Chango is a story about a man named Bony, who found a dead monkey’s head and begins to take the monkey head around him. Although this is perceived to be strange, the true meaning of the story comes out when you examine the relationship between Bony, the dead monkey, and his late friend Mando. Viewing the similarities between the dead monkey in the story with the memory of Mando, it is evident that Bony was suffering from grief and had not yet truly confronted his feelings towards the loss. The monkey was far more than just a strange obsession, rather it is an object in which Bony could project what he lost into the monkey and turn the monkey into a companion. In this essay, it will be shown that through looking at the symptoms of grief displayed in the story, Bony had more than just a dead monkey by his side.
A symptom of grief is alcoholism. Many people who suffer from a devastating loss turn to alcohol to numb the pain. Statements such as, “He tried to relax in bed and enjoy what was left of his beer buzz.” (Casares 62), “There were only three cans left in his twelve-pack. In an hour, the beer would be gone.” (Casares 49), and “… People paid him what they could- twenty or thirty dollars was the usual- but if he knew them, he might let them slide with a case of Corona or Negra Modelo.” (Casares 47). The constant theme of Bony and his drinking is evident of an issue regarding grief. As explained by the Addiction Center, “When someone close to us dies or we lose an important relationship, there is a possibility that we’ll try to replace that person or relationship. It might be too painful to try and learn to live without them and drugs and alcohol can easily become our replacement.” (Addiction Center). The replacement for the loss of Mando, along with the monkey, is alcohol. Addiction and the loss of a friend shows that Bony is dealing heavily with grief, in which he has turned to alcohol to subside.
Evidence from the text also suggests that Bony had a form of “survivor’s guilt” because of the loss of Bony. In the text it states, “At first, Bony couldn’t believe that [Mando] was dead. It messed him up. He didn’t know how to make sense of his friend dying. Bony hadn’t been doing much other than hanging out and partying. So why did God take Mando and not him?” (Casares 54). A grief source shows, “Whether a person experiences survivor guilt, its duration and its intensity all vary from person to person. But the underlying feelings are similar: feeling guilty that you survived when someone else died and that you do not deserve to live when another person did not” (What’s Your Grief). Bony’s feelings that it should have been himself dead, rather than Mando, is an indicator that Bony was experiencing a feeling of survivor’s guilt. Survivor’s guilt is a feeling associated with grief; this makes it so that Bony was likely dealing with feelings of unresolved grief over the loss of his friend Mando, who he perceived to have a greater worthiness of life.
“4 Ways Grief Can Lead to Addiction.” Addiction Center, 29 May 2019, www.addictioncenter.com/community/4-ways-grief-can-lead-addiction/.
“Understanding Survivor Guilt.” What’s Your Grief, 27 Nov. 2018, whatsyourgrief.com/understanding-survivor-guilt/.
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