The novel, Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney narrates the life of a young man who is struggling to keep his job by day, while visiting many bars and nightclubs during the night and doing cocaine, to which he is extremely addicted. Throughout the novel, McInerney makes use of the Coma Baby as a symbolic representation of the narrator himself. The Coma Baby has been living in its mother’s womb after the mother suffered a car accident and entered a coma. Through the words between the narrator and the Coma Baby, the protagonist wants to avoid facing the harsh realities of life and continue living isolated in his own narcotic-induced world. It isn’t until Coma Baby leaves the womb alive when the narrator is finally “alive” as well.
The Coma Baby is shown to be a symbolic representation of the narrator through his actions and attitude towards life, which is careless and indifferent. In this passage the main character is experiencing a dream where he is interacting with Coma Baby. As the narrator approaches the Baby, he immediately opens his eyes, almost as if he knew the protagonist was in his presence. The narrator proceeds to ask the Baby if he’s ever going to come out. The Baby responds with, “No way Jose. I like it in here. Everything I need is pumped in.” (54) The Baby acts very stubbornly as well as seen here:
“But Mom’s on her way out.” “If the old lady goes, I’m going with her.” The Coma Baby sticks his purple thumb in his mouth. You try to reason with him, but he does a deaf-and-dumb routine. “Come out”, you say…”They’ll never take my alive”, the Baby says. (55)
The Baby gets what he wants at his very own convenience, and therefore has no motivation to even want to leave the mother’s stomach. The Baby’s actions parallel with the protagonist for he is provided with cocaine and refuses to do anything to make his situation better. The drugs have completely taken his determination to do anything in life. For example, the cocaine has taken away his motivation to go to work on time. The drugs have also been his escape from his wife, Amanda. Then after the narrator tries to reason with the Coma Baby he responds with a “deaf-and-dumb routine,” which corresponds to how the narrator responds to those who have tried to help him. For example, the main character constantly ignores Clara, his boss, in her attempts to bring him to work on time.
The mood slightly changes right before the narrator wakes up from his dream talking to the Coma Baby. “Then there is a knock on the door, and you hear Clara Tillinghast’s voice: “Open up. It’s the doctor.”’(55) The juxtaposition of Clara’s name next to “doctor” serves the purpose of Clara being the one to “save” the narrator just as the doctor being the one to “save” the Coma Baby. This specific sentence also serves as foreshadowing the narrator’s upcoming moments.
The last time Coma Baby comes up is in the middle of the novel with the chapter title, “Coma Baby Lives!” The chapter itself serves a purpose...