Rickie, the Metamorphosis, and the Odyssey

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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Rickie, the Metamorphosis, and the Odyssey

Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jun 26th 2004, 3:20 am

An interesting bit of foreshadowing from The Zit:
Rickie: Where's the teacher?

Brian: It's Rinaldi. Half the time, he doesn't show so...

Jordan: Hey, uh, you, you know that, uh, that, that paragraph or whatever we have to write, about that bug guy?

Brian: The Metamorphosis?

Jordan: Yeah, that.

Brian: Um, it was due already so...

Jordan: I know. I got extended. They said if I don't turn something in, then they're gonna stick me back in remedial...which I'm just, you know, not in the mood. To be treated like dirt. So what happens after he turns bug? I, I mean, how's it end?

Brian: Well, he dies. Um, they basically kill him.

Jordan: They who?

Rickie: Wait, what book is this?

Jordan: Wait, who kills him, the exterminators?

Brian: No, his family.

Jordan: Oh. So, so he never, like, uh, turns back.

Brian: Nope, and they, um, they turn on him.

Rickie: But why?

Brian: 'Cause, he's a giant cockroach. And they, like, they can't handle it. They're, like, repulsed, so...they, um, abuse him, they, they, they starve him, but what it seems like when you're reading it, is that, um, he dies from loneliness.

Jordan: Seems possible.

Rickie: What? Wait. So, if they're starving him or whatever, then why doesn't he just leave?

Brian: 'Cause, what's he gonna do, check into a motel? He's a cockroach.

Jordan: Hey, "Roach Motel."

Sharon: The point is, is he's the same person...inside. No matter what he looks like.

Rickie: All the same, if I were him, I'd be out of there, so fast.
Although this conversation takes place months before So-Called Angels, there are striking parallels between Gregor (the protagonist in The Metamorphosis) and Rickie's situation. Although Rickie doesn't turn into a bug, his uncle/dad realizes that Rickie is gay and "can't handle it." Rickie does mention in Father Figures, "I'm somewhat afraid of my dad. I mean, in the past, my dad has broken down my door." From this admission and the black eye he is sporting in So-Called Angels, we can glean that, like Gregor's family, Rickie's Catholic family is "like, repulsed, so...they, um, abuse him."

When discussing Gregor's situation, Rickie insists that if he was mistreated by his family, he would leave. In So-Called Angels, we see that this too has come to pass, although it is never quite clear whether Rickie has left voluntarily to escape the abuse or has been kicked out (or, as the policeman phrases it, "Is this kid a runaway or a throwaway?"). Angela does tells Brian, "for some reason, [Rickie]'s scared to go home," but we are left to decide for ourselves whether Rickie is afraid to go back because he has run away or because he was told not to come back; however, in Resolutions, Rickie learns that his family has moved without leaving a forwarding number, which seems to indicate that Rickie is not welcome to rejoin his family.

In Resolutions, Mr. Katimski has the class read Homer's Odyssey and asks them to write an essay about what Odysseus wants (the answer is that he wants to get home to his family). Rickie describes Odyssesus as "this lonely guy that wanders the world for, like, many years," again providing a parallel for what he is going through himself, wandering from place to place (in So-Called Angels he goes from Rayanne's to Brian's to Angela's in a single night). In the figurative sense, Rickie has been wandering for quite some time. In Life of Brian, he admits to Angela, "I belong nowhere. With no one. That I don't -- fit." Previous to that in Guns & Gossip, he expressed his feeling of alienation to Angela, saying, "You just think of me as...as someone who's just, you know, around." We see him being roughed up by some of the guys at school, and people talk about him hanging out in the girls' bathroom. When he finally decides to use the boys' bathroom, he responds to the funny looks with, "What? I'm not allowed in here either? Jeez." Rickie knows that he is different and that he doesn't fit in with the mainstream, so he, like Odysseus, is wandering, trying to find his home, a place where he belongs.

Lastly, Brian says it seems that Gregor dies of loneliness at the end of The Metamorphosis. When Rickie shows up unannounced at Mr. Katimski's apartment at the end of Resolutions, he says, "Sorry. It just got so hard to be alone." Unlike Gregor, Rickie does not die of loneliness. Instead he finally finds a place where he belongs.
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Re: Rickie, the Metamorphosis, and the Odyssey

Post by Nostradamus » Jun 26th 2004, 5:54 am

candygirl wrote:Although this conversation takes place months before So-Called Angels, there are striking parallels between Gregor (the protagonist in The Metamorphosis) and Rickie's situation. Although Rickie doesn't turn into a bug, his uncle/dad realizes that Rickie is gay and "can't handle it." Rickie does mention in Father Figures, "I'm somewhat afraid of my dad. I mean, in the past, my dad has broken down my door." From this admission and the black eye he is sporting in So-Called Angels, we can glean that, like Gregor's family, Rickie's Catholic family is "like, repulsed, so...they, um, abuse him."

When discussing Gregor's situation, Rickie insists that if he was mistreated by his family, he would leave. In So-Called Angels, we see that this too has come to pass, although it is never quite clear whether Rickie has left voluntarily to escape the abuse or has been kicked out (or, as the policeman phrases it, "Is this kid a runaway or a throwaway?"). Angela does tells Brian, "for some reason, [Rickie]'s scared to go home," but we are left to decide for ourselves whether Rickie is afraid to go back because he has run away or because he was told not to come back; however, in Resolutions, Rickie learns that his family has moved without leaving a forwarding number, which seems to indicate that Rickie is not welcome to rejoin his family.
Was it ever explicitly stated that Rickie's father (or uncle, or whatever) hated him because he was gay, or was he just the sort of creep that beats on anyone who doesn't fight back? Obviously, Rickie doesn't do much to hide his personality at school, but he might have been in the habit of changing before he got home to avoid parental wrath, or his family might have been so insensitive that they never even noticed. I'm thinking here of Jordan's father, who didn't need a reason to attack his son, and didn't stop until Jordan grew old enough to stand up for himself.
Rickie knows that he is different and that he doesn't fit in with the mainstream, so he, like Odysseus, is wandering, trying to find his home, a place where he belongs.
In this light, Rayanne and Amber might be Sirens, luring Rickie with the promise of sanctuary until he crashes on the rocks of Amber's loser boyfriend.

:wink:

Seriously though, Rickie's Odyssey is in one respect even more difficult than the original: IIRC, Odysseus had the hope of returning to his family to keep him going; Rickie had to find an entirely new family somewhere on the stormy seas.
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Post by Jody Barsch* » Jun 26th 2004, 6:48 am

Totally agree with that reading. Although I never really took Rickie's displacement in "So-Called Angels" to be happening because his uncle/dad has just suddenly realized that Rickie is gay. I think partly it is a dysfunctional/abusive household in general (without really getting into what comes of using those labels, my point is that probably there would be some abuse no matter what Rickie is like), and partly that the abuse (physical, emotional, and mental) is in response to Rickie specifically, his sexual oreintation, mannerisms, style, etc. being a part of that, but I don't think that more than halfway through the series his family just suddenlty notices htese things about him and realizes all at once that he is gay. But that totally may not have been what you meant and I could have spent all this time responding to a line that was not meant to be read so closely.

Gregor wakes and sees the change, he asks what has happened to him. In the Metamorphosis it isn't a gradual change, slowly he grows antennae, his back hardens, he grows extra legs, etc. as we might see in a B sci-fi movie, it is a sudden change that happens in his sleep ... While within himself, Rickie seems pretty clear on who he is from the beginning of the series although his ability to acknowledge that, especially to others, is not as developed. His process of finding acceptance is definitley a process, which CG has tracked above, but what about hisself awareness of this difference, is it gradual, or is it sudden like Gregors... I could argue both ways (and have several times as I typed this, so proabaly what I have written makes no sense...)


Other stuff touching on the scene quoted above:
It always slightly bothered me that after the progression of Rickie's so-called odyssey, that the place the show sees him fitting in with is an older gay couple. Clearly I understand why this would be the envionment that felt the safest to Rickie (-- the opposite of what he had at his aunt and uncles, and the most likely offering a level of understadning/acceptance (although I am sure it was NEVER spoken or acknowlwdeged by them) that he had not experienced before, even with Rayanne and Angela), but still I find the underlying idea that this is the only place where he fits a little unsettling. Just slightly though because in later episodes we do see that Rickie does not retreat into this world, he does in fact (and possibly directly related to the confidence he surl=y gains from this stable and safe environment) Rickie reaches out beyond his circle of close friends, and speaks THE words he has never spoken before, to a relative stranger.

Something that has been a point of trouble for me: in "Resolutions" when Katimpsky is feeling guilty for not taking Rickie in, he shares his valid concerns of the repercussions that may come from such an act: "We all know what could happen, if we did take him in, if it got out, you realize what people could make of it? I'd lose my job, be crucified..."

But then in "In Dreams" he has all the drama kids over to his house, which does not seem like something you would do if you were concerned about it getting out that a student was living with you. The way that Rickie tells Katimpsky that he'll be down in a minute displays that there is a different relationship between them than just classroom teacher - student.



Why I love Jordan in this scene: this is unfaillingly one of the scenes always quoted by people arguing that Jordan is an idiot. I, on the other hand love him in it!!! With very few words Jordan shows himself to be vulnerable and empathetic: "Brian: ...but what it seems like when you're reading it, is that, um, he dies from loneliness." "Jordan: Seems possible."

And also, with the "roach motel" comment, Jordan proves that he can banter; he is able to use words to play with an idea, something that requires intelligence.



OKAY, so it is 3:40 am, my friend just called from Hawai and woke me up and I couldn't go back to sleep so I wrote this post, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't make sense, and I'm not enitrely sure that I really believe what I wrote during most of it (except the part about Jordan, I'll always come to Catalano's defense) so feel free to basically disregard this post.

Okay, I;m off to read to read the last story in Dress Your family in Corduroy and Denim!
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Re: Rickie, the Metamorphosis, and the Odyssey

Post by Jody Barsch* » Jun 26th 2004, 7:03 am

Nostradamus wrote:In this light, Rayanne and Amber might be Sirens, luring Rickie with the promise of sanctuary until he crashes on the rocks of Amber's loser boyfriend.
Nicely done! :!:
Nostradamus wrote:Seriously though, Rickie's Odyssey is in one respect even more difficult than the original: IIRC, Odysseus had the hope of returning to his family to keep him going; Rickie had to find an entirely new family somewhere on the stormy seas.
So true, no faithful Penelope and Telemachus to return home to. Maybe the angel girl in "So-called Angels" is Athena!
OH! and just like Odysseus who first disguises himself to ths suitors before revealing himself, Rickie tries to pass himself off as straight before speaking the truth (although this is hardly a planned tactic... On closer inspection this is not a real parallel.)

Literature, MSCL, me, no sleep in the middle of the night, bound to end up on some far out limbs :?

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I'm stopping b/c the list won't and this is not even the book forum. (Forgive these posts... there may have to be some serious edditing in the morning.)
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jun 26th 2004, 7:27 pm

No, I definitely didn't mean that Rickie's family suddenly realized he was gay circa So-Called Angels and then started beating him up. The abuse is well documented by this episode. In addition to the aforementioned quotes, we learn in So-Called Angels that Rickie has a history of being abused. Rayanne tells Angela, "See, Rickie has this, like, tendency -- to get beat up, and he doesn't always love talking about it." This indicates that Rayanne is aware of the abuse and that it is not a new thing. Rayanne is unconcerned that Rickie isn't at school (a stark contrast to Angela's state) and says that perhaps Rickie is "at some Sal Mineo film festival," suggesting that this isn't the first time Rickie has ditched school to recover (although another interpretation is that ditching is pretty routine to Rayanne :mrgreen: ). She then offers up the possibility that Rickie is staying at his cousin's place again because "he stays there sometimes." Again, Rickie escaping his uncle's home is not an unusual thing.

Although we don't know exactly how long Rickie has lived with his uncle, in Father Figures he refers to him as, "my dad, who's technically my uncle, but he raised me," which I took to mean that Rickie has lived with him since he was pretty young. Of course, we don't know if his uncle has abused Rickie since he was a child, but I agree with Jody's assessment that it's probably an abusive/dysfunctional situation before factoring in Rickie's sexual orientation but that Rickie's obvious style (speech, clothing, makeup) only add fuel to the fire and give his uncle more reason to abuse him. Most traditional Latino Catholic families to do not take well to gay family members dressing in flashy clothes and wearing eyeliner.

I think the reason that Rickie has never said out loud, "I'm gay" to Rayanne or Angela is that he knows he doesn't need to say it - they know and they accept it whereas he admits it to Delia only after she asks him, "You're gay, right?" I agree with what you're saying - that the first time he says it out loud, he says it to someone he barely knows, but I think it's partly because it's the first time one of his peers has directly asked him about it. Rickie's conversations with Angela about Jordan and Corey confirmed her assumptions that he is gay, so although he never came out to her in the traditional sense, he has let her know by sharing his crushes with her and Rayanne.

I, too, like Jordan's comments in the Metamorphosis discussion. The fact that he asks Brian to explain the story is a nice touch, because a lot of high school students are too proud to ask for help. He then admits that he is in danger of being put back in the remedial class, something that a lot of people would hide. He doesn't bully Brian into helping him - he simply asks. I like seeing his friendly banter with the other people in the room. Aside from the Roach Motel joke, he encourages Brian to pursue Rayanne, saying, "She wants you, man, go for it." Nice little bit of macho support there. In addition, the fact that he says it seems possible to die from loneliness hints at the kind of family life he has, long before we learn that he had to throw a chair at his abusive father to get him to leave him alone.
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Post by Jody Barsch* » Jun 26th 2004, 8:32 pm

Wonderfully put.
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Post by Leo » Jul 1st 2004, 6:03 pm

Nice posts from everyone on this thread. I love the connections the writers made from the characters' lives to classic literature.
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Post by TomSpeed » Jul 2nd 2004, 9:52 am

There are ways to keep people from knowing that Mr. Katimsky is gay and living with a man. He doesn't talk about his personal life at school. Rickie has told only people who he trusts where he lives. His friends don't talk about Rickie's life. Mr. Katimsky's lover isn't home when the kids are at his house during preparations for the play. Of course, these precautions aren't foolproof. There still is the danger of discovery.

Rickie's plight is portrayed realistically. Runaways and throwaways have very few places to go. Not many people will take them. Even Patty and Graham are reluctant to help Rickie. People who have been in Rickie shoes, like Mr. Katimsky and his lover, would be more sympathetic.
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Post by Jody Barsch* » Jul 2nd 2004, 12:57 pm

I do agree with you Tomspeed. I agree that Katimpky is likely to feel compassion for Rickie, and I do see the events of Rickie's search for a place to "fit in" realistcally played out ... I think I'm just slightly uncomfortable with the underlying message that the only adult who could help this boy is a gay man, when, in fact. their sexuality, as you said, is never brought into the forefront of their relationship.

In your opinions guys, do you view this episode thinking that before Rickie knocks on that door he knows, or suspects that Katimpsky is gay? If he doesn't, then I guess I really have no issue; Rickie is turning to an adult who out of know where, and out of no obligation, took a genuine interest in him. Which may have never happened to him before.

But in terms of being precautious, look at the audition scene in "Betrayal", as they walk down the stairs Rayanne says,
Just cause your crashing at the teacher's....
She is speaking only to Rickie and Angela, but she says it in a volume and space where anyone can here.

And again, at Katimpsky's house, it seems to me (granted that as the audience we clearly know more than the other characters) that Rickie's familiarity around the apartment and Mr. Katipmsky (altough that level of formal respect is always present) is revealing to any of the students who might have picked it up.

I'm not sure if any of that makes sense :?
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Post by TomSpeed » Jul 2nd 2004, 3:30 pm

I think Mr. Katimsky sees himself in Rickie -- he was where Rickie is now. I don't think Rickie knows that Mr. K. is a homosexual until he arrives at his house. But I think Rickie, after his initial dislike of Mr. K., begins to see Mr. K. as a person who cares about him.
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Graham: And how much of you?
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Post by johny 101 » Jul 3rd 2004, 3:36 pm

I, too, like Jordan's comments in the Metamorphosis discussion. The fact that he asks Brian to explain the story is a nice touch, because a lot of high school students are too proud to ask for help. He then admits that he is in danger of being put back in the remedial class, something that a lot of people would hide. He doesn't bully Brian into helping him - he simply asks. I like seeing his friendly banter with the other people in the room. Aside from the Roach Motel joke, he encourages Brian to pursue Rayanne, saying, "She wants you, man, go for it." Nice little bit of macho support there. In addition, the fact that he says it seems possible to die from loneliness hints at the kind of family life he has, long before we learn that he had to throw a chair at his abusive father to get him to leave him alone.
Yeah, I also like this scene and Jordan's comments, except for the "She wants you man.Go for it." line. Remembering the stuff from "Betrayal", it just makes my stomach roll a bit. :evil:

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Post by johny 101 » Jul 3rd 2004, 3:41 pm

TomSpeed wrote:I think Mr. Katimsky sees himself in Rickie -- he was where Rickie is now. I don't think Rickie knows that Mr. K. is a homosexual until he arrives at his house.
Well, I dunno.What about his gaydar?

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Post by BMW-rocks » Dec 30th 2004, 6:00 am

Well, I'm new to the site so please excuse me if I don't make sense or something. I've been interested in Mr.Katimski's character since he appeared, especially after seeing him with his lover. I'm disappointed that it wasn't cleared up a little more for us at least, even Rickie mentioning it once would have been nice.

When I see Rickie moving in with Mr. Katimski, I always think that Rickie would be surprised to learn that he's gay. Wouldn't he mention it, at least to Rayanne and Angela?

It bothers me that, as other people have said, that only a gay man would come to Rickie's aid when he needs it most. Rickie says himself that he's only ever said out loud that he's gay once, to Delia. So no matter how much you think someone is gay, until it is actually said, it can't be assumed true. So, why is Mr. Katimski so worried about Rickie, as if he knew that he was gay?

I think that the whole storyline with Mr.Katimski being gay would have added to the show, nothing drastic like having him fired, (as it's been suggested, I'm unclear of the reasons) but to at least introduce him and his lover to the rest of the characters. After Rickie finds someplace to stay it is just sort of ignored, he has a home, so nobody really asks about it.

I think that if MSCL had more time, this would have been tied up a little better. Overall, I liked the way it played out, but I was a little disappointed when it was basically ignored, even though Rickie's living arrangments aren't clearly permanent.
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Re: Rickie, the Metamorphosis, and the Odyssey

Post by Cami A. » Aug 10th 2008, 4:44 am

Wow, guys!
I've never tried to do an in-depth analysis of the literature the characters are reading in school and it's parallels to what the characters are going through. Okay, so it's quite obvious in the Zit that many of the characters (most obviously Sharon with her boobies :P) are going through some changes as in Metamophosis, but then there's also parallels with Anne Franke, Maclom X, and as y'all have mentioned, the Oddessy. When I have the energy I'll go back and attack this idea.

Is there another thread that specifically discusses the themes of the literature they read as it pertains to the plots and characters (a more general topic that talks about all the characters and books)??
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