Literary Analysis














English 102






7 April 2000



English 102Literary Analysis
In Search of Entertainment


Boredom is what comes after the basic needs are filled and it is what drives human beings to do what they do best, entertain themselves at any cost. In “Splinters” as well as in “Bad Boy Number Seventeen”, the main characters are so bored with their lives, as different as they are socially and economically, that they create most unusual hobbies for themselves and in the end up paying for it. These stories both focus on the lives beyond the basic needs. They focus on the mental hunger that comes after the physical hunger is satiated. If we as the reader understand that world of monotony and compare it to the world in which we create our own entertainment and our own fantasy, we can understand the motivation behind the actions of the characters in these stories.


Mark Karma, of “Splinters” by Melvin Jules Bukiet, is rich. He was not so when he was young and he spent a good deal of his life making himself that way. From his post college days he struggles with that mediocre monotony that leads him to be “thirty, married, baffled and balding, and returned to science fiction in his spare time, first for escape and then for sustenance.” (92) Things go well and after he realizes that he needs to make his literature as plain and flashy as possible for it to sell, things get even better. From then on he spends his days buying, selling, trading and entertaining himself in his daily toil. And in effect, through his work he manages to entertain himself. But what does a man who has everything do? Money is no longer an issue; he can spend it but it is not much fun without a purpose. So he makes his purpose the one thing that has been thought impossible to do: to put together the original cross. Not because he is religious, because even if he was he would belong to another faith altogether, “Son of a White Plains dry cleaner, urged but never convinced to believe in a vague suburban Judaism, the sacraments of which were lox and pastrami”. (91) What gets him is the challenge. Since the task is so difficult he can spend much of his time doing it and since it is so expensive he can put his money to use. Money is also a factor that gives him leverage in this form of entertainment, otherwise what was the point of making it?


…He had already purchased every other remnant of the cross that had come up for sale on the secondary market. Most of these relics were clearly bogus provenance, but he didn’t mind. His capital seemed endless, and though he was willing to haggle, he always, always, ended up with the merchandise. (100)


This is the point at which his hobby becomes an obsession. He spends more and more of his time working on it. He buys out every splinter that anyone will sell him and those he cannot buy he goes so far as to hire thieves and forgers that can duplicate the pieces he wants and then steal the original one from the safe it was in and replace it with a forgery. On top of all that he also would buy his own forgeries when they actually went on sale, just to avoid suspicion. (101) This is a man so bored with his life that he through trying to entertain himself ends up creating a deadly obsession for himself that is the basis of his religion: money.


…Karma has a sort of tunnel vision; he wants as much money as possible so he can obtain every piece of the cross…one might see Karma as completely blind because, although he has one center of focus (the cross), his lack of true faith supercedes it. His faith in the Almighty dollar…seems to leave little room for God and what many call religious values. In fact we see very few good values being displayed by the protagonist. (75)


This is the opinion of Holly C. Neibauer in her essay on “The Almighty Dollar: The (Pseudo) Religion of Wealth and Possessions in “Splinters”. Money does supercede everything in