The Graduate Review


A capitalist fable, “Felix and the Flying Tiger” was one of two “Best Essays” at the 2023 Master’s in English Regional Conference held at Bridgewater State University. After considering the themes and messages of Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Circular Ruins” and “The Library of Babel,” Ferdinand de Saussure’s Lecture on General Linguistics, and Louis Althusser’s “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” I sought in short story form to answer the question: How do humans make meaning under capitalism? My main thesis in “Felix and the Flying Tiger” is that despite their current ability to transcend language, the sign system of brand logos that we adorn ourselves with, that we cloak our children with, that we invest in, and that we identify and communicate with, is ultimately meaningless and non-transferrable to future generations. When the reader recognizes the globally iconic Starbucks, Apple, McDonald’s, and Puma logos, they have unlocked a secret meaning that the narrator in this story never will. But does this really matter? Here, my “Library of Babel” is the ruins of a once- vast shopping mall where citizens, archaeologists, and academics of a future generation attempt to decipher late capitalist iconography.

Note on the Author

Maryellen Groot is a writer and educator currently pursuing an M.A. in English (Writing) and a certificate in Writing & Rhetoric at Salem State University. She holds a joint B.A. in Written Arts and American Studies from Bard College. Maryellen studies creative writing, creative writing pedagogy, literary theory, and American literature. Her fiction focuses on themes of capitalist alienation Bridgewater State University The Graduate Review • 2023 • 115 and the use and abuse of American mythos. Recently, she presented a short story entitled “Felix and the Flying Tiger” at the 2023 Master’s in English Regional Conference held at Bridgewater State University, which was one of two “Best Essay” winners. She further developed this piece with the mentorship of Dr. Halina Adams. Her non-fiction work has previously been published with Vox. She is currently a writing tutor at the Mary G. Walsh Writing Center and lives in North Andover with her husband, Bobby.