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A Poetics For Bullies By Stanley Elkin

1317 words - 6 pages

In the story “A Poetics for Bullies” written by Stanley Elkin, a young boy nicknamed Push recieves his enjoyment from torturing the school kids. From controlling kids on playgrounds to attempting to control the new kid on the block by the name of John Williams. John Williams then comes in and displays an alternative way of getting everyone to do what he wants. Ultimately, Push should be looked at as the better person because he knew exactly who he was and refused to change for anybody, on the other hand John Williams offered help regarding different issues the kids had to get them to follow him instead of Push. The entire story seems to be a fight for control. Push and John should be looked ...view middle of the document...

He claims that he admires all men being equal but yet he does not treat others as he would like to be.
The author displays Push as using two different ways to get what he wants: through mental manipulation or through false physicality. Elkin uses evidence in the story to portray to readers that Push uses his cleverness to exploit the kids. He writes, “Did you ever see a match burn twice […] Strike. Extinguish. Jab his flesh with the hot stub” (1). Unsuspecting kids were his prey and since there was rarely someone to step in cease his actions, he continued with other wicked games such as “Gestapo” and quick-witted riddles. On the other hand, as said by Push before, he does not have much strength, the worse effect he ever had on someone was a pinch, so instead he uses his other resources. The author notes,
“Suddenly I raise my arms and he stops. I feel a power in me. I am Push, Push the bully, God of the Neighborhood, its incarnation of envy and jealousy and need. I vie, strive, emulate, compete, a contender in every event there is. I didn't make myself. I probably can't save myself, but maybe that's the only need I don't have! I taste my lack and that's how I win — by having nothing to lose. It's not good enough! I want and I want and I will die wanting, but first I will have something. This time I will have something. I say it aloud. "This time I will have something!" I step toward them. The power makes me dizzy. It is enormous. They feel it. They back away. They crouch in the shadow of my outstretched wings. It isn't deceit this time but the real magic at last, the genuine thing: the cabala of my hate, of my irreconcilableness. Logic is nothing. Desire is stronger” (Elkin, 7).
Although he did not use actual violence, he mentally instills in the neighborhood kids that he is practically capable of anything. He keeps his control over them with his unpredictable actions all the while never planning to lay a finger on them.
As the days roll on a new kid named John Williams comes into town and Push's desire to be in control spirals out of control when he realizes that John cannot be forced by his will. Soon Push becomes preoccupied with trying to get John to succumb to him, ultimately failing. While he puts all his efforts towards figuring a plan to take John down, John becomes the “hero” of the town. He consciously and subconsciously manipulates the boys into doing what he wants by offering “backhanded-kindness”. He goes to each boy (minor characters) and tells them each...

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