A Semiotic Approach To The Short Story "Glass" By Shena Mac Kay

2539 words - 10 pages

"Glass" by Shena Mackay.A Semiotic Approach.In the short story Glass, Shena Mackay presents the inner feelings and perceptions of Jessamy Jones, a female protagonist, who, as she is waiting in line to the cash dispenser, tries to make sense of her life and of her past.(1)"Glass" - the title marks the beginning of the text and has both a deictic and a declarative function. It has multiple meanings because it can refer to a mirror, a drinking container or a window pane. "Glass" has no determiner; it could be both a noun or an adjective. We could say that the title is intended to be misleading in order to incite the reader's curiosity and to determine him or her to take part in the imaginative process.The author uses almost all the connotations of the word "glass": Jessamy is a painter and she is thinking about the "possibilities of working in glass"; the bus shelter is invaded by small pieces of broken glass; the pavement is ornamented with "cubes of viscous glass"; while waiting in line she observes all the antiquities in a shop window, analyzes an ornamental strip with the name "Coiffeuse" incised in "the frosty glass"; she sees her own reflection in the "slightly distorted glass" sending us to the idea of mirror; at one point she even imagines herself manufacturing glass.Towards the end of the story another meaning of the word "glass" comes into shape: Jessamy's lover accused her of having "no heart", in other words that she is insensitive, made of glass.The girl holding a "blue bottle" unsure in which bin to deposit it, completes the wide range of things made of glass enumerated in the story. As she drops it into the "white bin" the image of frozen glass reappears: "blue on white. An arctic landscape", thinks Jessamy as she observes the girl. The end of the story marks the main property of glass: "old, adamantine, durable; it would take a pickaxe to break it".(2) "The bus shelter was a skeleton." A "bus shelter" is usually made of glass, but the author compares it to a skeleton because its glass was all smashed and broken. We could say that the incipit of the story is in contradiction with its title because it suggests the absence of glass. "The bus shelter was a skeleton", means that only its metal structure remained untouched. The unusual association between a "bus shelter" and a "skeleton", that is a human attribute, suggests a gloomy and hostile atmosphere.(3) "Her feet crunched its smashed glass, like coarse soda crystals under her shoes as she walked to the cash machine, and a glittering pyramid of uncut diamonds had been swept into the call box where an eviscerated telephone dangled." The possessive pronoun "her" refers to the protagonist, we don't know yet her name. Again, this is intended by the author in order to stir the reader's curiosity. She intentionally describes the smashed glass instead of the protagonist, and refers only to her feet and to her shoes. The author's focus is now on the description of broken glass that looked...

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