Hobo Lobo of Hamelin

An Exploration by Andrea Markle

 http://hobolobo.net/ 

The story so far is about how, in the end, you can’t expect money, earned by doing a distasteful –albeit wealthy- job, to lead you anywhere wholesome yet doing what you like will.

Hobo Lobo, a peasant anthropomorphic wolf, wanders into the town of Hamelin: a generally well-to-do, albeit fearful of a higher power, town that is nonetheless over-run by apparent miscreant human-like rats. The wolf sets up shop. Although Hobo Lobo’s pitched craft is to deal with individualistic problems and conundrums, the mayoral candidate soon initiates his services for solving a heavy-loaded problem:  getting rid of the anthropomorphic rat population. Previous attempts have failed at keeping the rats at bay so Dick Mayor looks for some divine/psychic intervention. Now, the reason why this endeavor is so important is because Mayor hopes that by getting rid of this social problem, this victory will garner more votes by an overjoyed populous in the upcoming election.

So Mayor, after visiting a fortune-teller and believing Hobo Lobo to be the divine aberration he was waiting for, recruits the wolf in solving this issue with the promise of fabulous wealth and riches as compensation. For the money, Hobo Lobo does exterminate the rats, leading them off a cliff.

The repercussions are felt by the town, but not in a good way (as is portrayed in the images).  Mayor happily takes responsibility for the ‘improvement’, feeling his victory is assured. Meanwhile, Hobo Lobo has not been paid.

So, after a reasonable time of waiting, Lobo calls up the mayor’s office, gets the receptionist, and is unsatisfactorily dismissed. Afterwards, Lobo walks straight up to the mayoral candidate in his office –who is in the middle of a nude art sculpting process- and gets cussed out by the man, who acts outraged at the thought of owing a hobo money. Mayor immediately has him tossed out.

Hobo Lobo resorts to suing the mayor, but due to the fact that there was no written contract, Hobo Lobo is labeled a liar by the court and the mayor –he’s even slandered in the media.  Now Hobo Lobo owes the mayor for two trials (after the mayor countersued him for blackmail and extortion).  The mayor believes justice has been served; Hobo Lobo is now poorer than ever. TBC.

I thought the use of diction in Hobo Lobo worked well. For instance, this section:

 

“The time has come,” the Lobo said,

“To talk of many things:

Of meats—and beds—and luxuries—

Which hard-earned money brings—

And just how nigh this cliff here is—

And whether rats have wings.”  (Živadinović, 2011-2013+, pp. 3, parts 8-10)

 

Not only is this section an allusion to Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Walrus And The Carpenter’ tale from Through the Looking Glass, but it’s used ironically, just by keeping the same rhyming pattern as the original did. The part, “And whether rats have wings,” really strikes home after the fact that a flying bird animation appeared right before you see the image of Hobo Lobo leading the mice like a pied piper. Birds are referred to as rats with wings, and now the rats must learn if they can fly because they are going to face a nasty fall. The words just seemed so poignant and full of deadly curiosity. Sadly, the answer comes forth: the mice do not survive.

Another sentence, whose diction worked well, was in the beginning of the story:  “They had everything they could ever wish for—with a healthy side-serving of strong moral fibre—and yet their lives were not as fine and dandy as they would’ve liked them to be. (Živadinović, 2011-2013+, pp. 1, part 2)” Not only does this set the tone of the story, as one that sounds like a fairytale in nature (although quickly you realize it is not for children), but it also presents the problem of the story early on which engages the reader  to find out why “their lives were not as fine and dandy”. Plus, words like “fine and dandy

and “a healthy side-serving of strong moral fibre” paint this town as very honest, but perhaps naïve to the horrors of the “real” world. The reader thinks that this town is uncorrupt, only to realize that at the heart of this town is the mayoral candidate who is a conniving dictator: the epitome of power corrupted. Thus the diction is filled with multipurpose: it lays the foundation of the plot, it engages the reader, it describes the town, and it is also ironic (as you come to find out that such a town harbors such a villain), which I think exemplifies how the larger piece is successful.

The sentence I thought worked well was a short one. It is right after Hobo Lobo has taken care of the rats, and the town has had time to react to their disappearance. To describe how the citizens felt about this new development, Živadinović writes, “This was noticed” (p.4, part 2). Simply put, but very powerful, especially when you see the illustrations at the top where the kid kicks a ball at a wall (with a flyer of Mayor on it), and looks very disappointed as he picks it up and throws it back. His friend, who I assume was a rat, is not there to play with him. That’s when you realize (and I believe that’s what the author hoped you to realize) that the rat populace weren’t as evil as Mayor projected them to be: they were friends, neighbors, other integral citizens of the town. Their absence is gone and felt, but not in the way Mayor believes.  Instead of rejoicing they are lamenting. This was quite a moving and sad sentence for me to read. At this point, the tone of the story has turned less bright and more bleak. I simply hope that the townspeople might speak up against these actions and expel the mayor. But that is to be decided…

From Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, I learned that you can take a story, put it on the web, and can add moving illustrations and depth and sound to it  to make reading it a more enriching experience. The whole effect is very new age, it seems.  I also believe the author, Stevan Živadinović  has added a tutorial -for personal use- on how to create such a story-telling media, so that gives readers a chance to adapt new creations with similar formatting. Basically, I’ve learned to open my eyes wider to the possibility of ways story-telling can go.

 

Advertisements

Music sets the Tone

Invention of Love

By: Andrey Shushkov / Electric Literature/ YouTube

An exploration by  Basmah A. Abdul-Haleem

Invention/hard work can’t replace the true meaning of love.

A young man has been dating a natural beautiful woman who used to living in a natural world while he used to living in a man- made world.  He makes everything from gears and bolts.  His horse he rides on to see the young woman is mechanically made. The rose he gives her is mechanically made. The young couple soon marries. They say Good-Bye to her parents and off they go in a hot-air balloon, mechanically made. They both settled in to their new house, mechanically made.  Everything about this young man, he invented except his wife: she’s a human being. She decides she’s going to put her real rose: he had given her into a real flower pot. It seems to be doing well for a short time until he noticed while she was into town: it begins to bend slightly to the right of the flower pot.  He gently picks the flower pot up. From where he is standing, the rose toppled out of the flower pot, outside of the window, and into man-made grass.

When the woman comes home from town, she notices her husband replaces the flower pot with a mechanical one, with a mechanical rose in it which doesn’t sit well with her. She rushes down the mechanical stairs to find the rose.  She manages to recaptures the rose, but the pollution is over whelming from everything being made mechanically kills her spontaneously. He sobs greatly. He soon realizes that nothing mechanical is so important than actually having a real woman whom he once loved so deeply. There wasn’t anything mechanical about her.

The imagery was so intriguing to me because the music went so well with piece. The music sets the tone for two people who are thinking about love.. The music also actually draws people in the theme whether they are romantically in love or they’re thinking about a significant other.

Collaboration in a Sentence

An Electric Literature Single Sentence Animation – Jonathan Ashley imagines Michael Cunningham

An exploration by Alexa Velez

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kwNdbVIiUQ&feature=player_embedded

 

Writer Michael Cunningham and animator Jonathan Ashley collaborate to create a single sentence animation of one line from Cunningham’s novel Olympia.  The selected sentence states, rather bluntly, that a boy named Peter tried to murder his brother.  The thirty-three second animation begins with a dark screen coupled with the disembodied sounds of birds singing.  Wooden floorboards suddenly materialize as three drops of blood fall, the drip-drip-drip being noticeably audible, creating contrast with the birds’ merry chirps.  The image shifts to a hand holding the object responsible for the source of the blood—a screwdriver.  An image of a child crouched in the fetal position appears and it is revealed that he is holding the bloody screwdriver.  One hand holds the tool; the other hand covers his face in shame.  The scene expands and a large birdhouse appears adjacent to the boy.  The two images share the screen, creating aesthetic balance.  Above these two images, the following sentence appears trailed by an ellipse, “Peter tried to murder his brother only once…”  As the words fade, the sounds of the birds singing and the blood splattering against the wood become most noticeable, heightening the weighty pause in the animation.  These two sounds are ongoing, continuing beyond the animation when the scene disappears and the end credits roll.

One element that makes the work successful is the soundtrack that plays as the images flash across the screen.  Even though it is not exactly what most would call “music,” the sounds of the birds singing and the blood dripping create an eerie musical backdrop that instills an unsettling feeling more morbid than if the sentence were to appear in silence.  The heavy, even rhythm of the blood as it drips and the erratic high-pitched singing of the birds generate an unusual form of harmony—lulling, yet disturbing.  It is important to note that the songbirds are the first to be heard in the audio, establishing a false sense of normalcy in order to create greater contrast with the first image (blood spattering against wood).  The moment when the audio is most powerful is when the sentence disappears and the image of the boy and the birdhouse dominate the screen.  The images are still, but the audio keeps the scene alive.  The power of the audio effects hold the viewer transfixed even when the image vanishes and the screen goes black.

Only one sentence is used in this piece, “Peter tried to murder his brother only once…” The sentence is simple but open to multiple interpretations when coupled with the images provided by the animation.  The wording in the sentence makes it difficult to determine whether or not Peter was successful.  If the sentence were simply “Peter tried to murder his brother” and ended there, it would be clear that it was a failed attempt.  However, because the words “only once” are added followed by an ellipse, this opens the possibility that the murder attempt was successful.  It only takes one try to make something so horrible permanent.  Another point worthy of speculation is the identity of the child in the animation.  Is the boy holding the bloody screwdriver Peter or his brother?  Though it would be natural to assume that Peter is the boy in the animation, it could very well be his brother.  Perhaps we are witnessing the brother holding his injured eye after removing the screwdriver, which Peter used as a weapon.  The idea conveyed by this one sentence animation is powerful and draws a parallel to the biblical story of Cain and Abel, the two sons of Adam.  According to the Bible, Cain committed the first murder in human history by killing his brother, Abel.  In fact, Peter is also a biblical name.  The sentence, which comprises this new media piece in its entirety, is effective because it is simple, powerful, and open to multiple interpretations.

When I first came across this piece at the beginning of the semester, I did not fully understand why it was so disturbingly effective.  After working on my own new media project, where music plays a prominent role, I have become more aware of how sound factors into the elements of storytelling.  From this single sentence animation, I learned that a successful soundtrack does not have to be a complex piece of music.  Normal, everyday sounds also have the power to generate an emotional response.  Who would think to combine the sounds of birds singing with blood dripping?  It is mind blowing that this thirty-three second animation is able to disturb viewers with noises of the mundane.

Let’s Play a Game

 

 “The Game” by Jack Holt

An exploration by Patty Ganzelli

http://jackkholt.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/the-game/

 

The main idea of “The Game” is to present different perspectives to a single bizarre event and allow the reader to draw conclusions of their own.  “The Game” is a set of four interconnected flash fiction pieces each containing a constraint of exactly 101 words.  Each piece is told from the first-person point of view, and each has a different narrator, all unnamed.

The first narrator states that they had spoken to a man named Professor Runcorn about the “Pine Woods Incident,” which Runcorn describes as a meteorite crashing to earth and killing two unidentified persons in the woods.  However, there are no records of any meteor even coming remotely close to the planet and therefore the police are launching an investigation.

The second narrator tells of the wind interfering with his chase, but it will be over soon as he has his prey cornered in the woods.

The third narrator is scared and hiding behind a tree in the woods, helpless as he knows his pursuer is watching him.  He is wounded and trying to calm down and catch his breath when he hears a faint whistle that he knows is not coming from his pursuer.

Finally the fourth narrator is watching the others, and indeed has been watching them for a while.  He has been orchestrating their chase, subtly manipulating the elements around them from a silent distance.  He decides to bend the rules to his own game creatively, still keeping the facts rooted in “their science,” thereby ending the game.

The characterization of the narrators is very successful in this piece.  The author managed to give each narrator their own voice through diction despite the constraint, thereby adding to the mystery of each character.  Narrator #1 gives the impression of a television journalist who has just interviewed Professor Runcorn “regarding what has been coined the ‘Pine Woods Incident.’”  While the majority of his section is told by Runcorn, the narrator’s identity is still clearly defined through two short sentences.  Narrators #2 and #4 are similar in that they are both pursuing someone and are aware of their power, yet both still have distinct voices.  Narrator #2 is angry and vengeful, calling his prey a “little bastard” and ready to “see him quickly ended.”  Narrator #4 is written with a fulsome, superior tone, an “invisible, distant” god who is controlling the tiny mortals on his “orchestrated stage.”  He speaks lazily of his victims, saying he may “fancy letting loose [his] more imaginative side today” and “accept the punishment later.”  Narrator #3 also has a very unique voice: he is frightened and on the run.  He speaks in short clipped sentences that mirror his anxiety.  He is the only character that speaks of his own physical body: “I rest my trembling, bloodied hand upon my chest.”  His attempt to calm himself by counting, then by breathing, and then counting again also reveals his character: he is much more frightened than even he knows.  The author does a very successful job in creating differences between the characters.

 

“So occupied were they with each other, the real danger registered not even a frivolous wonder.”

This sentence stuck out to me the most.  It is bone-chillingly ominous and beautifully written.  It makes me think how anyone could be this narrator, watching us from an invisible distance and could easily blow us away and we would have no idea.  Sometimes we are so preoccupied with other things and people that not even in our wildest dreams we are aware of any possible outside danger.  The phrase “frivolous wonder” really stood out to me as well.  The imagery is very beautiful and has an almost childlike, fantastical connotation.  Without the word “frivolous,” this sentence would not nearly function as well.  The author chose this word for a purpose: rather than writing something more sinister or a phrase like “not even a fleeting thought,” frivolous does give the sense of giddy playfulness.  After all, the whole thing is a game.

Having a constraint for the number of words can be beneficial to a story as it causes you to choose your words more deliberately.  Each sentence serves a function to both reveal character and progress the story.  I tend to be wordy with my writing and this piece shows that less is more.  I also think this story will help when writing about an event from different perspectives.  It’s not necessary to recap the scene with every change of narrator; subtlety can work wonders.  The success of this flash fiction will help a lot of other writers who are struggling with their stories.  Not every micro/flash fiction needs to be only one sentence long.  You can set your own constraints that will get the best results.

[waiting for title]

[an analysis by Evelyn Buchardt]

I was drawn to Anne Beatti’s story, “In Amalfi,” because it takes place in a location where I’ve been and love, and more importantly because I identify with the female protagonist’s views. This story is about the relationship between Christine, a still attractive, but no longer young woman, and Andrew, a man quite a bit older than her. He’s a retired literature professor turned writer. She was his student. When she was 20 they nearly wed in Paris, but she “lost her nerve,” yet married him two years later, in New York. They parted ways, then reunited again in Paris, then finally divorced a year later. Yet they kept in contact for 15 years, realizing there was an undeniable bond between them, and recently decided to vacation together. In this story they are on their second one-month vacation to the beautiful Amalfi coast in Italy.

The main idea of this piece is that two people in a relationship can be so different from one another and yet precisely for that reason be drawn to one another, and though they can’t easily live with one another at times, they can’t seem to live without one another for long or forever, and this piece also shows how familiarity, routine, predictability and calm love in a relationship can be just as important as freshness, spontaneity and new and unbridled passion, and last but not least that for some people, commitment needn’t necessarily be sealed with a marriage certificate and a symbolic ring, which can feel forced , but that perhaps some people try harder actually to stay together because the other could leave so easily.

This theme/idea of a relationship in which two people are essentially free being beautiful in it’s own way the author shows by having the couple travel freely, yet together purely by choice in the most pristine and romantic setting of the Amalfi coast. The two individuals are quite different from one another, and although they mildly argue over frivolous things and minor jealousies they get along well, because they choose to. Though an emotional person he doesn’t communicate personal thoughts well, but he tries, because he loves her, and he is somewhat jealous and possessive of her. He is sensitive, takes himself quite seriously and doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, therefore all the more sarcasm. He speaks of her as his wife though they are no longer married. Another difference between them is that he sees complexity everywhere, whereas she views the world and as beautiful in its simplicity. He was captured by her supposed composure and sophistication, and views her as mysterious even so many years later. She is rather cool and aloof and doesn’t take him or his jealousies too seriously, although she does love him. She realizes how much she truly loves him during this vacation they’re on together.

Symbols of the theme throughout the story are rings. “Years ago, when they were first together, she had worn a diamond engagement ring in a Tiffany setting, the diamond held in place by little prongs that rose up and curved against it, from a thin gold band.” This traditional style ring represents the traditional confines of marriage, which is why she returns it to him long ago. When they divorce she also returns the simple gold band he gave her when they married. She now wonders what has become of both rings, although Andrew is seemingly done giving her rings by now, as she has always returned them in the past, hurting his pride.

A young French woman, however, entrusts Christine with a precious antique ring out of fear she’ll lose it while boating. The woman never returns for it as far as we know. It’s a very untraditional and exceptionally beautiful antique ring, made of sliver or platinum with a large Opal that changes colors depending on the lighting and is “surrounded by tiny rubies and slightly larger diamonds.” Christine teases Andrew by telling him that it was given to her by one of the Italian beach boys, who like to flirt with her. Although he doesn’t believe her, it causes a bit of friction between them, and although Christine didn’t receive the ring from Andrew and the changing nature of the opal could in her mind represent their free and constantly changing relationship, causing it to make her nervous, “…something about the ring bothered her, like a grain of sand in an oyster.”

In spite of the “epiphany” she experiences during their vacation, that she was ”fated to be with Andrew” she still cannot deal with the symbolism that a ring represents, a sort of seal on a binding contract. She unconsciously compares herself and Andrew to birds “sailing between high cliffs, “flying separately,” yet meeting together by choice. This image of being separate yet together represents Andrew and Christine’s relationship throughout the story, and successfully depicts the beauty of being free like a bird within relationship.

The Value of a Life

[an analysis by Lindsey Pittman]

Luisa Valenzuela’s “Who, Me a Bum?” follows a bum as he tries to find a place to rest and get warm. First, he is turned away from what is presumed to be a shelter in order to make room for others. He sneaks into the subway station during the chaos that is rush hour, only to hear white collar workers complaining about an inconsiderate suicide that will make them all late for work. The bum decides to speak up; he has identified with the business man already in his life and now he feels a closer sympathy with the suicide. His protests earn him a night in jail. It is a blanket and food, but the police station is a miserable place full of protests as well. He is released and turned out onto the streets again, with no place to go.

The discussion of the suicide is the most powerful literary device in use, demonstrating the apathy with which modern human beings regard each other. First, we have the business man:

Damn it, he would choose this time of day to jump under the train, disgraceful, committing suicide when everybody’s on the way to work, no one has the right to do that, what’s the boss going to say, you’ve always got some excuse he’s going to say, why did that guy have to choose my train, I’ll be late and what can I say, it’s all that imbecile’s fault.

This businessman is given no name, no face, just a voice that embodies the opinion of all the busy, bustling modern working folk. The modern working man has no time to deal with or care about anything aside from his own needs and priorities. A suicide, a human being who chooses to end his own life, is not even a tragedy anymore. It is merely an inconvenience.

This sentiment is reflected onto the bum, who—with no money and no resources—is also a mere inconvenience to those around him. “Get out of here, they shout at me, you have to make room for somebody else.” The bum is forced from a shelter because he is just one of the countless bums who is taking up space. Even the police station casts him out. “They’ve pushed me out in the street: good-by to food that’s awful but regular, good-by to a flea-ridden blanket but a blanket nonetheless.” Everywhere he goes, he is not seen as a human being but as an inconvenience. He is the same as the man who committed suicide in the eyes of the bustling white collars.

The bum himself is not even able to fully sympathize with the suicide. “Back to … the daily grind … where I can’t even get in a little snooze because the 8:37 A.M. suicide comes then and interferes with my rest.” Even this man, who is a victim of the apathy of his fellow human beings—they kick him out of the shelter to make room, they kick him out of the police station although he has no place to go—finds the suicide an inconvenience. Even though he claims to identify with the suicide, his own needs come first. And when those needs are infringed upon by the suicide—causing a ruckus in the train station that will keep the bum form sleep—the suicide is reduced to mere inconvenience.

Human life is reduced to a matter of taking up space or taking up time that—if the white collars are to be believed—belongs to more productive and, thus, “worthwhile” members of society. Valenzuela is able to convey this in a story just shy of two pages in the way she compares the bum to the suicide.

The Devil Among Us

[an analysis by Fancy Childers]

In Joyce Carol Oates’ short story, “The Mark of Satan,” the narrator spins a tale that utilizes characterization, allowing the reader to come to false conclusions regarding who amongst the characters is truly the incarnation of evil. The story focuses on a woman, Thelma, who goes door to door preaching the Good Word, trying to convert sinners. She and her daughter happen upon a house inhabited by “Flash,” though he doesn’t really live there. It’s his sister’s house, and he’s only staying there for an indefinite amount of time. During the conversation between Flash and Thelma, Flash attempts to drug the woman and her daughter through a glass of lemonade. It isn’t clear whether he wants to sexually assault them or kill them, only that he’s insistent of having them knocked out. He succeeds with the daughter, but the staunch Thelma is more of a challenge. In the end, he fails as Thelma leaves with her daughter, but not before Flash is overcome with the need to be saved and has Thelma pray over him.

The use of characterization up until this point clearly paints Flash as a “devilish” figure, attempting harm upon two unsuspecting females. However, as Thelma points out, “the wickedness of the world is Satan’s hand, and the ways of Satan, as with the ways of God, are not to be comprehended by man.” Thus, the Devil’s inclinations are obscure, as Flash’s intentions might be. However, if that were the case, it makes it too obvious that Flash is the Devil. We, as the reader, comprehend all too well the evil that resides within Flash, so how can he be the Devil? Instead, I purport, that he is a victim as well. He bears traumatic damage, or the “Mark of Satan.” There are subtle clues through the text that indicate a growth in his character. These would be missed the first time reading through the story. He mentions that he doesn’t remember his childhood, so it can be deduced that something happened to him that has made him suppress his childhood memories. But what?

The answer comes at the end of the story, when Flash’s sister arrives home, after Thelma and her daughter had left. Flash had undergone a spiritual transformation through Thelma’s prayers, but the sister, Gracie, walks in and starts demeaning and debasing him. She scoffs at the religious pamphlet Thelma had brought, and the story ends with her observing her backyard, hoping it will catch fire. She ruminates that Flash, now revealed to be “Harvey,” had been successful and an honors student, but now was a junkie. It can be gathered that she had something to do with his transformation, and perhaps emotionally and verbally abuses him on a constant basis. She, as it turns out, is the evil that has been plaguing Flash/Harvey. But Flash/Harvey is no longer bound by her evil ways, having been saved by Thelma. This is made clear on the final line, “Waiting, bored to see if it caught fire, if there’d be a little excitement out here on Route 71 tonight (…) but it didn’t, and there wasn’t.” This ending line shows that her gleeful prospect at having things burn has been foiled, a fitting metaphor for her crumbling hold on Flash/Harvey’s psyche.

Naïve Optimism

[an analysis by Heather Peters]

Richard Ford’s “Optimists” is about a middle-aged man reflecting on the time when, as a young man, he witnessed his father kill another man with a single blow to the chest, as well as the whirlwind of changes that followed in his family’s life soon thereafter. It’s important to note that although Frank, the narrator, is said to be middle-aged at the time he’s recounting this to the reader, the majority of the piece takes place in the perspective of his younger self at age fifteen. The beauty of Ford’s writing is how, despite the significance of telling the reader of the ages at certain points in his life, Frank is consistently placated by his parents, but more specifically by his mother. The reader is introduced to Frank knowing that he is fifteen in 1959, but we somehow can’t help but feel the infantilization to the point where Frank seems to be a young child rather than a teenager. In one such instance, Frank recalls how he would lie in bed at night while his mother and her friends played cards until Frank’s father came home after work around midnight:

And in a while the door to my room would open and the light would fall inside, and my mother would set a chair back in. I could see her silhouette. She would always say, ‘Go back to sleep, Frank.’ And then the door would shut again, and I would almost always go to sleep in a minute.

Ford employs exclusion as a way of cementing the reader’s projection of Frank as a young child. For instance, Frank is never invited to play cards with the adults, and on the night the story centers on, he is “in the kitchen, eating a sandwich alone at the table, and [his] mother [is] in the living room playing cards with Penny and Boyd Mitchell.” His father comes home early from work, having witnessed a man get caught and die under a train on the railroad tracks. Frank’s mother “turned and looked for [him], and [he] knew she was thinking that this was something [he] might not need to see. But she didn’t say anything.” Boyd, who worked for Red Cross, drunkenly confronts Frank’s father, claiming he could have saved the man’s life if he’d tried to. This sets Frank’s father off, and after additional barbs from Boyd, the two men square off, resulting in the first throw being the last, with Frank’s father almost instantly killing Boyd with a single blow to the chest. Ford takes this opportunity, despite how caught up the reader gets in the scene, to remind us that Frank has been in the kitchen the entire time and that even as readers, we have sidestepped Frank in his own story, “and for that reason [he] walked out into the room where [his] father and mother were…[He] looked down at Boyd Mitchell, at his face. [He] wanted to see what had happened to [Boyd].”

When Frank is questioned by the police, even his response is wrought with naïveté:

I said Boyd Mitchell had cursed at my father for some reason I didn’t know, then had stood up and tried to hit him, and that my father had pushed Boyd, and that was all. [The policeman] asked me if my father was a violent man, and I said no […] He asked me if my mother and father ever fought, and I said no. He asked me if I loved my mother and father, and I said I did. And then that was all.

After Frank and his mother get his father out of jail, Frank says he “did not understand why the police would put anyone in jail because he had killed a man and in two hours let him out again.”

Later that night, Frank’s mother comes into his room and asks him if he thinks his “house is a terrible house now,” as if she is dealing with a toddler.

Over the years, Frank loses contact with both of his parents, and ends up running into his mother at a grocery store when he is in his forties. He approaches her, and soon their conversation turns to the night Frank’s father killed Boyd Mitchell. Ford brilliantly closes the piece by showing the readers that the way Frank interacts with his mother, even after their long estrangement, is still that of a child, even though he is a middle-aged man: “And she bent down and kissed my cheek through the open window and touched my face with both her hands, held me for a moment that seemed like a long time before she turned away, finally, and left me there alone.”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑