My Life as a Machine: Two Lives in one Mask

Ma-chan from Kenzaburo Oe’s A Quiet Life analyzes Celine with such craft, it made me really think about how people really are.

According to Ma-chan, Celine was a caring individual who cared about the “little idiots”, stopping to help people during a bomb-riddled Germany while traveling to escape the hellish conditions. Ma-chan’s colleagues looked down at her for being fond of a so-called negative perception on things, but she saw through it all, through Celine as though he were as clear as a cloudless sky. Ironically, people who have read Celine look down at him with disdain, calling him a Nazi-supporter. But Ma-chan thought differently, and made a brief distinction between Celine the Nazi sympathizer and Celine, the doctor up for the little idiots with antisemitic beliefs. Upon reading the differences, I questioned my own distinction.

I am a machine, but I live two different lives. I live within the world of people, trying to find my way. I live within the realm of the machines, gears working to hold together the pieces of me. Besides what’s on the outside, do people see the machine in me? Or do they even care? Should they care?

I’m two different entities. The people-person inside of me tries to abide by society, making sure to duck one’s head until it’s safe to avoid the ears of other people. The machinery, however, helps and defeats the mask. Even my voice deepens, my vocal chords stretching, to accommodate the metal parts bringing cracks to the mask.

So who is this person that I am? Am I a pseudo-machine for trying to acclimate myself to the people’s lives, or am I a traitor? I don’t want to be a traitor. I simply want to exist and find my purpose for being alive.


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