Good Morning America
Chapter 10 | Writer's Commentary
This post can’t be more perfectly timed. Welcome to my commentary on chapter 10 | Operation Exodus, where Professor Zemunke gets rewarded the oh-so-coveted green card and is moving his family of five to the US of A. In this family, is a begrudged Maskat who has only recently started tasting his freedom. We’ve covered a real-life story of this in the last episode of the Gumpcast.
Maskat does not want to let go of the autonomy he has just created for himself in Lamu. Moving across the world means that he will be forced to be under his father’s umbrella again, fight new bullies, and find some other way to make money beyond his current weed selling gig in Lamu with Jay.
(PS. They are moving to Reagan’s America so yeah, good luck with the weed habit Maskat).
This post is perfectly timed for two reasons:
1- I am writing you this having just landed in America for my first trip here since the pandemic started.
2- America has changed a lot in those past 18 months.
This chapter ends with a scene that eerily seems to reflect the state of America right now: Torn between two perspectives that are uncompromising and intolerant of one another. I feel the pain of this in my conversations, see it in people’s eyes, and find myself getting worked up about it myself when I am here.
Here is an excerpt from the end of chapter 10, where the family is on the ferry carrying them, their luggage, and their dreams away from Lamu and towards the hopeful horizons of living in America.
Zemunke frowned deeply and looked out into the open ocean trying to find a horizon to meet his gaze and give him hope in a future where people stuck by the rules and shared the common virtue of discipline.
Maskat stared the other way and imagined a future where rules may never exist, and a greater layer of freedom was born and boundless.
They both got locked in their own fantasies for a moment, and that the shores of the United States would bring each of them what they hoped for more of. Each of them believes that the other will, in time, come to terms with being wrong.
The relationship between Zemunke and Maskat and their failure to meet eye to eye is exactly how it feels to be in America right now. A deep sense of othering, where two counterparts want to go in opposite ways, which would be ok if it weren’t for the mere fact that they are both on the same ship
This gumption project started off as a compassionate inquiry into what makes a man become who he is. The novel’s themes which Paul and I discuss on the Gumpcast are tools to help us understand ourselves more so that we can talk to others. We have no choice but to understand ourselves right now.
America, good morning you gorgeous beast. I love you…so maybe just chill, and check out Chapter 10 below.
We can’t wait to share episode 10 of the Gumpcast with you guys. It is going to be a very special family endeavor that beautifully captures the essence of this chapter.
PS: If you want to start reading the book or dropped off at an earlier chapter you can go to the index here to catch up!
See you next week.