first draft

Sanjida Ridhe

Professor Jay Polish

First draft

May 1st, 2018

Was memory loss the most effect way to cope with trauma?

Memory loss is a tricky and frustrating situation which is caused by multiple factors. There are many specific cases where trauma is the reason behind your memory loss. According to research physical and emotional trauma can directly affect your memory. Sometimes the memory loss may be temporary but there are cases where it can become permanent regarding the type of trauma you went through such as a possible severe brain injury or psychological trauma. Luckily our character Nemasani, mother for “Anon”, her memory was not permanently impacted. Although she did use memory loss and forgetting her son and repeatedly telling herself and others that her son was dead to copy with losing him.

Anonymous is a thrilling and intense play written by Naomi Iizuka that tells the heartbreaking story of the separation between a mother and her son during the midst of horrible war occuring in the background. This play starts of anon telling his story and his journey to finding and reuniting with his mom only to realize that she has forgotten him and is in denial when he is pushing the truth on her which is that he was never dead only lost. The play does go back and forth between Anon’s life and Nemasani’s and her story is everything that happened to her after her dear son was “killed in the storm”. Nemasani is working in a sweatshop, always being bothered by her boss who has no boundaries and each time she is asked about her son, she repeatedly says he’s dead. This play is definitely one for the feels and the harshness of this story becomes obvious when Anon soon does find his mother and it’s heartbreaking where she refuses to believe he is who he says he is. She constantly told herself and others that she no longer had a son. She started to believe the truth. Her true recollection of the facts refused to kick in even after Anon constantly told her what she is saying is true.

What Nemasani has done here is a clear fact of her decision to cope with trauma with Denial. Denial is in fact a psychological defense. It is one of the many reactions to trauma. Denial can involve denying or rejecting the traumatic event happened, refusing or denying that it was traumatic and pretending to feel an emotion of certainness when you aren’t. It is said that “If you’re in denial, you’re trying to protect yourself by refusing to accept the truth about something that’s happening in your life”. (, lines 1-2). According to an article written by Mayo Clinic discussing denial and its effects, some symptoms of denial are (you) “won’t acknowledge a difficult situation, try not to face the facts of a problem, and downplay possible consequences of the issue”. On page 50, during the scene where Nemasani and Anon look at each other for the first time after Anon says in broken lines which in a full sentence would be “What if I told you…what If somehow…But what if- you have a son?” Nemasani is refusing to let him say what she is scared he might say. She replies with lines such as  “No. Don’t say it..please don’t”. And when Anon says “What if?” Nemani replies with “ I don’t believe in “what if”. “What if” will break your heart. After she hears that he says she has a son she immediately says “My son died. He died a long time ago. He was just a little boy and he died”. Anon is begging for her to listen and she apologizes and just simply says that she can’t. This is an example of how Nemasani fits 2 of the symptoms described above. She isn’t trying to acknowledge the truth of a difficult situation that she is speaking to the son that she thought she had lost. She also isn’t trying to face the facts of the problem. She only assumed he was dead. She never really found his body or reported what had happened to him. She was only left with having to cope with her loss and to starting a new life without him.

Nemasani dealt with trauma one way and Anon dealt with it another which was memory loss. Throughout the story, he does seem to be repeating the story of him and his mom multiple times but there are still some hazy facts here and there. He isn’t sure of most things but one thing he is of course sure of is that once he woke up from the wrath of the terrible storm and was taken in by an American family is that he knows this isn’t his real home. He also changes his name multiple times throughout the story going from “Anon, to nobody, to koori..etc”. One of his names was even “Monkey”. That’s cause to smirk! He doesn’t ever give his actual name. There was an important scene during this play that I’d like to focus on. He had trouble getting recollection of his memory but after talking to this girl Naja she helps him remember. On page 24, Naja is repeatedly asking “what do you remember?” When anon says “I don’t know where to begin. I dont know how. I dont know how to begin”. Naja replies with “Begin in the middle, on the border, on the crossing. Begin in the place in between”. Naja is trying to help him gather his thoughts and it works. He soon starts to remember his mother and how she used to hold him as a baby. Nemasani and Anon both had memory loss but in the sense where they pushed the trauma to the back of their mind and as for Anon his perseverance in finding his mother is what was helping him get through this and remember. According to research, “Memory loss is a natural survival skill and defense mechanism humans develop to protect themselves from psychological damage”. ( It is also said that “A person will often suppress memories of a traumatic event until they are ready to handle them, which may never occur”. Nemasani clearly has done this to get through the loss of her son.

1. Is my thesis good?

2. Am i using my research correctly and providing enough in my essay?

3. is the idea relevant enough or should i focus on another question?

4. do you have any recommendations on how i can connect my research to the story?

5. how is my format for the essay, is it all over the place or is topic placement correct

One thought on “first draft”

  1. Sanjida,

    Like we talked about today in class, you’ve done a really brilliant job here at sussing out the different ways that Anon and Nemasani cope with their trauma and with potential loss. I really love how specific you get with quoting the play itself — very helpful and illustrative of your points! — and how you describe the play as being one for the feels. It definitely is!

    As you continue drafting, I’d encourage you to rope in a scholarly article or two; and, while reading and writing about those, I’d encourage you, too, to think about the way different word choices impact your argument. For example, you write that Nemasani decides to cope through denial; is it a choice, or is it more of an unconscious mechanism? A little bit of both? If you think it was a straight-up decision, that’s a really interesting argument — I’d love for you to share your evidence of why you think that, either from your research, the play, or both. If not, I’d encourage you to give some thought to the implications of word choices and how they create arguments for us, even inadvertently.

    I’d also encourage you to linger a little bit longer with the quotes you use: I love that you’re using so many of them, that you’re getting so specific with the play. But, I think it would be even more effective if you slow it down and devote more time to each quote, really teasing out why you’re using it and what exactly you think it illustrates in relation to your research. I think that would make your own voice shine even more through this paper.

    I’m really stoked, as I said in class, about the direction you’ve chosen, and I think you’re doing a great job so far! Keep it up!


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