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Fluent Now In The Language Of Grief”: The Role Of Tragedy In Short Danger Fiction

2136 words - 9 pages

Tragedy plays an important role in narratives. This is especially apparent in many short danger narratives. “The Boogeyman” by Stephen King, follows a man as he tries to deal with the tragic and mysterious deaths of his children. “Management of Grief” by Bharati Mukherjee follows a woman as she tries to manage the loss of her sons and tries to help others do the same. “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel, follows a woman spending time with her dying friend and attempting to deal with the situation. In these stories, among many others of this genre, tragedy plays a critical role in defining the story. It has become a popular device in short stories and thus must be an advantageous tool for authors. In his essay, “Interest and Truth” Gardner argues that for a narrative to work it cannot simply have meaning; it has to convey it in an interesting manner. Tragedy is an effective means of meeting both of these requirements. Tragedy satisfies the readers’ immediate interest by drawing them into the narrative while also demonstrating the importance of the author’s argument to the readers.
In these works, tragedy acts as a foundation of the story. Without tragedy these stories would not exist. “Management of Grief” focuses on Shaila’s attempts to deal with the tragic loss of her loved ones. The reader experiences how she and many others go through the grief. Some deny it, like Dr. Ranganathan who suggests that her son “could make it safely to some island. It is quite possible that there may be many, many microscopic islets scattered around,” in reality this is an improbable possibility (Mukherjee 939). Some try to ignore it while others move on, but this tragedy is what defines the story. While the foundational tragedy in “Management of Grief” is before the action it still has a huge impact on the story and likewise on the reader. The entire story focuses on the means of dealing with such a huge tragic event and how it affects people differently, especially across cultures. Meanwhile, “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” consists of the events leading up to an inevitable tragedy. However the impact on the narrative is just as strong. Here too, there are different reactions to tragedy, the denial of the narrator and her terminal friend’s acceptance. The story consists of the scattered thoughts of the narrator as she deals with this tragedy and what she did at the moment. Tragedy is located throughout “The Boogeyman” as Billing’s life has been riddled with the tragic death of all of his children. Here it provides the foundation of the story since it is based on the horrors Billings lived through seeing his children repeatedly succumb to the boogeyman. Tragedy plays a huge role in these narratives, and many other short stories, as it provides a good basis for an impactful story.
Tragedy in these works strengthens the reader’s connection to the story. It provides an easy means of creating interest for the story and gives...

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