Close Reading: An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender

Close Reading: An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender

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Close Reading: An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender
For much of her life, Mona Gray has lived a strange life after her father contracted an unknown disease. Mona soon becomes a quitter, and although she excels at many things, she always forces herself to quit. All of this changed when Benjamin Smith, the new science teacher, arrives. With his eccentric ways he is able to see through Mona when most people were not, including her family. Mona's perfect little world is threatened when she crosses paths with love and her soul mate, Benjamin Smith.
The most interesting two pages in this novel, An Invisible Sign Of My Own by Aimee Bender, were pages 221 and 222. These pages were really interesting because for the first time Mona displays some characteristics that were not seen throughout this novel. For example, the first paragraph on page 221 begins with an intimate moment between Mona Gray and Benjamin Smith. In this scene, Mona describes kissing the wounds of Benjamin, "there's no part of him I find better than the burns up and down his arms and I am kissing them over and over"(221).

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Here Mona finds a special connection with Benjamin as she refers these wounds as his "bathroom trip" and we know that Mona uses her own "bathroom trip" as her way to detach herself from personal feelings (as this was described earlier in the novel). And it is also during this moment that Mona admits to having "the smallest, most precious glimmer of trust" (221) with Benjamin. This type of behavior was never seen before from Mona and here the author makes a connection between these two characters as having a special bond. Another example of this special connection, and Mona seems to recognize it, would be where she describes as having a magnetic attraction every time she comes in contact with Benjamin, "the magnets are charging up" (219). From these few examples, I get feeling that Mona has an attraction for Benjamin and slowly falling for him. Earlier in the novel Mona has a boyfriend, but in no moment did she ever describe as having exclusive feelings for this particular man. Instead she proceeded with her "bathroom trip" and eventually breaks up with him with no explanation.
Also, during her intimate moment with Benjamin, Mona brings up a random thought that I found a bit strange, but Mona is perfectly okay with this because she has found that ease. Mona whispers to Benjamin that Danny, one of her former students, brought a severed arm to class as a "1" and "the parents rioted" (221) and she thought it was wonderful. Here, the author made it clear that Mona is not a normal woman, because no normal person would bring up such a random thought specially, during an intimate moment. Again we are able to see that Mona has the comfort to be able to express her personal thoughts with Benjamin without any risk of ruining the moment. Benjamin on the other hand, doesn't seem to be shocked by these comments instead he finds it amusing, "he starts laughing and laughing until his voice gets ragged and I can feel the room shift" (221). Once more we are able to see that Mona and Benjamin are two characters that are very much alike.
After the description of the severed arm, the author returns back to the intimate moment and she describes in great detail what is occurring during this instant. For the most part she uses a mixture of short sentences and long sentences to describe what is going on at that particular moment, so she really isn't following a particular format. But what stands out the most is how in great detail Mona seems to describe her encounters with Benjamin. She goes into great detail describing the physical aspects of Benjamin but at the same time she recognizes her weakness and panics. "I am in love with the way his elbow meets his forearm, the muscle on his shoulder, the hardness of his collarbone, the way he's made, so complete and simple, so mysterious and complicated, and I'm getting scared." (220). It is clear that Mona has feeling for this man, she has found love and what alarms Mona is that the urge for her "bathroom trip" will soon stand in the way.
"I need to go to the bathroom, I say" (220). Benjamin retaliates, "Too bad Mona Blue Green Gray because I am the bathroom monitor and you are not allowed to leave this bed" (221). When Mona is ready to let everything crash, Benjamin takes charge and refuses to let this happen no matter how much Mona resists. At the end of this clash, we see that Mona has finally become weak and is stopped from achieving her "bathroom trip" by Benjamin. During her intimacy with Benjamin she many times felt the urge to run to the soap. Mona describes in great detail how the wet soap awaits for her in the bathroom, "The soap rears up in the soap dish, lathered, foaming, eager, ready. Come in here; come ruin it." (220). Benjamin on the other hand does exactly what Mona asked from him, which was for him to be the bathroom monitor. This is the author's way to describe that Mona recognized her problem and was in desperate need for help therefore, asked Benjamin to be the bathroom monitor or knew all along that he was the one that could save her from this suffering. In the last paragraph of page 222, Mona is finally okay with not quitting. The author describes the soap as being dry stone. When Mona had the urge to quit, she described the soap as being wet, soapy, and calling her name. I for the first time see that Mona has failed at quitting and that Benjamin Smith, her soul mate and love were the motives.
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