Wanting to be Wanted


The girls described in Emma Cline’s essay “See Me” are hopelessly lost in their shared desire to be noticed. Cline begins her essay by reflecting on her own adolescence experience of corresponding with a middle-aged man who promised to cast her in a film being made about his life. The two met on the streets of Emma’s hometown when she was just thirteen. Cline writes:

This was exactly what was supposed to happen: you were plucked from the obscure fug of your tiny hometown by the attention of a stranger, the mythic other who had decoded in you the precise features that added up to love.

The trouble with this sort of attention is that it doesn’t always add up to love, is sometimes is characterized by violence or manipulation, and often results in sacrificing one’s own identity in an attempt to please someone else.

The difficult question readers are left to grapple with at the end of this essay is why the girls Cline encounters on the subway long so desperately for attention. Why do they want to be wanted above all else?

Serena Candelaria is a Rumpus intern, and a self-proclaimed fiction addict. This summer, she worked at 29th Street Publishing and began writing a novella. She is currently a senior at Yale, where she studies Literature. More from this author →