Snow Falling on Palm Trees
I want to make very clear that this is not my invention, nor entirely my writing. My AP English Lit class wrote this at the end of the year. It helps to have read the works we did in our English class, but even so there will be things you won't understand. Don't worry about it. :) Just think of it, somewhere in this world there are nine people to whom all of this makes perfect sense and all of whom find it highly entertaining!
Here's a little contest: Let's see who, in the reviews, can recognize and/or explain the most jokes/allusions! (This is not open to members of my AP class, nor our teacher, but next year's class can try!) One point for every allusion you name, two for every one you can explain!
For a hint: (Pay attention! There are some freebies here!) List of pieces parodied: Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, The Stranger by Albert Camus, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Flea" and other poetry by John Donne, "Eve of St. Agnes" by John Keats, "Paradise Lost" and other poetry by John Milton, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Beowulf, The Sandbox by Edward Albee
Other influences: Blueberry muffins; A misunderstanding about woodchucks, incited by a Robert Frost poem; An impression of Hamlet's death by Ray; A very bad mental image brought on by an allusion to deer hunting in Macbeth; A bad AP essay's misspelling of "Razumihin"; Funny names; MacDougal, the duct-tape Scotsman; Posters of Orlando Bloom and Michael Flatley ...And more! What do you notice?
It was the fall of the year, and all the birds, including the woodchucks, were flying south. Hamlet and Tess sat on a little tropical island, comparing their tragic lives.
" . . . You think THAT's bad," Tess moaned, "I killed the family horse."
"Well, I killed just about half the aristocracy in Denmark," Hamlet retorted.
Tess sputtered. "I laid myself down on a sacrificial alter to prove my love!"
The pig's head interjected, "At least your head's not on a stake."
Just then, Edna washed up on the shore. "Wow, that was quite a swim," she said. "Let's see Léonce watch me HERE!"
The sound of a conch horn broke the air. "What was that?" Tess asked.
"It came from over there," Hamlet said. "Let's see what it was! It sounded like a symbol of authority!"
They and Edna started up the beach toward a grove of palm trees. In the shade stood a man in a kilt, holding a conch shell and a bloodied sword. He was rambling something about "Yesterday and Yesterday and Yesterday creeps in this petty pace... Wait..."
"Who are you?" Edna asked.
"Who is anyone?" Guildenstern interjected. Everyone ignored him.
"I'm Macbeth. Welcome to MY island." He put his hand on his chest and bowed slightly. "And this is my conch. I killed some kid named Ralph to get it."
"I know how I got here," Edna said, "But how did all of YOU get here?"
Hamlet stepped up and motioned to another man. "Horatio, tell our story." Horatio took a deep breath, and began.
"A few days ago, we set off from the Congo on a steamship, captained by Mr. Marlow. Along the way, we saw a Holy Albatross. Raskolnikov—" here he glared at a chagrined-looking Russian, "the idiot, caught up in his "extraordinary man theory", after 100 pages of deliberation, took up his axe and threw it at the albatross, thinking that the world would be a better place without it. The water was suddenly not warm and sensuous anymore, and a huge storm blew up. The steamer was pushed way off course, and we were marooned on this island."
"Well, I'm a hunter, because I can sing a high C sharp," Jack said. Everyone just looked at him. Macbeth ran him through with his sword.
"We don't need pigs," Macbeth said callously, "we have plenty of Macduff Bologna."
"Love thy brother, Macbeth," Msimangu said, shaking his finger at him. "Only through love and forgiveness will we unite and survive," he said. Macbeth ran him through too.
"Wait, before we kill anyone else," Rosencrantz said, "why are we here?"
Piggy stood up and huffed, "Didn't you hear the conch? You have to come when he blows the conch!"
"Statement. One, love," Rosencrantz said.
"I have called this assembly because Ophelia says she's seen the Beastie." "Well, Ophelia also says, 'Customable lattice new is plagiarism,' and 'Geiko just saved me 15% on my car insurance,' so why should we believe her?" Mersault scoffed.
"I saw it too," said Ishmael. "I'm writing an article about it."
"What does it look like?" Jane asked.
"Well, it's better-looking than YOU," John Donne said, in a strange attempt to seduce her.
Piggy snatched the conch from Macbeth and danced out of the way of his sword. "I have the conch! And I think we need to find out what the Beastie looks like."
"It was horrible," Ishmael said. "It had sharp teeth and big toes and feathers, and it moaned."
"Yes!" people began to clamor. "We've heard it at night!" So they decided to organize search parties and try to find the Beastie.
Edna, Raskolnikov and his little dwarf Razhumpkin searched in the glade. But it was not long before Edna and Raskolnikov sat down and began thinking. Razhumpkin occupied himself by spinning vines into gold. After ten minutes of this, Edna turned to Raskolnikov, and said, "Don't even THINK about killing me."
"Wait, where's Razhumpkin?" Raskolnikov asked. Just then, there was a terrible electric twang and a wretched scream cut through the air.
Edna cried, "I'm not sacrificing myself for him! Let's get out of here!"
"The world was better without him, anyway," Raskolnikov answered, following her.
Meanwhile, Hamlet, Tess and Mersault searched the scar.
"I don't think we should do anything until we're absolutely sure there IS a beastie," Hamlet said. "Let's set up a play and see if anyone looks guilty."
Tess, wallowing in her own misery, sighed, "It's all my fault the ship crashed."
"...Yet conscience does make cowards of us all. If I wait, more people may die!"
"...I should've been pretty! I should've been pure! I wonder if Brazil is anywhere around here?"
"Do I even care if I kill the beastie? It should kill me! We end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to..."
"If only I hadn't killed the horse, then I wouldn't have gone to work for Alec, then he wouldn't have raped me (of course that was all my fault), then I wouldn't have alienated Angel, then I wouldn't have gone to the Evil Dairy, then I wouldn't have gotten on the ship and crashed it, and then I wouldn't have slowed down my search party..."
Mersault stood there, almost blinded by the sun, and deafened by the constant soliloquies of Hamlet and Tess. His head pounded. He pulled out his revolver and shot them both, paused, then shot them both four more times with a sound of horrible finality. In the pause that followed, Mersault said, "Wow, that's the first time I've been glad of anything for a long time."
Macbeth, Gruoch and Etta Heine, the third and final search party, headed for the mountain.
"I'm not so sure about this," Macbeth said, eying the mountain. "I'm not fond of heights."
"You're such a wimp," Gruoch groaned, rolling her eyes.
Just then, the sound of woodchucks migrating south filled the air. With terrible shrieks, they fell upon the sharks and ate them up. Then, squawking, they flew on.
"WHAT was THAT?" Etta asked.
"Chaos reigns," Gruoch said. "The natural order is out of joint." She glanced down at her dress. "Stupid woodchucks! Look what they did to my gown! Out, out, damn spot!"
"You wife is crazy," Etta said. "You should've married a good German girl."
An eerie sound of moaning rose from the forest. Etta and Gruoch screamed. "It's the beastie!"
"Don't worry about it," Macbeth said. "It's all good. Some witches told me that I cannot be killed by any thing that sees me in combat. Also, I cannot die until snow falls on the palm trees by Castle Rock."
"Well, they didn't say anything about US!" said Etta. "I'm leaving!" She left, muttering, "Stupid Scots."
Gruoch followed, grumbling something about, "We never communicate anymore. I should've married MacDougal."
Macbeth watched them go. As soon as they disappeared into the trees, he heard them both scream, and an eerie "MBW AAAAANNNNN" reverberated across the island. Macbeth shrugged.
"Well, she should've died hereafter."
The rest of the castaways were holed up in Castle Rock. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were keeping guard, munching on blueberry muffins and flipping coins.
Piggy watched them, shaking his head for a few minutes, then finally walked over, huffing and puffing. Wiping off his specs on his shirt, he said slowly, "Guys. It's a two-headed coin."
Rosencrantz looked at the coin, then flipped it over and looked at the other side. He glared up at Piggy. "You can't talk to us. You don't have the conch."
Edna, Raskolnikov, Mersault and Macbeth emerged from the trees and pelted toward the rock. "Run!" Edna shouted. "The beastie's coming!"
"But what about my ass-mar?" Piggy shrieked.
In unison, they shouted, "Sucks to your ass-mar!"
"Too late! Mersault said, pointing into the trees. "There it is!"
A loud twang was heard again, and the trees shook as the beastie emerged from the forest. He was an old man in 17th century garb, stumbling about with a cane, carrying an electric lute and an amp strapped to his back. He opened his mouth to say something...
But what came out was so long and so complex that nobody understood a word of it. They all stood there, stunned.
"Who are you?" Guildenstern asked. "Oh, I mean, Who goes there?"
"Who is anyone?" Rosencrantz answered.
Macbeth looked at them under his brows. "Who wants a sword through his gut?"
"You win," Rosencrantz said to him.
"I'm Milton," the beastie said. "John Milton." The 007 theme song began in the background.
Etta and Gruoch ran from the frightening sound of the electric lute. Something crashed through the underbrush. Etta screamed again, and then Razhumpkin ran into the clearing.
"Oh, it's only you," Gruoch said.
"What do you mean ONL Y me?" Razhumpkin answered defiantly.
"Let's light a fire!" Etta suddenly said.
"I liiiiike fiiiiiire..." Razhumpkin hissed, distracted. "My preccccioussssss..."
"Alright," Gruoch said, brightening. "Let's get some firewood. And Etta, tie up the dwarf."
"Pleased to meet you, Milton," Guildenstern said. "I'm Rosencrantz."
"And I'm Guildenstern," Rosencrantz added. "Oh, hang on..."
Jane Eyre broke it. "What do you mean by scaring us all to death with your electric lute?"
Milton started and looked around. "Who's that?"
"Can't you see?" Guildenstern asked.
"Can't you?" Rosencrantz answered.
"I'm blind," Milton said.
"Statement. One, love."
"See?" Macbeth said triumphantly. "I'm invincible!"
"You're a loony," Kumalo said under his breath.
"Look!" Donne said, pointing at the palm trees. "Someone set a fire! Look at the ash! It looks like snow falling on the palm trees!"
"Oh NOOOOO!!!" Macbeth cried.
"Is that you, Donne?" Milton said. "I haven't seen you for a long time."
"You haven't seen ANYTHING in a long time."
Rosencrantz ran forward and tried to catch the "snow" on his tongue, then screamed when it burned him.
John Donne was in the background, proposing to Jane Eyre. "I don't love you, but marry me anyway!"
"Hey, that's my line!" Mersault interrupted.
"I meant it in the sense that. . ." He went on for awhile, while Mersault ignored him.
"Here, I'LL show you how to write a love poem," Milton cried, still annoyed by Donne's jibe. He pulled out his quill and stumbled forward. "Somebody give me some paper." Just then, he tripped on a rock and fell into Macbeth, stabbing him through the heart. "Oops. Did I do that?"
Unfortunately, Lennie had just noticed Milton's ruff. "Ooh, soft ruffles! Look, George, soft ruffles!" He began to pat Milton's head—actually, it was more of a thump than a pat. Milton tried to run, but Lennie had grabbed hold of his cravat.
George looked away. "Oh expletive deleted, not again."
Milton yelped. "Let go of me!" He began to flail about, trying to free himself. Lennie patted harder. "And I will take care of him and feed him alfalfa. George will let me keep him if I take care of him."
"I can see!" Milton cried suddenly.
Then there was an awful noise, and Lennie looked down in surprise. "I done a bad thing. Now George won't let me feed the rabbits."
Before anyone had any time to react, Jane cried, "Look!"
As everyone stared out into the surf, a man in full, gleaming armor swam up to shore. The waves crashed upon the golden sand, and theme music began to play in the background. Removing his helmet in slow motion, he shook out his hair like a shampoo commercial. As he strode up the beach, everyone could see that he looked exactly like Orlando Bloom. Edna's jaw dropped and her eyes glazed over like a doughnut.
"My name... (dramatic pause)... is Beowulf," he said, pulling a Michael Flatley pose and swinging his arms like wings. "And I am here to save you all. I heard there was a beastie."
"Were you looking for us?" Edna said, pursing her lips and batting her eyelashes.
"No, this is just my morning workout. Everybody ready?"
Picking up every one of them and carrying them all on his back, he dove back into the water in full armor and pulled out his giant's sword. "This swim should only take about fifteen minutes, including whale-killings on the way. Which continent am I dropping people on first?" he said, swimming at an incredible speed.
"Doesn't matter," Kumalo said, "All roads lead to Johannesburg." They swam off into the sunset.
Gruoch, Etta and Razhumpkin ran out onto the beach just in time to see the huge crowd on Beowulf s back disappear over the horizon. "Oh, darn," Razhumpkin said. "NOW what do we do? I've got an idea! Who can guess my name?"
But that is the beginning of a new story-the story of the gradual renewal of a man. The story of his gradual regeneration. Of his passing from one world into another. Of his initiation into a new, unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story. But our present story is ended.