Xanther’s epilepsy

From the start of the novel, it is evident that Xanther is quite a unique character. Although only 12 years old, she faces the unfortunate reality of having to endure epileptic episodes. As many have expressed on the forum, I find myself mainly concerned and attached to the Xanther sections. Her narrative allows the reader an entrance into the mind of not only a brilliant and yet still inherently naïve young girl, but also into the mind of someone prone to epilepsy. When Xanther is speaking, her rambling is extremely sporatic, causing me to pause and speed up at abnormal areas. Her frantic and spastic nature personifies her illness, and leaves me on edge every time I read through her sections. One particular scene in which I felt Xanther’s epilepsy was extremely personified was when she was testing Anwar’s game. The predator chasing her had not yet been defined, and Xanther was running through the game trying to escape its grasp. While reading this part, I kept thinking of her illness as this dark cloud that hovers, threatening her, causing her to try and out run and evade another epileptic episode.

The parenthetical information provided gives a direct window into Xanther’s subconscious, and grants her a unique voice that helps us to understand her character. Just like the jingjing and shnork sections carry diverse dialects, the Xanther sections, also have their own “language”. The way Danieleswki provides misspellings and pronunciations written phonetically instead of correctly, connects us to Xanther and the way her mind works (once again inspiring a sense of child-like innocence that connects to the reader). For example, whenever Anwar refers back to the time he read Xanther Homer’s “The Illiad”, Xanther remembers it as “I –lion”.

Anwar and Astair’s constant concern for the well being of Xanther, and their (understandable) paranoia as to when the next seizure might occur, gains the reader’s sympathy, which I also believe makes the Xanther sections more appealing and relatable. Xanther’s disease not only dominates over her life, but the lives of every member in her family. Her twin sisters seem to cling to one another out of a sense of neglect; Anwar and Astair burden themselves financially in order to attend to their daughter’s needs. Furthermore, when Anwar and Xanther return from Venice the first time, Astair sees Xanther all bloody and bruised, and immediately is frozen with fear. The shape of the text all blurring together, and her delirious state appeared to me as if she herself was having a seizure. She wasn’t able speak, and the way the words were blending together made it seem like she her vision was fading from this extreme and nightmareish situation. The same could be said for Anwar, when Xanther runs out of the car, he has a break down that is described similar to one of Xanther’s epileptic seizures.

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2 responses to “Xanther’s epilepsy”

  1. griffid2015 says :

    I definitely agree that Xanther is endearing and interesting, but I also think your suggestion that Anwar may have had a seizure in his panic over seeing Xanther in such a state is really interesting. If nothing else, his reaction definitely spoke to his love for his daughter. As you said, we see multiple instances of Xanther’s parents burdening themselves to help her, and after Xanther jumps out of the car, Anwar’s frantic stream of consciousness narration makes his voice as frantic and nonsensical as Xanther’s during one of her episodes. Anwar’s behavior in that section is further proof (as if the other examples of he and Astair doting on her weren’t enough) that his daughter means everything to him. Anyone who has lost track a kid that they were supposed to be watching definitely know how Anwar felt in those moments- it’s definitely a a bit of a psychotic episode in itself.

    • bnacuesta says :

      I also agree that it is interesting to say the least (heart-wrenching to say the most) that Anwar and Astair are so intuitive when it comes to Xanther’s well-being, and for Anwar to absorb the anxieties and epileptic symptoms that Xanther experiences is a testament to the love they have for her. Just as Xanther picks up on the triggers and early symptoms for an attack, Anwar is mapping her reactions to stimuli at all times, such as when he thinks, “were it not for one of her wildly pumping legs <> sometimes <> signaling the onset of an event> is that what’s on the immediate horizon?} Anwar’s breath always coming up short at just the thought]” (394). It is heartwarming that Anwar has embraced Xanther as his own and it becomes evident that a biological link is not a prerequisite for the biological responses that Anwar experiences.

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