A bit hard to swallow

I’m afraid I’m not completely sure what to make of Swallow Me Whole, particularly the ending, so I apologize for my subpar review.  There were a number of things I saw that I felt were important in some way, but couldn’t grasp beyond that.

I noticed that while both Ruth and Perry appear to be schizophrenic, Ruth doesn’t fight it, while Perry does.  Ironically, or perhaps because of this, help is sought out for Ruth while Perry’s issues are simply brushed off.

Though it’s implied that the characters experience hallucinations, I’m hesitant to say that none of it was real.  Near the beginning the grandmother is able to perceive somehow that Ruth also has visions, and later when they talk, she states “…if you call for it, it’ll be there.”

Some of her grandmother’s issues seem to be “passed on” to Ruth, as she has her epiphany shortly after her grandmother’s death, and looking at her face despite trying not to.  From this point onward it’s event after event until the end; her outburst at school, her parents finding out that she stole the frog from the museum, etc.  Throughout all this she’s able to justify all her behavior—to herself—until she is “swallowed whole” as it were.

On that note, Ruth’s visions are mostly manifested in hordes of insects, and her grandmother’s issues seem to be represented by that adorable little pill-monster thing, which is consistent with the statement that her hallucinations are medication-induced.  At one point the monster is depicted as swallowing the insects, maybe showing that Ruth’s condition persists, despite medication.  It could also signify that the nature of her issues has changed, so as to become more problematic.  So perhaps Perry’s feeding of the frog-vision at the end is an indication that another “passing on of issues” has occurred?

One thought on “A bit hard to swallow”

  1. Actually, you do a good job highlighting some of the major points and division of Swallow Me Whole. It’s a challenging work, and it doesn’t provide us much narrative scaffolding to help us make sense of it. That is, we aren’t given many clues as to what’s really happening. I’d guess that’s intentional, though, a kind of way to force us into the same bewildering perspective of Ruth.

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