Throughout our lives we face many challenges – some more difficult than others. What matters is if we manage to overcome these ‘tests’. Neil Smith writes about Max from “Green Fluorescent Protein” and Thomas Findley writes about Dr. Menlo in “Dreams”. Both characters face internal and external issues and we see how they try to overcome them. Both protagonists should be happy when we look at their comfortable lives. Max comes from a good neighbourhood and Dr.
Menlo is a successful psychiatrist. We then find out that Max is dealing with the death of his father and mother who is a recovering alcoholic and trying to create a ‘new’ life. “My father died of a brain aneurysm”; “She wanted everything new. New AA group… ” Dr. Menlo is introduced as a recent insomniac that is causing a rift between his wife and him, and making their home life very eerie. “Everett Menlo had begun to look and behave and lose his sleep like a haunted man. ” The characters both face drastic events that lead them to these points. Later we see that Kenneth Albright- a patient of Dr.
Menlo is what causes his lack of sleep and stress. Before Kenneth, Menlo was on top of his work and in complete control of his emotions. “He only knew Kenneth Albright had left this person’s body in Everett Menlo’s dream… that was the night Everett Menlo suffered the first of his failures to sleep. ” Kenneth causes trouble for Menlo like Ruby-Doo and the death of Max’s father does for Max. Ruby-Doo is all Max thinks about. It takes over his way of life, his thoughts etc. He blames his father’s death for this complicated and frustrating life he now has. I’m furious at my dad, for not being here to set me straight, for being stone cold dead. ”
He wants life to return to how it was just as much as Menlo wants life prior to Kenneth. To deal with it, Max keeps his father’s memorabilia and Menlo tries to avoid dreaming simply by staying awake. They both face major questions in their lives and are seeking the answers to gain peace. The doctor is trying to find the difference between dreams and reality. Kenneth Albright makes his dreams uncontrollable and confusing making him fearful because he’s used to being a ‘God of reason. “The blood is not a figment of my imagination. The blood in fact is the only thing not dreamed. ” While Kenneth is trying to explain his troubles he goes back and forth in wondering whether he is dreaming or not. “Answer me this- be honest: is there blood in dreams? ”
It’s not the blood he fears it’s that he can’t answer his own questions and this leads to insomnia. Max is fighting whether he is homosexual or heterosexual. He has deep feelings for Ruby-Doo and throughout the story is trying to fight his gay feelings for him. “Okay proof I am not queer… He so badly wants to be straight and ‘normal’ but sometimes responds to Ruby’s gestures, which in his mind confirms that he may be gay-”I swear I want to move away, but my legs stay put. ” Dr. Menlo begins dealing with his situation by finally opening up to his wife and trying to help her understand the situation and hopefully help him. As he slowly tells her, he begins to answer his questions and eventually falls asleep. “That night, when Everett fell into his bed exhausted and she did likewise… ” In seeking help from her he brought their relationship back and they were now there to support each other.
Max eventually comes to terms that he loves Ruby-Doo and in fact finds something beautiful in the midst of everything by just accepting who he is and what he feels. “It’s very weird and really scary and kind of beautiful in an unexpected way. ” Max and Dr. Menlo represent struggles we may not have but we have at one point felt the same emotion, fear and confusion. Both stories show that when we face obstacles, no matter how difficult they seem there is always a way to overcome them. Where life may throw tasks, it also throws tools to help you find resolutions.