5/04/2012

“Joaquin says to Mark, “I can show you how to carry the pain”. Does Joaquin succeed in doing this?

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“Joaquin says to Mark, “I can show you how to carry the pain”. Does Joaquin succeed in doing this?


Joaquin, as Elena’s grandfather, comes to New York to help Mark face the ordeal that he has been through and to help him deal with his trauma. Joaquin is the best form of psychiatrist for Mark because he has helped others in Mark’s situation and he has also had to “carry the pain” throughout his own life. Elena doesn’t understand that pain cannot simply be erased, that it must be death with and faced and carried throughout life. Through Joaquin helping Mark let go of Colin and his “guilt of the survivor”, he must also acknowledge the guilt that he himself feels then teach Mark the process of carrying the pain, and not letting it dominate or ruin your life. They both go through a journey and a process that starts with Marks initial experience in Kurdistan.


Mark developed his deep trauma when war, with which he felt he was truly immune and “separate” from, became personal. When “their feet fell from under them” on the hilltop in Kurdistan, Mark realises the true effects of war and the feeling of helplessness. He feels guilty over not being able to save his best friend Colin’s life. He feels guilty because he is relieved to be alive and guilty that he felt relieved when the massive weight of Colin slipped off his back. In the Harir cave Talzani asks Mark, “It’s not so easy without your camera?” and the question is true for Mark, who has never been personally connected to a war experience, but always by a camera that can distance “oneself from one’s surroundings”. Mark’s father, an ex-Marine, says to Mark that was “never stops affecting you”. Mark felt “besieged, gripped by a loneliness deeper than any he had known” and he doesn’t know how to deal with his trauma. He becomes “out-of-sync” and distant from his emotions, emulating those around him. Joaquin’s treatment helps this.


His initial treatment seems useless to Mark. He asks Mark to conversationally tell of his war stories and experiences. Mark tells of the “boy in Beirut”, the “cadets”, and the bone-collecting woman. Joaquin realises that Mark still deeply carries the pain and his guilt of living through all these experiences and still be alive. He realises that Mark is obsessed with the dead and what happens to them, and Joaquin tells him “forget the dead. It is the survivors who are important…lost…left to wander alone”, actually talking about Mark. Joaquin learns that the bane of Marks sorrows is that of Colin’s death and that Colin is still with Mark. Joaquin wants to help mark find a way back to normal and therefore live normally and with the pain. He wants Mark to accept responsibility and confess what truly happened in Kurdistan. But Mark holds it within himself until finally he is ready to accept responsibility and accept that “war is random” and any more deliberation is “self torture”. Joaquin wants Mark to accept and forgive himself.


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By travelling to Spain and helping Mark, Joaquin is also forced to forgive himself. He has had to carry his pain with him throughout his entire life. He has lost his family, his granddaughter, and according to her, his morality all because of war and this still traumatises him. He, however, can function normally and react to life and live with this trauma, where as mark cannot. For Joaquin, his major sense of holding pain is that of guilt over Carlos Perez’s death. At the Morales’ institute, Joaquin helped soldiers who had “done terrible things” by forgiving them, allowing them to repent their sins and therefore feel “purified” and able to go back into society. Some, however, had consciences and felt trapped by their guilt and pain. Joaquin was forced to become “the killer of killers” because it was the humane thing to do. “Pain is the most private thing in the world” and no once can be rid of it instantly � but there are ways of dealing with it. Joaquin feels deep emotional pain knowing that he killed “normal men” who became “beasts”, but he realises, through helping Mark and therefore himself, that it was a necessary action that resulted in other lives being saved.


Elena does not understand that mark cannot simple deal with his pain and return back to being normal, and she judges him harshly and thins lowly of him when he could see his friend die and not tell anyone the truth. She doesn’t realise that “war is an aesthetic…it is with peace time that we feel pain”. Joaquin, through the process that he takes Mark through, helps Elena to understand that Mark needs her support and forgiveness. As her mother tells her “You need to learn forgiveness” as Joaquin also helps her to forgive him and understand his true motives for working under Franco’s regime. Elena learns that war is emotionally and psychologically crippling and that all victims’ carry their pain with them, and the process and treatment Joaquin is using to treat Mark is helping.


Joaquin’s treatment of Mark enables all three main characters to forgive and accept pain. Mark is taught to live with his pain, not let it dominate his life, but still function with it. In the final chapter, when Joaquin realises that the only way for Mark to accept, forgive and find his way back from the dead’ is for Joaquin to relinquish his own secret and confess about the “unmentionables”. Mark then finally confesses about Colin’s death and he expresses the feelings he underwent and the guilt he lived through bereaved. Because of Joaquin’s treatment and being taught how to ‘carry the pain” Mark feels normal again and can once again think of the future. He learns that Colin’s death was not his fault, nor is he responsible for death and its effects.





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