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"Waldo is Nowhere" - UChicago Supplement Essay


sqrcke 1 / -  
Oct 28, 2012   #1
I've struggled the most with this essay out of any I've written. I think the introduction is still very rough and I'm concerned that it's a bit short at 430 words, but I'd like some feedback on it.

Prompt:

So where is Waldo, really?



Truly the most tragic figure in modern popular culture, Waldo encapsulates the existential craving that plagues us all: Our desire to be found. But Waldo is also trapped in an ironic quagmire of Twilight Zone proportions: Everyone wants to find out where Waldo is, but no one wants to find out who Waldo is. The former is all well and good for us, but without the latter, without that second meaning of being found, Waldo will always be lost.

Where is Waldo? Waldo is everywhere. He's at the beach, on the streets of Paris, at the football game, and in the parade. Waldo travels across the globe, hoping his nomadic wanderings will one day allow him to find himself, to discover who he really is. But whether in Britain, Mexico, or Germany, the question is still, "Where's Waldo? DĂłnde estĂĄ Waldo? Wo ist Waldo?" No one ever considers those equally alliterative interrogatives: "Who's Waldo? Why Waldo?" And so, once we've spotted him, we continue on satisfied, never pondering further on the man behind the black spectacles.

Waldo's identity crisis drives his every action. Why wear that garish sweater if not to scream, "Notice me, find me! I am Waldo, and I am here!" For without it, what's to distinguish Waldo from the endless crowd of nameless pedestrians that surround him? The poor guy can't even decide on a name: He's Waldo in America, Wally in Italy, Willy in Norway, and, inexplicably, Charlie in France. Perhaps he thought, "Yes, the 'W' was what was holding me back. This time, it will be different," but once again his efforts were futile. So he packs his bags full of striped apparel and heads off to find his next crowd.

Where is Waldo? Waldo is nowhere. For how can one who is unfound even be certain to exist? Waldo is trapped in a SchrĂśdinger experiment, oscillating somewhere between life and death until he is finally observed, collapsing his red and white wave function into a sweater and bobble hat. Yet even once we see Waldo, we do not truly know Waldo, and so he remains doomed to disappear into the crowd once again at the next flip of the page. Perhaps Waldo is a reminder for us to look past the superficial appearances of those we meet and focus instead on character and personality. Perhaps he is a warning that we mustn't depend on others to decide our identities, that we must forge our own path and create our own purpose in life. Either way, the message is clear: Don't end up like Waldo.

aarkebauer 5 / 14  
Oct 28, 2012   #2
This is a very interesting look at the topic. I had actually heard about this dreaded question, and I must say, I'm impressed with where you took it. One little thing, you might take the comma out after Mexico.

You might also consider changing the wording of the "Where is Waldo?" at the beginning of your last paragraph, since you answer it exactly opposite from the last time you asked. I think it might sound good to say "So, where is Waldo, really?" or even, "So, what is Waldo, really?" considering how you end your essay.

Also, before the sentence starting, "Perhaps Waldo is a reminder..." you might want to add a sentence, phrase, etc. to transition into what Waldo is, as seems to be the subject of your last few sentences. For me at least, that would make the ending seem a bit less abrupt.


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