Some Things Don't Change

June 4, 2009
By Addison Lauerman BRONZE, Oak Park, Illinois
Addison Lauerman BRONZE, Oak Park, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

General Prologue:
The passengers boarded the commercial plane in an orderly fashion and everyone quickly took their seats. It was going to be a long flight for the travelers, who were traveling from ¬¬-various countries in Europe to the United States. All of whom were about to start their new journeys in a foreign country hoping for immediate success. All these passengers, all of different class, race, and ethnicity, were trying to make a life for themselves due to their lack of success for various reasons in their own native country. With the long flight ahead of them, the flight assistant set out to make the trip more bearable by setting up a contest. Each person on the plane would tell a tale. The one whose tale surpasses the content of the others, chosen by the head attendant and the pilot, would receive a free ¬one way airline credit valued at $250.
The passengers of the flight varied from a farmer, to a lawyer, to recent college graduate. There was a baker, Ania Dudek, who was clearly from Poland with her lack of English and strong polish accent. She was fifty three years of age and was travelling with her nephew who served as her translator for the duration of the flight and would assist in telling her story. Mrs. Dudek was travelling to the United States in hopes of bring Polish culture to the U.S., and the tactic she thought would be most successful would be opening a polish bakery, with her self-learned culinary skills to create amazing desserts. A widow of 15 years and mother of four grown children, all of whom currently live in four different states in the United States, Mrs. Dudek finally gave herself permission to leave Poland after she laid her mother to rest this past year. As most of her family now lived in the United States, Ania’s sister sent her son for her. Mrs. Dudek was a grumpy lady, who deep down felt that everyone in her life had deserted her. She packed a few things believing she would someday be coming back and reluctantly boarded the plane for her first time. With a rosary in hand, Mrs. Dudek found her seat and began to pray. Her strong faith in God would comfort her on this journey of uncertainty. She would go to live with her sister and nephew in a polish neighborhood in Chicago, and attempt to become more proficient in speaking English while depending on her nephew to secure a lease in an old store front building down the street from their apartment.
Then there was a writer. He went by Jean Baptiste, his pen name. Jean Baptiste recently accepted an offer to work for a column in the New Yorker. After getting the offer from the head of the magazine, Jean quit his job, broke up with his girlfriend of 7 years and left for New York within the week. He lived in a small town in France and recently graduated from one of the top colleges in Europe and is just beginning his new career. The New Yorker was looking to hire a young savvy twenty something year old to represent the younger generation of New Yorker subscribers. Jean fit the bill. His good looks and designer wardrobe did not hurt his chances either. Jean was tall, confident, and articulate. He had a twinkle in his eye that revealed his bright future just by looking at him. Jean was the life of the party. People loved to be around him. He frequented the hottest night clubs and restaurants in France and was very eager to be apart of New York night life. Jean was not perfect though and he never seemed to know just when to end the evening. There was always one more place to go and one more drink to have. His drinking has caused him to lose friends, jobs, and days of his life. If you are not on the party train with Jean, train was still leaving on schedule. Jean did not even consider asking his long term girlfriend to join him in New York. He just was not that into her. As gorgeous as she was, Jean had a wondering eye and love for women in general.
Seated across from Jean Baptiste was Mlada Lukiv. Mlada, from the Czech Republic, was referred to the family that she is going to au pair for by her cousin, who quit since she is pregnant with twins and wants her kids to grow up at home in Prague. Mlada is newly single after recently leaving her fourth engagement, as this man had no interest in moving to the United States with her. He had a very successful business in Prague and thought he and Mlada would live happily ever after together in Prague. Mlada is in her mid-thirties and still has still not excelled in learning her English. She is worried that the language barrier will keep her from working with this family long term. Her biggest fear though, is her financial security. Mlada has always had a rich boyfriend to take care of her. She has never worked and always lived a luxurious lifestyle thanks to all of her wealthy courters. Her gorgeous dark hair and amazing body caused people to stop what they were doing whenever she entered a room. She used her looks to get what she wanted and jumped from man to man. Now, however, was different. She craved the idea of living in the United States and making her dreams come true. Mlada was interested in fashion. She someday wanted to become a fashion designer and New York was just the place to learn. Since her last fiancé chose not to join her, she was in a whole new ball game.
The fourth person seated next to Mlada and across from Jean and Mrs. Dudek, was a young man traveling home after his service in the army was cut short due to a serious injury. William Clark, aged twenty eight, served nine months in Iraq and got his leg run over by an army vehicle as he was taking cover from approaching terrorists. He sprawled himself on the side of the road as if he were dead and waited for the vehicles to pass. The last one, as if on purpose, ran over and smashed his right leg. Saving his leg was still questionable at this point. On the plane, William was rather quiet and fidgety. He appeared anxious and spent most of his time staring out the window and checking the time on his watch. Although William’s leg was a massive and life altering injury, his emotional wounds may in fact, be taking a greater toll. He exhibited all the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and although he longed for adequate sleep in his own bed for months, this possibility no longer mattered. William knew he would never sleep well again.
Geoffery Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales depicted many important verbal portraitures which provided a historical account of life in England. When considering Chaucer's classic Canterbury Tales to a modern day version of the Canterbury Tales of sorts, it is important to define how the pilgrims embody many of the same characteristics, yet have distinct differences.
Chaucer’s knight had several attributes that were also present in my modern day passenger traveling back from the army. The introduction emphasized him to be, “the idealized Christian soldier who fought with valor and honor at most of the important late-fourteenth-century battles” (67). This is similar to William Clark's experience while in Iraq as he described the honor and bravery involved in being a soldier while telling his tale. Many of the passengers of the plane admired Clark for what he had encountered and endured in Iraq as he exhibited so much patriotism and loyalty to his country. This loyalty and honor characterized the knight. Geoffrey Chaucer described the knight as, "never in all his life had he been rude to anyone at all. He was a true, perfect, gentle knight" (19). The knight's disposition, however, was not present in William's character. Rather, William was quiet and kept to himself. He was not a perfect gentleman, but a scared and wounded young man.
Mlada Lukiv, the au pair traveling for her job, has had similar life experiences to the Wife of Bath. Her prologue describes how she had been to the church five times and exited married each time. Both young women have been dependent on their men for certain needs, and the Wife of Bath believes that she is repaying them with sex and using that to control the marriage. She used her experience with marriage to tell her story. While telling her story, Mlada speaks with her knowledge of relationships with men as well.
Though not mentioned in the General Prologue, the Nun’s Priest has a definite religious aspect, along with the modern pilgrim coming to start her bakery. Ania Dudek with a rosary in hand prays before taking off on the flight to her new residence. The Nun’s Priest is one of the three priests who accompany the Prioress on the pilgrimage to Canterbury. Both are passionate in their beliefs of religion and take strong actions to get through circumstances calmly. The Nun’s Priest’s wittiness and ability to generate a well thought out story differs from Ania’s who speaks little English and is often ill-tempered while listening to the others’ stories.
Immediately as the Miller began to speak and tell his story the Host could instantly tell of his drunkenness. On the flight to his new home, Jean Baptiste shared his drinking problem with his fellow passengers. Though he was not intoxicated on the plane, by the way he spoke if his nights out, it was apparent that there was an issue. The Miller, “who was all pale with drunkenness, so that he could hardly sit on his horse,” could not control himself entirely, similar to how Jean explained himself to be several days of the week. The Miller is spoken of his imperfect manners, including his skill to “steal corn and charge three fold” (45). This is unlike Mr. Baptiste, who is always sophisticated and courteous.

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