ‘in the dark’ and is now at similar levels of the patients, as he starts to see them as ‘normal’. The outcome for Lewis is that he gains understanding and learns a lot about himself, others and the world.
My knowledge of inner journeys has expanded deeply, as I now know, not all people change extensively as a result of inner journeys, but learning experiences. The poem The Road Not Taken is an extended metaphor for life and the difficult choices we are faced with and must making during out life journey. The metaphor transfers the journey from a physical one. The persona is confronted with the choice of two roads, both fairly similar ‘two roads diverged in a yellow wood’, and must decide which one he wants to travel.
This is similar to Lewis’s situation where he has to decide between politics, and true love and fidelity and which is more important. The persona, with ultimately choosing the one that was ‘grassy and wanted wear’ and the ‘ one less travelled by’. He wanted to break away from the norm and experience something new. This road may be more rewarding despite the fact it presents more challenges. The inner journey is depicted through the use of language techniques such as, extended metaphor, first person pronoun, repetition and symbolism. The use of first person pronoun ‘I’ shows that it is a personal journey where choices need to be made.
The repetition of ‘I’ in the last stanza highlights the speaker’s solitude and that he is proud of the choice he has made ‘and I-I took the one less travelled by’, also emphasises that we are responsible for our own decisions on our own journey. It helps the audience connect to the poem and inturn reflect on their own inner journey experiences. Frost uses symbolism in the word in the first line of the first stanza in ‘yellow’ of the wood. This symbolises the season autumn and the autumnal time in ones life where time is running out and decisions need to be made, this demonstrates the start of his inner journey.
The speaker wants to choose both roads but knows he can only decide on one road to travel, and has regret in ‘Sorry I could not travel both and be one traveller’, this is like many of life decisions. In the end, the persona is satisfied with the decision and the inner journey has transformed him into a unique individual and ‘made all the difference’. In learning about Frost’s poem, it has helped me understand the difficult choices we are faced with making everyday and how we wonder ‘what if’ even after the choice has been made.
I have come to an understanding about the world as decisions we make today, have a huge effect on our future and what tomorrow will be like. It is evident that in Coach Carter an inner journey has taken place in the young characters, just like Lewis in Cosi. The film covers the story of Coach Ken Carter, a basketball coach given the job to coach a high-school basketball team, Caucasian and predominantly African American young, troubled and angry boys. Junior, Jason, Cruz, Worm and Kenyon are the only boys that change significantly, as a result of an inner journey.
Like the mental patients in Cosi, Coach’s son Damien, who is also part of the team, goes on an inner journey but does not result in a significance change, only learning experiences. The director, Carters uses various techniques including characterisation, contrast, language and dialogue to show the boys inner journey taking place. Coach sets rules and guidelines for the boys to follow with basketball and school and if they do adhere there are consequences. ‘I took this job because I wanted to affect change in a special group of young men’ Coach says. Coach is the boy’s catalyst for their inner journey.
Before the boys met Coach they were academically troubled as they were skipping classes as well as basketball practice and therefore losing a majority of their basketball games. Carter successfully uses characterisation of the boys throughout the film to show their alteration. Contrast is used in the language of the boys before and after their journey, to show that the inner journey has taken place to the audience. At the beginning of the film the boys used harsh, vulgar language, ‘nigga’ and ‘dog’. This is contrasted with their language at the end of the film, as they no longer use derogatory language instead, they treat people with respect.
This is shown in the language when they refer to Coach as ‘sir’. The boys eventually reach their expected grade point average and win all their basketball games. The boy’s alteration is shown through dialogue with the boys and Coach. At the beginning of the film, Worm rudely asks Coach ‘are you some country church nigga? ’. This dialogue is compared with the dialogue at the end ‘Sir, I just want to say thankyou, you saved my life’, Worm tells Coach. This shows that Worm’s inner journey was a success. Coach tells the boys ‘I came to coach basketball players and they became students, I came to teach boys and they became men’.
This dialogue of Coach shows the boy’s transformation from boys to men. The boys had two paths to choose from, like the persona in The Road Not Taken. The boys chose the path that was most difficult, as it would require them to work and study hard in school. Coach said ‘I promise to do everything in my power to get you to college and a better life’, and that’s exactly what he did. At the end of the film, the boys lost their championship, but they ‘achieved something that most people spend their whole lives trying to find, that ever-elusive victory within’. The boys learnt that there is much more in life than winning basketball.
Watching this film has helped me to understand that a relationship can act as a catalyst for inner journeys, and can have a significant effect on an individual’s life. At Seventeen, is a song and an example of an inner journey and how inner journeys can change an individual’s perception of things or people. The inner journey in this text is the journey of growing up and seeing life from a different perspective. It is Ian’s reflection of her teenage life at ‘seventeen’, the pains of growing up and what it was like being unattractive and unpopular when ‘names were never called when choosing sides for basketball’.
This song was recorded when Ian was twenty-four, by then she was older and wiser. In Ian’s younger years she was not socially accepted and back then to her, it meant everything to be a ‘beauty queen’. Through the use of techniques such as dialogue, first and second person, symbolism and past and present tense, Ian is able to emphasise her inner journey. Ian’s experiences of ‘lacking in the social graces’ and ‘inventing lovers on the phone’ are revealed through dialogue. This technique highlights she was once different and uneducated by the ways of popularity and lived in an unreal world to appear popular to society.
Her journey has transformed her into a mature adult and ‘it was long ago and far away’. She has now developed as a person because of her experiences as a teenager. The use of both first and second person lyrics in ‘I learned the truth at seventeen’ and ‘those of us with ravaged faces’ makes the song more personal and shows delve into the personas deepest thoughts, as she recalls them and allows the listener to identify with how she is feeling. It helps the listeners to empathise and connect with the song as many teenagers today are experiencing a similar inner journey of acceptance and adolescence life.
Ian has used symbolism in ‘ugly-duckling girls like me’, and the implication here is that she turns into a swan eventually, which symbolises that she grows into a well-accepted human being. This change highlights that an inner journey has occurred as Ian has learnt to accept herself and that there is more to life than looks. The technique of past tense used in ‘called’ and present tense in ‘call’ is used by Ian to reflect and show her perspective changing over time, as she has travels on the inner journey of life.
At Seventeen articulates that as you get older you view life differently because of your past experiences and inner journeys. These composers have each explored the concept of inner journey through various techniques to highlight the inner journey taken place. In studying these texts my understanding has been developed has expanded. I have acknowledged that inner journeys are an important part of everybody’s life and this allows individuals to gain greater understanding about themselves, others and the world.
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