A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz: The avoidance of living fully to avoid destiny, which is what they fear

June 2014. In this literary essay, C.G. will analyze A.S. King’s use of the haunting idea of destiny to depict the restrictions that are put onto life to avoid the thing they fear.

A.S. King’s novel Please Ignore Vera Dietz has a recurring theme of destiny, more specifically avoiding it. The two main characters, Vera and Charlie, both bound their lives to avoid becoming everything that they ultimately fear to be- a carbon copy of their parents. Every action and decision made by each individual was done in defiance to succumb to the heavy foreshadowing of themselves that they saw in their parents.

Vera’s mother was seventeen when she became pregnant with Vera. From there, she lived her life drowned in regret of dropping out of high school and having a child so young. This was evident when Sindy had left her family when Vera was twelve, the only contact being fifty dollars in a birthday card each year. During a phone conversation, the first one in six year, Vera expresses her disdain for her mother by saying “I am instantly aware that she left us because she never wanted to have me. I am instantly aware that I don’t want her to come back, either.” (Smith 132). Vera’s hatred of her mother contributes to her avoidance of destiny. She was told after her mother left that Sindy was a prostitute and Vera continued to be wary of all sexual encounters and ultimately avoid boys altogether in fear of converting into a sex-symbol. Vera strongly believed that life decisions ran through blood as if it were “as easy as catching my future from a blood relative, then I guess I’m due to be a drunk, pregnant, dropout stripper any day now,” (Smith 15). Not only does her daily activities revolve around working a full time job, but also studying for her vocabulary tests for school. These two daily activities revert back to the disgust she has for her mother for not only being a prostitute, but for not having an education either. Vera revealed she was secretly in love with her best friend Charlie but refused to expose her feelings in fear that accepting affections from boys will put her on the path towards becoming a harlot just as her mother had been.
While Vera attempts to avoid her mother’s destiny, she is inadvertently sealing fate with her father’s. Her father is a known alcoholic, beginning his first drink at age ten and continuing from there. Vera uses alcohol to cope with the death of Charlie, “the night of the funeral, I took two shots of chilled vodka someone left laying around… I had no idea how much it would hurt my throat, but I loved the way it made me feel a minute later,” (Smith 84). While she fears becoming a prostitute, she forgot that alcoholism is very real in her family. She becomes dependent on a bottle of vodka to get through the day. She claims, “alcohol is not the problem- it’s the numbing. My father of all people would understand that.” (Smith 78).

Vera’s father also has full-hearted attempts to divert her from the destiny that he and his ex wife Sindy have placed upon her. He dreads the day that their actions become Vera’s consequences. “I warned Vera about the drinking genes, but she acts like its funny,” (Smith 127) her father expresses his troubled worries that she will not become her mother, but she will turn into him. Her dad openly tells her every rough detail of every ill decision they had made in hopes of him “giving her a chance to evade her destiny.” (Smith 26). Vera says, “If I could have control over my own world today, things would be different,” (Smith 298) proving that she thought destiny had dominance in her life.

Charlie was crippled with fear of the thought that he would turn into the abusive man his father was. Prior to his death, Charlie closed himself off from Vera in hopes to avoid the destiny of being violent towards the women he loved. He suppressed his feelings of love because of how his father claims he loves his mother, as he continuously beats and harrasses her. When in a particular heated argument, Charlie hits Vera, “and she loved me. So I hit her. Right when she said that, I hit her.” (Smith 240). In that moment Charlie’s greatest fears become true as he “met his destiny,” (Smith 247). Vera had immediately fear what Charlie had become “the night that Charlie hit me. For a split second, I became his mother in a vicarious body switch I had always feared,” (Smith 241), Charlie had thought that all his attempts of avoiding his fate of becoming the man his father had influenced him to be had failed and he had met his unavoidable destiny.

Ultimately, both Vera, Charlie, and Vera’s father had done what they did out of a strange mix of love and fear. Every secret and every hidden feeling was done out of love to save themselves and each other from their “destiny.” What none of them had realized was that “there’s nothing to ignore, and no destiny.” (Smith 294). The two kids had dire consequences that came with their innocent actions to avert their destiny, guilt for Vera and death for Charlie. Their regret of living in fear of the future instead of being indulged in the presence, wishing “we could go back in time and climb trees together again,” (Smith 314) expressing remorse for the past that included things, people, and relationships that the present and future will no longer include.

(C.G. 2014)