Archive for December, 2004

This story takes place in the generation gap, specifically the gap between the people involved in the Black Power movement of the 1970s and their parents. There are two distinct voices in this story, that of Miss Hazel and Bovanne and the more political—and less “common”—speech of Miss Hazel’s children. Her offspring are also the […]


I was surprised that the main character of “Brooklyn” is an older, white, Jewish man. But he provided an interesting counterpoint for the young Black woman. Both he and the young woman have been alienated from their cultures and have suffered for this alienation. His insincere involvement in the Communist party as a young man […]


I don’t know what to say about this story!! I thought about it, I read criticism about Grace Paley’s work—I could not find any criticism about this story specifically—and I still don’t know what to say. What I learned about Paley’s work through the criticism: She uses various New York dialects, particularly Yiddish, that she […]


A woman lusting after a bowl….kinky. The end of the story very clearly connects Andrea’s attachment to the bowl with her unresolved feelings about a former relationship. But the bowl seems to represent the allure of “deviant” sexuality for this woman. The bowl is a remnant of a deviant relationship—an affair she had while she […]


Yikes. What a disturbing story. There is a very messed-up, Oedipal-like triangle (tinged with narcissism) going on in this story. Mr. Fortune and Mary Fortune’s relationship seems more like that of lovers than of grandfather-granddaughter. And Mary Fortune was named after Mr. Fortune’s mother and bears a strong resemblance to Mr. Fortune himself. Mr. Fortune […]


For such a “gods and monsters” tale, I was surprised how (relatively) early in the story Dr. Moreau dies (“offscreen” no less) and without any remorse for his project. Until the end, he seemed determined to build a better Beast who would not revert to its animal form. I dunno. I suppose I am accustomed […]


I thought the militaristic aspect that Mason imposes on Leroy and Norma Jean’s relationship was interesting. Norma Jean’s various activities — weight training, night school, even her organ playing — seem like boot camp or field maneuvers for her battle to leave Leroy. (The image of her marching around her kitchen with weights around her […]


I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this story. Welty seems to be playing with the mythic quest narrative. These two strangers journey to the end of the world (or Louisiana) but not to bring back a treasure or magic elixir, rather to have their fling. This quest doesn’t seem to be a coming-of-age […]


In this piece, Baym criticizes literary theorists for excluding female authors from the canon. Because of the United States’ split from Britain, the earliest American literary critics had no criteria by which to judge American literature—relying on British standards would have been traitorous. Thus, critics had to judge literature based on its “Americanness.” Literature of […]


In this short story, Walker relies on elements of blues music, specifically contrast and contradiction, in telling her tale. Through the two main characters, Gracie Mae and Traynor, Walker explores several dichotomies, including woman/man, rich/poor, and Black/white. As the narrator, Gracie Mae creates the story, but also as a character she enables the telling of […]