People with problems that they cannot seem to overcome often chose the road “suicide”. These problems can both be emotional and physical. And when the problem, that they seem to have, gets out of hand, taking their life suddenly seems to be the best solution. Some even thinks that the people around them will be thankful when they are gone. Or the suicide could be a way of telling them that they should have helped them. Either way, suicide is a desperate act.
And in this short story “yellow” by Peter Carty, they main character, Jon, ends up making the decision to commit suicide.
Jon, the main character, is in the late thirties, he is a bit overweight, but beside that he describes himself as being in good physical condition. He has a job at a magazine, which is why he is in Egypt to scuba-dive because when his stay is over he has to write about it. In general he doesn’t seem pleasant about his life; he has a girlfriend, but their relationship is substandard “the silences between them had multiplied, then lengthened into an empty continuum.
” And his job situation doesn’t seem any better, because his trip to Egypt and scuba-diving is definitely something he hates “Jon hated anything active or sporty”.
He connects scuba-diving with death, which is why he is so scared about it. He is horrified that he will drown, and therefore he is unable to stay calm under water. I think that what he is most afraid of is not the fact that he could drown, no; it is the fact that he would find himself devoured of emptiness.
“You could lose yourself in that, swallowed up and gone forever, a speck vanishing in the blue without sound or ripple. Buddhist talked of opening yourself up to emptiness – well, here it was next to him [..].” He is afraid that he would become nothing, a no one. That he would disappear into emptiness. “The magazine would let him go soon. His writing would dwindle, disappear down to a dot and vanish, his girlfriend would have left long before and he’d cast off from the last of his friends and relatives.”
He pushes himself to go through the diving because if he does he won’t become nobody or as they in the text call yellow. I think the word yellow is in the story used in the meaning coward or fool because a coward doesn’t often have the guts to face his own problems. And that is here the subject suicide comes in. Suicide is often associated with being a coward, because of the fact that a coward can’t handle his own problems. But Jon on the other hand believes the opposite; he thinks that committing suicide will show people that he isn’t a coward or yellow as they call it. He thinks that if he commits suicide while he is scuba-diving it would perhaps look as an accident and everyone will be affected by his death; Bertie, his diving instructor, Brian, the other diving student, his boss, who forced him to go, and last but not least his girlfriend will all see that they should have listened to him and therefore it will make him significant.
It seems like in “yellow” nature can invoke thoughts of dying. This is the same in the poem “suicide note” by Langston Hughes. In this the river is personified, being the one who asks the suicide to drink its water – which means to die. Nature reminds us that we’re just changing pieces of a puzzle and that we don’t have control and power over anything – and especially death. If we compare Jon to everyday life, he finds himself in an extreme situation.
I would personally feel uncomfortable if I was going to scuba-dive, because I don’t feel like I am in control – I can’t breathe like if I was above water. This feeling of no control is what the text “What is Reckless Op about?” is about. Some people love being in a situation where they don’t have any control at all. They love practicing extreme sports and pushing themselves to their limits. It is their way to feel that they are alive, because they often find themselves very close to death. However, Jon doesn’t fell a thrill by being close to death. He is very insecure about it. He doesn’t like to be on the brink of life – it makes him feel yellow. Jon’s life isn’t very satisfying and therefore he chooses the “easy” way out – which is committing suicide. But the ironic thing about it is that Jon’s sees his act as a not yellow thing to do.