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Differently – Maya

“Maya was a surprise. She opened the door herself, barefoot, wearing a long shapeless robe of coarse brown cloth that looked like burlap. Her hair was long and straight, part high at one temple. It was almost the same dull-brown color as the robe. She did not wear lipstick, and her skin was rough and pale, with marks like faint bird tracks in the hollows of her cheeks. This lack of color, this roughness of texture about her seemed a splendid assertion of quality. How indifferent she looked, how arrogant and indifferent, with her bare feet, her unpainted toenails, her queer robe. The only thing that she had done to her face was to paint her eyebrows blue — to pluck out all the hairs of her eyebrows, in fact, and paint the skin blue. Not an arched line — just a little daub of blue over each eye, like a swollen vein” (505).

Maya is a critical character in this story, both in present day reflection of her and in the past when Georgia was with Miles. Maya was first introduced to Georgia in the passage above, though the plot of the story begins well after that point — after Georgia got to know her, became best friends with her, had a falling out with her, and found out about her death. The point in the relationship with Maya at which the section of the story takes places lets the reader know where we are in time. The fluidity of time and location is cemented through the use of the relationship between the two friends.

The reason I highlighted the passage above was because it so clearly and vividly captured the essence of Maya’s eccentric character. This description develops Maya’s character quite thoroughly through the use of imagery, a comparison between what is considered normal and how Maya behaves, and also her indifference. This passage tells us that Maya behaves strangely, knows that she is behaving strangely, and does so intentionally. This passage makes her burlap colored hair, uncomfortable sounding bathrobe, and outlandishly colored eyebrows seem entirely believable. My favorite line her is about “How indifferent she looked, how arrogant and indifferent” because it defines her character’s personality which later rears it’s ugly head during the double affair.

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