Musical Consciousness

On The Line presents a reader with an alternative mind on how to repel the everyday routine or monotonous work of average daily activity. LeRoy works in the most extreme case of continuous, repetitive, and relentless work; the assembly line. What I notice as a vital point in the novel so far is the use of onomatopoeia and other language that indicates music and sound as an outlet of consciousness. 

 

In the first chapter, we find out that LeRoy is going to get married and have a baby, and is very willing to work on the assembly line for automobile parts for some easy money while he kick starts his career in professional singing. The world of a struggling artist is fully represented in this novel- we all know this person. In fact, we all very well may BE this person. This is a story of “the poet,” working a day job as a bus boy and visiting publisher after publisher to get his work known. However, I make an automatic connection with the use of music in this novel as soon as Kevin comes in as a supporting character, specifically in the moments where musical words are weaved into the narrative; “solfeggio”, “baritone”, “buzzing”, and “bang-hiss!” 

 

Since LeRoy is black and Kevin is from Ireland (and I am reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) I draw a connection between racism, lower class, and labor just as in Christ and Concrete. I feel as though the movement of sound can be considered the “fiesta” that we just discussed from the previous novel. It is a way to relieve the characters of the heavy weight of every day work, like LeRoy says, it’s something to look forward to. It’s the means to push forward (15). The moment he went back to work after his neck injury, he could no longer sing because of his raspy voice. Immediately he is shown without a smile, without a hope, and almost unwilling to continue his day job or associate himself with the other workers. At the end of this first chapter, LeRoy definitely shifts from the naive innocence of thinking anything is possible as in “why wouldn’t I be able to make it in the opera?” to almost forgetting that he thought that way.

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One thought on “Musical Consciousness

  1. Nice set of connections here. I’ll focus on your last point and mention that there are many references to “cultural production” amid the industrial production of the line workers: LeRoy’s singing, but also Walter’s quasi-interviewing of workers and, later, Harold’s artwork. So one of the questions here is, how does the experience of industrial labor make it into art, the realm of representation?

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