Allusions in ‘A Dirty Job’
An allusion is defined as a “brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance, but that doesn’t describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers”. It is possible to find allusions everywhere we go, but specially in literature, it is easier to find references to a historical person or event in a text. ‘A Dirty Job’ is a book written by Christopher Moore and one of the reasons this story is so interesting is because of the large amount of allusions that it contains. These references give the reader a deeper meaning of the message that the author is trying to transmit and it also gives a sense of intrigue to think if there’s something else that the text is trying to tell.
The first allusion found in the text was Rachel dying by childbirth. This event can be an allusion to the recognized play, ‘Our Town’, written by Thornton Wilder, where after meeting and marrying George Gibbs, Emily Webb Gibbs dies by childbirth and she joins the people that have died already in the Gorver’s Corners town. In the book, this event happens in the first chapter and it gives the reader insight of what the story is going to be about. This allusion is important in this book because later on, when Charlie realizes he is a Death Merchant and that there are Underworld creatures, it can make a connection between them and Rachel’s death. When Emily Gibbs died and joined the deceased people from her town, she wanted to go back to life. In relation with the book, Charlie is the one that has that desire of having Rachel back to life, and even though it’s not possible, it’s known that the Underworld creatures wouldn’t do anything to please Charlie (they’d do the opposite). The allusion can be found in the sense that after childbirth, Rachel died and Charlie’s desire of her to come back wouldn’t be pleased (and later on, the Underworld creatures would make it harder for Charlie), and in ‘Our Town’, Emily Gibbs wants to go back to life after dying in childbirth but now that she joined the ‘underworld’ she can’t.
“He sent Jane home, fed and bathed Sophie, and read her to sleep with a few pages from Slaughterhouse-Five, then went to bed early and slept fitfully” (Moore 45)
Another allusion found in this book is one to ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, a well-known book written by Kurt Vonnegut. This allusion appears in page 45, when after another day in Charlie Asher’s life after his wife passed away, Asher is putting his daughter to bed. Moore wrote “He sent Jane home, fed and bathed Sophie, and read her to sleep with a few pages from Slaughterhouse-Five, then went to bed early and slept fitfully” (Moore 45). From a first look, it is strange that Charlie read such a book to his baby daughter to sleep. Parents usually read nice and cute stories to their children before they sleep but instead, Charlie read his child a book about a soldier that survived the bombing of Dresden in World War II, saw how all of his ‘friends’ died, and now is a guy that was kidnapped by aliens (Tralfamadorians). This is not the type of book normal people would read to a baby but analyzing Charlie’s personality (and attitude after Rachel died) and the context of the story (death related), it makes more sense. At this point, Asher’s life has no purpose but death is something that surrounds his environment, and reading a book about War (killing death, etc.) to his little daughter sounds justified in this case.
One clear allusion that stands out in this book are the Hell hounds. Hell hounds are known in art and literature as supernatural dogs (mythological creatures) with hellish aspect. It is also known that hell hounds are assigned to guard the entrances of the world of the dead (mostly common, graveyards) or guarding a supernatural treasure. They’re also considered as the protectors of supernatural beings in the world and this is a clear relation with the book. The hell hounds appear on page 148-49, the night of the attack form the Underworld creature (Macha) towards Sophie. Macha was going to kill Sophie but the Hell hounds protected her and didn’t let that creature (and later on in the book, nothing that was going to harm her) to touch her. This allusion is very important because just as historically the hell hounds are protectors of supernatural beings,
in ‘A Dirty Job’ they are the protectors of Sophie, who according to the Underworld creatures, she possesses a very strong power and ability that if she gets to develop and train well, it would be bad for all of them. Also, as Sophie is a Death Merchant’s daughter, this can mean that she’s going to have those duties too. The Death Merchants in this book can be considered as the entrance to the world of the dead (as they retrieve the souls of people before they die) and the fact that the Hell hounds are protecting Sophie all the time, this can also be an allusion to them being the guards of the entrances to the after life.
In conclusion, it’s clear that Christopher Moore included a lot of allusions in ‘A Dirty Job’ but he did it with a purpose. By using this references to external figures or events, the author creates a deeper meaning of the different episodes or events of the story. These allusions give insight to the reader to understand in a more meaningful way what the author is trying to explain in particular parts of the book. The use of allusions in literature is very important because by adding these references, a story can become more interesting and it would also help the reader to open his mind and pay more attention to the text and the details to try to make more sense about the story itself.
Allusions in Soccer
Allusions can be found anywhere. In any activity we do, or a book we read, or something we say, we can find references to historical figures or events that we use to describe someone or something and out stand one specific characteristic of it. In sports, there are several situations where the fans, the media, or the players show clear examples of allusions that we can spot easily if we pay attention to them. In soccer there are a lot of references to important people and events that, even though some don’t have a specific relationship with the sport, they still help to describe a player or a game in a more detailed way or to refer to them as something more important than what we think they are. Even though some people don’t realize it, allusions can be useful in a sport like soccer and they are not hard to be found.
This “best player” of the team would be known by some teammates or by the people who watch the team’s games as the “Messi of the team”.
One of the most common allusions that can be found in soccer is when, in every team, there is always a player that stands out more than the rest. This “best player” of the team would be known by some teammates or by the people who watch the team’s games as the “Messi of the team”. This is a very common allusion in this sport because as soon as a player stands out from the rest, people tend to give this player the name of the best soccer player of the world (currently), Lionel Messi. For example, during a high school soccer game, there is usually a player that dribbles, passes, and shoots better than any of the other players that are playing, and it is common to hear in the crowds that watch the game something like “look, there goes the new Messi”, which in other words could mean “look, there goes the best of all”. There can be a few changes in that “best player” people always refer to (it’s not always Messi) but they also use other famous great player’s names (Ronaldo, Pele, or Maradona), but Messi is the most common one to use.
There are other really common allusions in soccer and these are the nicknames given to some players. Even though it is mostly in Latin American soccer, in many professional soccer leagues all around the world people give historical names to some soccer players because of the way they play and because of their personalities. For example, when there’s a player that is really good at playing because he can do amazing tricks and show great skills, he can be called “The Magician” and in sometimes they even use famous magicians names to give them to soccer players (some people call these “soccer magicians” as the David Copperfields of soccer). Another common allusion in players’ nicknames found in soccer is when a really skillful player appears, and this player can do such dribbles so that when he plays he seems like he’s dancing, it would be common to hear people or the media to call that player “The Michael Jackson of soccer”. These are just two examples but depending on the player’s personality and skills, he can be given this type of nicknames as an allusion to those historical figures.
There is one particular allusion in soccer and it appears when the best games of the year are going to happen. For example, Real Madrid – Barcelona (the current two best teams), which is known as the greatest soccer game in the world, creates a lot of expectation between the fans from both teams and even from other teams. This game is so
great that people start to give names to this event and making allusions to refer to it. One of the most common ones would be “The World War”. Real Madrid against Barcelona would sometimes be called the “World War of soccer”. The passion and anticipation that this game creates every year makes people to refer to this game as a World War because the best players of the world are going to face each other in a 90 minute battle to determine who’s the best team of the world. In the game, it can also be consider a war because players put their maximum effort to win and sometimes there are even fights between players and coaches, all because of the historic rivalry between both teams. This allusion is very common to see in this type of games, where it adds motivation to the players’ minds to make them understand that wars should be fought and won.
In conclusion, it would be fair to say that just as in soccer, allusions can be found in any other sport. Some might not see a point on using this names in a sport that reference things that have nothing to do with it, but it just adds a stronger tone to it so it can be more interesting. Allusions in the players’ nicknames can help them be recognized by their most outstanding characteristic (either physical or practical) and allusions for important games can help the players be motivated to ‘win the war’. Also, if a young player is called “the new Messi”, this can motivate him to improve his skills and work on them to become the best player of the world. Allusions are everywhere, and soccer is not an exception.