Continental Drift


On the surface, Continental Drift and The Oddyssey are very different. The two protagonists, Bob Dubois and Odysseus, are as unalike as two men can be. Bob is an average man with an average life. He works for one man so that he can pay bills to others, trying to make what little money is left supply his family with the needs, both real and imagined, that every family has. Odysseus is a mythical figure, the ultimate man. He surpasses his peers in every manly endeavor, "Then there was no man who wanted to be set up for cunning against great Odysseus; he far surpassed them in every kind of stratagem," whether it is with his wit, bravery, skills as a warrior, strength, or charm, (Homer, 54). Odysseus represents the timeless virtues of masculinity that all men, including Bob, desire. That Bob seeks to break the free of his average life, tries to become something other than the sad normal man that his father was; that he endeavors to become a great man, is what brings these two stories together. As the men in The Odyssey look to Odysseus as the touchstone of masculinity, Bob Dubois looks to the men in his life in his attempt to become a good man. Bob wants to become a mythical male, "handsome, of course, and sexy and good-humored; he?s not rich, not yet, {?} he?s kind and gentle, tender to women, children and animals, without being sentimental, however, because after all, he?s a "man?s man" as well; he?s a stern yet jocular father to his children, and he can take care of his wife too, can assume a custodial role in her life, honoring and attending to all her needs," (Banks, 133). Odysseus represents the benchmark in Bob?s quest to rise above the multitudes, his level of excellence in every aspect, what Bob hopes to attain by emulating the men he respects, while trying to avoid the example of those that he does not. The fact that Bob fails in his quest only adds to the idea that like Odysseus, who is a mythical figure whose traits are nearly impossible to mimic, the men that Bob sees are mythical, they exist only in Bob?s perception of them. That Bob fails is to be expected. He is trying to become the perfect image of a man, the kind of image he sees in Carl Yazstremski, Ted Williams, and liquor advertisements. Bob wants to be the kind of man that he thinks his brother Eddie or childhood friend Ave are, the kind of man his father was not, but there is no real depth to the images that Bob perceives, no truth behind the facades. This is best exemplified by Bob?s image of his Brother Eddie, who Bob says "sure as *censored* seems alive to me," (Banks, 28). The distinction that Bob makes between being alive and being dead, which he thinks he is, relates to an aspect of selfishness in Bob. Different events or benchmarks mark off life times: the first tooth, the first date, graduating high school, getting married, etc. If a person has a profession, one that allows for continuous growth and increasing income, a new level of benchmarks become available. Bob does not have these options, however. He is involved in a trade that, while steady and dependable, does not offer the chance for personal or financial growth. Because his life has become stagnant, because he has no more benchmarks to measure himself against, and his prospects only look to improve slightly, Bob believes that his life, or more accurately, what life means to him, is over. Now that Bob is settled into the life that most people in his part of the world try to obtain, he feels that there is nothing left for him to do, and so he focuses on the success he perceives in other people and resents the fact that he will never have it living the same safe as his ancestors in New Hampshire have lived. Eddie is the very picture of the success that Bob wishes to obtain. Eddie has it all, a beautiful wife, an impressive house, an expensive car, two boats, Eddie is his own boss, and most importantly, Eddie has a seemingly endless line of prospects that offer him a limitless future. Eddie made his own way