Often people undergo consistent transformations both physical and emotional in the course of their life. At the same time, people may face serious challenges in their life, when they suffer from a serious physical injury or psychological trauma, while in some cases people can suffer from both physical and psychological traumas. In this respect, it is possible to refer to short stories “Mirrors”¯ by Lucy Grealy and “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self”¯ by Alice Walker, which main characters undergo through similar problems but actually find different solutions of their problems. In such a way, both authors revealed their vision of the development of the main characters and solution of their psychological problems, which proved to be more significant than physical ones.
On analyzing both short stories, “Mirror”¯ and “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self”¯, it is possible to trace many similarities between the main characters, which though determined by one and the same cause ”“ the physical injury which has changed their life dramatically since their childhood. In fact, the main characters cannot live a normal life after they get injured. The cannot communicate with their peers as other do and gradually they slip to isolation and become outcasts in their peer groups, while, later, as they grow older, they cannot find their own place in life and they still face serious problems with their socialization.
For instance, the main character of Walker’s story becomes the “girl who does not raise her head”¯ (Walker, 49) and it seem as if she cannot raise her head even when she has already grown up. The same may be said about the main character of Grealy story, who also suffer from serious psychological problems and she constantly feels as if she is a stranger in this world. In such a way, both characters look for their own place and even construct their own world.
However, they apparently cannot live in a complete isolation from other people. Moreover, isolation does not solve their problem since beauty is crucial concept for them. In fact, beauty determines their self-perception and their life philosophy. In such a situation, as they cannot be beautiful, the main characters feel their inferiority. At the same time, Walker’s main character eventually understands that beauty does not only have its external, physical manifestations, but there is also internal beauty, which may be unseen to people but which is as significant as physical beauty. She understands it, when her physical problem is eliminated. In fact, it is only after changing her self-perception, her psychology, the main character proves to be able to become a happier person than she used to be before.
In contrast, the main character of Wearly’s story undergoes a different transformation. Instead of searching for alternatives to physical beauty, namely inner, spiritual beauty, the main character of “Mirrors”¯ stubbornly looks for physical pleasures in which she hopes to find her salvation or, at least, she attempts to ease her pain, both physical and psychological, in such a way. She attempts to increase her self-confidence through casual relationships, but all her efforts seem to be doomed to failure and the way Walker’s character chooses seems to be more correct and effective.
Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that personal transformations apparently play a very important role. A physical injury can cause serious psychological problems in an individual, but these problems cannot be solved through self-degradation, instead, they can be solved through self-understanding and appreciation of the inner beauty.