Response to "13, 1977, 21" by Jonathan Lethem

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Alyssa M. Gonzalez “13, 1977, 21” In Jonathan Lethem’s personal narrative essay, “13, 1977, 21”, Lethem reflects on when he was 13 years old, in the year 1977, where he watched the film Star Wars 21 times. But the essay is not actually about the Star Wars film. It is about the way Lethem used going to the movies to remove himself, or “hide” from the realities of his life, such as his mother’s illness and awkward pre-teenage years. The first few sentences of Lethem’s essay is where he blatantly tells the readers that he’s watched Star Wars twenty-one times in four months. He then uses the next three paragraphs to reflect on the circumstances surrounding his trips to the movie theater in the summer of 1977 and trying to…show more content…
The tone could be described as witty, but also nostalgic. Along with reflecting on his trips to the movie theater, Lethem reflects on his awkward pre-teen years, where it was speculated by his parents that he was gay, and he followed a girl to her ballet class. I’m totally unsure, but I believe Lethem numbered each paragraph to go along with the significance of numbers in his essay. The title itself, “13, 1977, 21”, begins to make sense once he introduces the events of 1977, where he watched a film 21 times, at the age of 13. These three numbers are very significant to him because he thinks of the twenty-one times he watched the movie as him maturing, almost like a Bar Mitzvah, at thirteen years old. Lethem also believed watching the movie twenty times would be too “mechanically round”, and that adding the one more time would be more realistic. He also ends the essay at paragraph twenty-one - the amount of times he went to see Star Wars. Lethem’s twenty-one trips to the movie theater to see Star Wars was not entirely his fascination with or liking of the movie. He used the Astor Plaza as a “hiding place” from the gradual loss of his mother to natural illness, and already absent father. Watching the film so many times in the summer of 1977 helped Lethem cope with his pre-teenage struggles, and he describes it as when he “invented himself in the vacuum collision of

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