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The Uplifting Tale of Today Will Be a Quiet Day

The Uplifting Tale of Today Will Be a Quiet Day

Some readers see death, but when I read the story “Today Will Be a Quiet Day” by Amy Hempel, I find it to be a light hearted, first-hand account of people coping with transition. Even its location in the table of contents under the heading “Childhood and Adolescent” (Barnet), implies that the story is not about death at all. A newly defined family, one man, a boy and a girl, is faced with the aftermath of divorce and explore among themselves the intricacies of life. The story gives us sublime but keen insight into the transition and adjustments these three people make in this story.

The children’s transition is marked by a rivalry, one that surfaces early on in the story and is portrayed through delightful banter and retorts. The children’s bantering relieves some stress created by the unknown tiny steps they are taking in establishing a new type of relationship with their father in the absence of their mother. At no time do the children’s harmless antics towards one another escalate as indicated by critic Tara Baker when she explains that their arguments become deeper than the usual childish bickering. Baker seems to believe the children’s digs into one another are being fueled by difficult situations they have had to deal with lately (170).

Brian Motzenbecker supports my idea that the parents are divorced but finds symbolism in what the children discuss and the father’s “quips” (174). I can suggest to the contrary that these stories within the story are meaningful but not symbolic at all. The rapid succession of jumping from one topic to the next suggests to me that the need for conversation without a break is necessary. It keeps everyone from simultaneously t…

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…d happily due to the father being able to encompass the entire day’s events into his affirmation. The natural resilience his children display is admirable and probably has much to do with how he and their mother raised them. They show a type of frustration that is both contained and civilized. They avoid expressing their emotions too much throughout the story. Their lives are continuing, and at this point I’m sure the children know that even their father is going to be “all right.”

Work Cited

Baker, Tara. “Is Today Really Quiet?” Ode To Friendship Ed. Connie Bellamy. Virginia Beach: Gann Designs, 1997.

Hemple, Amy. “Today Will Be a Quiet Day.” Harper Anthology of Fiction. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Motzenbecker, Brian. “Does It Spell Disaster?” Ode To Friendship. Ed. Connie Bellamy. Virginia Beach: Gann Designs, 1997.

Obsession in Araby of James Joyce’s Dubliners

Obsession in Araby

In James Joyce’s short story “Araby,” the main character is a young boy who confuses obsession with love. This boy thinks he is in love with a young girl, but all of his thoughts, ideas, and actions show that he is merely obsessed. Throughout this short story, there are many examples that show the boy’s obsession for the girl. There is also evidence that shows the boy does not really understand love or all of the feelings that go along with it.

When the boy first describes the girl, you can see his obsession for her. He seems to notice every detail such as “her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side” (Joyce 548). You do not usually remember every minute detail of someone unless you are very intrigued by them. Also, note the way he describes her hair as “soft rope.” This shows the intricate way the boy views her.

Another way you can see the young boy’s obsession for the girl is through his actions. Every morning, he waits for the girl to appear, and then he follows her. The way in which the boy waits for the girl definitely shows that he is obsessed with her. The young boy lies “on the floor in the front parlour watching her. The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that [he] could not be seen” (Joyce 548). This sounds like spying, and spying on someone usually indicates that you have a fixation with that person. In this case, the young boy does demonstrate this fixation.

For instance, while the young boy is following her, this is the way he describes his adventure: “I kept her brown figure always in my eye, and when we came near the point at which our ways diverged, I quickened my pace and passed her. This happened morning …

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…ights go out, and he is in the dark. As he stands there in the darkness, he sees himself “as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and [his] eyes burn with anguish and anger” (Joyce 551). I think this is when the young boy realizes that his whole trip to Araby was foolish because a gift from the bazaar is not going to make the young girl love him. The young boy finally realizes that everything he has done has been driven by some foolish notion that he thinks is love, but now he knows it is just a pathetic obsession for the young girl. The young boy’s eyes are burning because he feels so foolish about everything he has done supposedly for love, when he finally realizes all of his thoughts, actions, and ideas were just an obsession.

Works Cited

Joyce, James. “Araby.” The Harper Anthology of Fiction. Ed Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1986.

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