Sounds Like Titanic
Jessica Chiccehito Hindman
Contributed by Greta Venegas
Part 2

The chapter kicks off in the RV as The Composer and his ensemble sail into the whirling hem of Hurricane Charley. Later that evening, Hindman tries to read On the Road but leaves it by the time she gets to page three because some character in the book is telling another female character to make breakfast, sweep the floor, and called her a whore (Hindman, 2019, p. 81). Hindman cannot get into the book after she realizes the book’s narrator brands him, a male chauvinist, as the coolest; she has no patience for such nonsense. The narrator goes on to talk about The Composer and his eating habits — that is, skipping meals afternoon and working all night composing Christian musicals. Since the rest of the musicians are hungry, they proceed to eat at restaurants confined within their walking distance. She later goes on to email her friends about how the entire country, the United States, is a Ruby, as she becomes agitated with the monotonous landscape of suburban sprawl.

As the chapter proceeds, Hindman introduces us to Ariel, her freshman roommate. The narrator goes on to tell how Ariel had to put up with her — a roommate from Appalachia — who, besides being clueless about everything and wears clothes that border on corporate business attire, had answered an advertisement in the college newspaper on becoming an egg donor. The narrator resorted to egg donation, to help a woman become a mother, due to her desperation to raise tuition money. As a result, she injects herself with hormones.

Hindman also goes on to talk about her high school boyfriend, Fernando, and how he was the first to be accepted into an Ivy League University: Columbia. Fernando would call the narrator and brag about his university experiences, and this motivated Hindman to work hard and also go to New York City. She expounds further on how the hormones she injected had an adverse side effect (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) on her. The egg donation process distracted and made her unwell to the point she failed all her midterms (Hindman, 2019, p. 87). 

The following weekend, she was called up by Becca Belge to work as a violinist. They proceed to the mall, where they meet Cynthia, a professional flutist who confesses she has never played the pennywhistle before — which is evident as she squeaks and screeches (Hindman, 2019, p. 87). Becca reacts quickly by turning up the volume on the CD music, and the mall security guard confronts her. As every song ends, the crowd of customers applauds and look at Cynthia and the narrator in awe. The customers proceed to ask Hindman to sign an autograph on their purchased CDs, but the three — Becca, Cynthia, and the narrator — are kicked out of the mall citing complaints on their noise levels.

The narrator expounds on what The Composer’s fans say about him. One fan tells him how they — he and his wife — met him at Vermont and have been playing his music wearing his CDs thin. He proceeds to say how his music helped them get over the loss of their son. Another fan tells The Composer about how he stumbled on his music at a mall five years earlier and how it helped him through three surgeries to remove cancer. He tells him how he’s in remission and he’s convinced that his music guided his recovery. Another fan wrote a letter to The Composer saying how his music strengthened their faith as their son had left for Iraq and had lost most of his friends to war. He goes on to tell The Composer how his music reminded them they were in God’s hands (Hindman, 2019, p. 101).

As Hindman progresses with her memoir, she delves into the money factor that The Composer puts into her trembling hand — as well as how much she needed it. She needed the money to raise her tuition fees since she did not hail from a rich socioeconomic class like most of her classmates, and describes how it bothered her — a doctor’s daughter (ironically) — to be the only emissary of the Appalachian poor to the coastal rich (Hindman, 2019, p. 108). Hindman acknowledges that out of nine hundred students in her year, at least a few had to be poor. 

The narrator also goes on to share her experiences in Cairo, Egypt, as she studied the Islamic civilization. Her security while in Egypt is in question as she had concerns that the U.S. would “bomb the living shit out of Egypt, the home country of head-hijacker Mohammad Atta, whose family home [was] a few blocks away from the cat-filled student cafeteria” (Hindman, 2019, p. 117). She goes on to compare this situation to the aftermath of September 11, 2001 in the U.S. — as well as their performance in Kansas and how the people wore FDNY t-shirts, a tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

The topic of drug use follows, and Hindman talks about how she had to speak to a therapist on her drug abuse. Her case was sparked by the isolation, the feelings of failure in the midst of seeming success, and her dire need for tuition money. Despite seeking therapeutic help, she still finds herself shaking in bed at dawn, coked-up to the rafters (Hindman, 2019, p. 127). She later seeks a job in journalism as she tried to convince an older male journalist about possibly taking any job offer available — despite the dangers and concerns on the war in the Middle East. As the memoir goes on, Hindman narrates how Yevgeny (a Russian violinist working for The Composer) had enough of the fakery and decided to quit — via a letter to Jake.


The central theme presented in this chapter is of socioeconomic class. As the narrator expounds on the essence of the ‘money factor’ which divided people into social classes, she depicts her struggles to raise money. The socioeconomic class, as presented in this chapter, divided the poor students from the rich. Hindman hailed from an upper-class family while growing up in Appalachia. But as she joined Columbia University, she realizes how other students in her campus hailed from rich families that made her seem financially poor.  

This chapter also explores Hindman’s more-critical issues. During her reading of On the Road, we are introduced to a theme of the plight of women. The act of injecting herself with hormones, just to raise her tuition fees, and ending up with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome that led to the failing of her mid-terms. However, this was not the only venture she had embarked on with the intent of raising money; she worked other side jobs, which she concurrently juggled with her studies.

The narrator also expounds on the theme of hope, as evident when The Composer’s fans — from all works of life — thank him for his music as they share their life-changing experiences. Also, during their performance in Kansas, people wearing the FDNY t-shirts were putting up a hopeful front, suggesting that everything was going to be alright.

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