Even though the novels/plays we have read in class, at first glance, do not appear to have a lot in common with each other, all of them deal with the importance of telling a story. Telling their story, and how it affected those around them, is the only way Gallimard (M. Butterfly), Tyler and Mala (Cereus Blooms at Night), D. Jekyll (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Alison Bechdel (Fun Home), and the unnamed narrator of Written on the body have in order to cope. As Tyler realizes in Cereus Blooms at Night, the other options for “those of us, feeling unsafe and unprotected [are] either […] running far away from everything we know and love, or staying and simply going mad” (Mootoo 90).
Had Jeckyll found a way to share his story before trying to cast off “the doom and burthen of [his] life” (Stevenson 43), maybe he would have found a way to cope with his ‘dark side’, instead of creating Hyde. However, because he was too scared to share his story in order to be “relieved of all that was unbearable” (43) Hyde was created, and Jekyll had to go through the horror of his doom and burthen returning “with more unfamiliar and more awful pressure” (43). In the End, the only way he could cope, could die with a feeling of release, was by sharing his story with Utterson.
In a similar way, Mala might have been able to escape her father’s abuse, had she not kept quiet about it. In the end, Tyler shares her story with the world, as she is not able to, offering her and him, as their stories are intertwined, a chance for release – a chance to cope with their past and present. Tyler realizes the importance for Mala to tell her story, in order to reconnect with her sister. What he does not realize at first however, is the importance for him to tell his own story. In the preface he makes clear that his “own intention, as the relater of this story, is not to bring notice to [himself] or [his] own plight” but then goes on to ask the reader to “forgive the lapses […] and read them with the understanding that to have erased them would have been to do the same to [himself]” (Mootoo 3). He needs to tell his own story in order to cope with his difference, and to explain how Mala played part in his journey to find his own gender identity.
Telling their stories helps both Jekyll and Tyler to come to terms with who they are and that they cannot change that, no matter how hard they try to be something/someone else, something ‘normal’, something ‘better’.