Jeremiah

First Impressions
From the first time we meet Jeremiah in Act One Scene Three, we form an impression of a very timid character, seriously lacking in confidence. Despite having reservations about the New Burial Policy (‘I mean it’s just fifteen years’), he allows his concerns to be dismissed by the Director (a very strong and forceful character) and he gets a concession to ‘see what the situation on the ground is’. He lets the Director refer to him as ‘Jerry’, a complete lack of respect for him, and only stands up for himself at the end of the play (when he has grown as a character), by finally correcting the Director’s mistake.


Quality
Evidence
Explanation
Timid
‘Um, excuse me. Mr…Um’
He uses a lot of hedges like ‘um’ in his speech, showing that he is not a strong character when he is uncomfortable. However, when he is with his colleague, he shows much greater fluency.
Uncertain
‘But…..’ (p.17)
In Act One, Scene 6 Jeremiah goes to visit the corpse, and shows huge uncertainty in what he is saying, by hedging, re-starting and interjecting his speech with exclamations, ‘Oh shit.’
Self critical
‘Oh God, I am such an idiot’ (p.21)
Jeremiah gets very frustrated with his shortcomings and seems to have no patience with himself.
Idealistic
‘We are civil servants. We serve the people
He seems to want to be a good civil servant, but as he says, he is just ‘serving out his bond’. His concern with the corpse shows that he is closer to the idealistic vision of a civil servant, as suggested by the civil service rhetoric.
Concerned about others
‘Shouldn’t they have the right to rest in peace for just a bit longer than fifteen years?’ (p.15)
Jeremiah can see the ‘human side’ of the decision to re-bury people and seems to have issues with it. However, he doesn’t present his view very strongly, so the Director largely ignores it.
Unintentionally comic
‘So if you don’t mind Mr Chan. I’ll be back again in about a month’s time’ (p.22)
He speaks to the corpse as if it is a real person, which is extremely comic, as it is totally out of the natural order of things.
Spiritual
‘I….Um…..Can talk to corpses’ (p.36)
The purpose of this quality seems to be to show Jeremiah’s sensitivity and perhaps his unusual nature.

What is Jeremiah’s role in Boom?

He seems to be more than simply another civil servant. His attitude towards his job changes throughout the play, from one where he seems to know what he should be doing (‘We’re civil servants. We represent the people’) to one where he is fighting for a corpse. Although this element of the play should be highly unbelievable, we develop real sympathy for the corpse and his concerns and feel kindly towards Jeremiah, who is trying to make things better for him.

He is also quite philosophical. In his monologue in Act One, Scene 9 he speaks in very abstract terms (‘Corpses are not the same as ghosts. Ghosts haunt. Corpses rot’), which we also see in Act Two, Scene 20. Although we get a sense of his personal story as well, he seems to be a mouthpiece (perhaps for Tay?) for the more abstract concepts that are happening and the themes of the play.

The origins of ‘Jeremiah’

Jeremiah, meaning "Yahweh exalts", was one of the main prophets of the Hebrew Bible. His writings are put together in the Book of Jeremiah.


Jeremiah came from a landowning family. It is mentioned that he's had a joyful early life, however, the difficulties in Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations has prompted scholars to refer to him as “the weeping prophet.”


The Lord called Jeremiah to prophetic ministry in c. 626 BC, about one year after Josiah king of Judah had turned the nation toward repentance from the widespread idolatrous practices of his father and grandfather. Jeremiah was appointed to reveal the sins of the people and the coming consequences.


The prophet Jeremiah inspired the French noun jérémiade, and subsequently the English jeremiad, meaning "a lamentation; mournful complaint," or further, "a cautionary or angry harangue."


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremiah

Tay may not have meant to make reference to this Jeremiah, but there do seem to be some interest similarities. The Jeremiah of the Bible is considered a prophet, which is not unlike the role that Boom’s Jeremiah plays. Also, the origins of the name, meaning ‘a lamentation; mournful complaint’ and ‘a cautionary or angry harangue’ describes both sides of Jeremiah – the reflective and pitiful character we see at the start, who seems weak and poorly suited to his job, then the stronger character who finally stands up for himself at the end of the play in a surprisingly forceful way.


GOAL-ACTION-OBSTACLE

Jeremiah’s goals
- to serve the people & be a good civil servant
- to ‘serve out his bond’ – he has quite split goals

Jeremiah’s actions
- Consults the people ‘on’ or ‘in’ the ground – visits the cemetery
- He reaches out to Mother when he realizes who the corpse is

Jeremiah’s obstacles
- The corpse’s reluctance to move
- Bureaucracy/paperwork of Civil Service
- The Director
- The rudeness of people he tries to help e.g. Mother.