Most people are very convinced that they have memories of past experiences because of the event itself or the bigger picture of the experience. According to Ulric Neisser, memories focus on the fact that the events outlined at one level of analysis may be components of other, larger events (Rubin 1). For instance, one will only remember receiving the letter of admission as their memory of being accepted into the University of Virginia. However, people do not realize that it is actually the small details that make up their memories. What make up the memory of being accepted into the University of Virginia are the hours spent on writing essays, the anxiety faced due to fear of not making into the university and the happiness upon hearing your admission into the school; these small details are very important in creating memories of this experience. If people’s minds are preset on merely thinking that memories are the general idea of their experiences, memories become very superficial and people will miss out on what matters most in life. Therefore, in “The Amityville Horror”, Jay Anson deliberately includes small details that are unnecessary in the story to prove that only memory can give meaning to life.
In this story, there are many small details. Anson includes a lot of small details in character descriptions such as “Father Mancuso turned away from his window. His head hurt. His stomach pained from the flu cramps. The priest was perspiring” (75) and “A man, who looked to be anywhere from thirty-five to forty-five because of his receding hairline was standing there with a hesitant smile on his face. His features were coarse and his nose was red from the cold” (42). Other small details include Kathy’s actions throughout the story. There are moments in which “Kathy washed out her electric percolator, filled it, plugged it in and lit her first cigarette of the day” (34) and “Kathy worked on some of the children’s clothes – patching the boys’ trousers that were forever wearing through the knees, letting down a few of Missy’s denim pants” (73).
However, these small details are unnecessary in the story. For instance, the section in the story about Father Mancuso not feeling well on page 73 is irrelevant in helping the flow of the story. The whole point of this section of the story is to explain the routine, in which George goes to bed and wakes up again at 3:15 in the morning. As a result of that, the three paragraphs about Father Mancuso within this section seem out of place and pointless since it is not what the author is trying to explain. Also, when Anson explains how “Kathy washed out her percolator, filled it and plugged it in” (34), these details are unnecessary because ultimately, this scene is about how Kathy “sensed someone was staring at her” (34) and is “scared half to death” (34) by Missy’s presence.
Everybody has memories. In the article, “Remembrance of All Things Past”, neuroscientists found that people can remember the details from...