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In On the Waterfront, how does Edie's role play a part in relation to Terry's quote,...

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xinchaoyo | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted April 23, 2012 at 5:29 AM via web

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In On the Waterfront, how does Edie's role play a part in relation to Terry's quote, "I'm standin' over here now. I was rattin' on myself all these years and didn't even know it".

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:51 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that Edie plays a role in Terry's idea of "rattin' on myself" because she represents the normalcy and sense of control over his life that he had been lacking for so long.  In his relationship with Edie, Terry recognizes that there can be a positive construction of identity.  As opposed to remaining someone silent or more of a tool of the external powers around him, Terry can be with someone and in "rattin' on myself," he can act in a manner that brings some level of dignity and autonomy to a life that lacked both elements. The fact that Edie represents this type of transcendence in mortality is what makes her a more recognizable figure to Terry than, to some extent, Father Barry.  While Father Barry might speak of religious notions of the good that could be seen as "other worldly," Edie is real, of this setting.  The fact that there is both an emotional and sexual attraction between both she and Terry helps to illuminate this. It is this reality that causes Terry to "stand over here now."   In the process, Terry recognizes that in order to be happy with Edie, he must stand and "rat on himself" and recognize that the life he had been living was predicated on fraudulent premises and ideas.  It is here where Edie plays a major role in Terry asserting his own voice of what is right and "rattin' on himself." 

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