"Vanity" by Eugene Tai

Eugene is one of my best students in the English class. Beneath his reticence, he has a keen intellect and is an expressive writer. Eugene has scored A1 in English (O Levels 2012). Below, I share with you Eugene’s writing on the theme, “Vanity”. What are some of the stylistic devices he has used that makes this an enjoyable read?

 

Vanity

The plump boy’s eyes were gleaming with awe. The room was dark, and only dimly-illuminated by the pale light of his computer screen. He squealed as he clicked on the “replay” button of the Korean pop music video for the fourth time. Kim Chee. Jeong Hwan. D-Dragon. G.O.D. He desired to have their perfect physique, their elfin-like facial features, fashionable hairstyles. Most importantly, he longed for fame and recognition, as well as the adulation of fans worldwide: hordes of fan-girls awaiting his arrival at airports, carrying posters and banners in support him; paparazzi snapping up photographs of him as he emerges from a limousine and makes his way to an award ceremony. He craved every scrap and tittle of the attention given to the celebrities. Gleefully, he leapt out of his chair and began dancing to the beat of the music, barely able to keep up or even maintain his balance. The teenaged boy approached the mirror. Where anyone would have seen an overweight, frog-faced, slit-eyed and pimply adolescent, he saw himself as the incarnation of a Greek God – a toned, sculptured physique and finely chiselled facial features.

The boy had it all planned. While living the life of a regular student, he would also take up classes in the Korean language, dancing and music. He would go on to serve National Service, and upon its completion, apply to a talent agency so that they would groom him to become famous and loved by the world.

Convinced he was destined for stardom, he fretted at his classmates’ oblivion to his x-factor, and tried desperately to draw attention to himself. He revelled at every opportunity to display his star quality. After all, he was Korean pop personified! He was certain it would not be long before his popularity in school skyrocketed, when they finally awakened to his immense talent. For too long he had hoped for the day when the girls would giggle and swoon at him as he walked past. For too long he had hoped for his classmates to tease him about a girl (or girls) who liked him. He was determined to make all that become a reality.

In recent days, he had heard things: that the class despised him, they said he would never achieve his dreams, that he was crazy. His blood began to boil as he recalled their words. Fools, all of them! Just plain jealous, he thought. Just plain jealous of my popularity, my talent for music and dance, and my knowledge of Korea and its language. Bunch of villains! Trying to pull down the protagonist, the hero of this story! When they feel my greatness they will love me, they will fear me! The boy continued gazing at his reflection in the mirror. He turned on the light and admired his face. He frowned. The hair was not good enough. He grabbed the nearest bottle of gel and rubbed a dollop of it into his hair, gingerly moulding the grass-like clump of hair into a Mohawk by his own definition. There, it was all perfect now.

He returned to the computer and checked his FaceBook page. There was a “friend request” by a person whom he did not know. The person’s name was in Hangul characters, and had a picture of Jess from “LARA” as her profile picture. He accepted it immediately. Soon after, the stranger opened up a chat window with him.

“Hello!”

“Who are you?”

“Heather! I saw your posts on many of the K-Pop fan websites I visited and decided to add you.”

“Ok… So how old are you?”

“14.”

“Same here.”

“What school are you in, handsome?”

“Korean International, hahaha!”

“How do you look? I can’t seem to find any photos of you on your profile…”

“I’m about 172 cm tall and am one of the most attractive guys in my class.”

The boy was elated. Finally someone to pour out all his thoughts and dreams to, and a girl at that! This girl must really love him, to go through the trouble of searching for him and adding him as a contact. He continued rambling on about his intelligence, his fantasies of relationships with girls as well as his training regiment which helped him define his “muscular physique. Abruptly, he stopped. Something was wrong. He began to suspect…

Meanwhile, across the cyber world, John chuckled as he pressed several buttons on his keyboard, taking a screen shot of the interesting online conversation that had just been laid out before him.

“We have him now,” smirked Nicholas.

“You did a good job of impersonating the typical Korean-Pop crazy fan-girl,” sniggered Timothy.

“When we show this to everyone tomorrow, he will be crushed. Humiliated. I don’t think his thick hide can withstand the embarrassment this time round.”  John winked at his friends as he logged out of the account he had created for the sole purpose of exposing a classmate’s self-delusion and vanity.

They burst out into hysterical laughter, in gleeful anticipation of the coup de grace that would devastate the web of self-deceit that the narcissistic, delusional boy had spun around himself.

My comments: Overall, a good attempt at crafting a credible persona that conforms to the theme of this essay. I’ve amended your original paragraph 3 slightly so that the boy’s vanity shows up more. Otherwise, it can be argued that there’s really nothing ‘vain’ about idol-worship and love of pop culture, which most teens would do. Be careful also that in the conclusion to this story, you don’t draw attention away from the main theme of vanity to the prank by the friends – something that could detract from your main storyline and instead cause readers to feel sorry for the main persona.

 

2 thoughts on “"Vanity" by Eugene Tai

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