6 Degrees of Separation

Essay by wisamrulezHigh School, 11th gradeA, February 2008

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The imagination. That's our out. Our imagination teaches us our limits and then how to grow beyond those limits. The imagination says listen to me. I am your darkest voice. I am your 4 AM voice. I am the voice that wakes you up and says this is what I'm afraid of. Do not listen to me at your peril. The imagination is the noon voice that sees clearly and says yes, this is what I want for my life. Its there to sort out your nightmare, to show you the exit from the maze of your nightmare, to transform the nightmare into dreams that become your bedrock. If we don't listen to that voice it dies. It shrivels. It vanishesThis is how Paul vividly describes imagination.

Good morning/afternoon to you all, as you all know I am standing here to talk about the book "6 degrees of separation"Its quite an interesting book once you understand what its all aboutBut first let's talk about the title, what does it mean exactly 6 degrees of separation?"Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that, if a person is one "step" away from each person he or she knows and two "steps" away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth" - according to Wikipedia.

Now let's talk about Paul, he is a young black con-artist, he is in his early twenties, very handsome, very preppy he longs for a life he does not have.

He comes into the lives of Ouisa and Flan and sequentially convinces them he is a friend of their children and son of Sydney Poitier. In turn they take him in, feed him, give him a really good night's sleepHe makes them, realize how meaningless their lives are living on the ritzy upper eastside, loaded with money.

He charms his way into their lives, cooking for them and telling stories. However they find out that he has also named dropped his way into their friend's homes and done the same. They try to find out how he knew so much and made the connections to them.

He infiltrates the world of upper-class, white New Yorkers, earning their trust and respect and money before his scam is revealedPaul is able to gain access to flan and Ouisa via Trent Conway, he learns valuable information about these families, bribing tent for a piece of clothingPaul: all there names, addresses, tell me about these people.

Flan and Ouisa are liberal, upper-class art dealers in Manhattan.

They are a pretentious pair desperate to make a deal with a wealthy South African to keep them in their swank lifestyleFlan is more concerned with material possessions than Ouisa.

Ousia: we could have been killedFlan: the silver Victorian inkwellOuisa: how can you think of such things, we could have been murdered?!Ousia has more of an imagination than flan; she admires Paul for wanting his idea of what they are and what they have, so much that he imaged himself in there world.

Ouisa: Paul looked at those names and said I am Columbus, I am Magellan, and I will sail into this new world.

She is grateful to Paul because he appreciates what he does not have, and what they have to offer him.

Ousia: he did more for us in a few hours than our children ever did.

The play also involves a Kandinsky painting to prove the point about everyone having two sidesThe play uses a series of flashbacks to create anticipation about the mystery of PaulThe breaking of the 4th wall happens at several intervals, speaking directly to the audience breaking the illusion that the characters lives are separate, creating the idea that we also choose between content and imaginationThe play also uses the theme connectedness; connectedness is the human need to belong within a relationship, or social group, connectedness is based on family, friendship, work, social status, fashion, etc.

Examples of Connectedness for Paul: he thinks he will less alienated, more connected if he belongs to flan and Ousia's world, if he has what they have (wealth) but there dream is falseExamples of connectedness for Ousia: imagination, as defined by Paul but pauls dream is false.