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In Stephen O’Connor’s “Love,” Alice’s roommate recently passes away. At the funeral, she meets “a lean, broad-shouldered young man with Slavic cheekbones and wiry black hair that curled crookedly off the top of his head like smoke from smoldering fire” — her roommate’s former boyfriend, Ian. They get closer and after a couple of weeks of hanging out together, Alice says, “This is it! Ian’s the one!” They move in together four months later. Alice, who is still working on her dissertation, begins to believe it is ruining her relationship.  So, one night, she tells Ian that she will quit her job and move to her father’s cabin for the summer to finish her dissertation. Even though she misses Ian, she knows going to her father’s cabin is a good choice because she is getting ahead with her dissertation.  When Ian visits Alice, they are inside a lake and Alice begins to freak out because she thought she saw someone in the far end of the lake’s western shore. Alice thought there was a pervert out by the lake who was looking at her. Ian, however, thinks it is just a bear. Alice becomes paranoid every time she hears a noise out in the woods. Then, Alice starts to question Ian’s loyalty. She starts asking him where he went after work or what he is going to during the week. She thinks he is going out with one of his ex-girlfriends, Gwendolyn. Alice decides to return home to Ian to reassure that their relationship is okay.

“Tell me things I won’t mind forgetting,” she said.  “Make it useless stuff or skip it.”

Amy Hempel’s short story “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” is a story about sickness and loss.  A woman must go through the experience of watching her friend slowly become more sick and eventually die.  Throughout the story, the two women must come to terms with their mortality, and the effect that the sickness is having on them.  Both women know the narrator’s friend is dying, but they never discuss it.  Some things are too disconcerting to talk about.

I missed her already.

Amy Hempel’s writing is evocative and incredibly descriptive.  She prompts us to create our own images, we build the story with her.  She writes in a way that draws the reader in.  It’s both personal and impersonal, the mystery of her style bringing us closer to the characters.  We are brought into the story, truly feeling what the narrator is feeling.  With emotional poignancy and small moments of humor, the characters’ humanity is captured.  We care for the nameless women in this story, we feel their fear and ultimately, their grief.

Stories, like conjuring tricks, are invented because history is inadequate for our dreams.

– Steven Millhauser

In Steven Millhauser’s “Behind the Blue Curtain,” the narrator, a young boy, who goes to the movies every Saturday afternoon during the summer with his father. Until one day his father is unable to take him, so he is left to go to the movies alone. However, when he goes to the movies alone he was in a daze and ends up missing the entire movie. The narrator begins to walk around the theater and explore his surroundings. He finds a door that leads him to “a narrow corridor carpeted in red.” While exploring, he comes across someone: “a tumult of bouncing blond curls shaped like small tubes, a pouting red mouth and round blue eyes, a neckline that exposed the top third of high, very white breasts, which appeared to be pressed tightly upward.” As he continues to follow the girl, he begins to feel something unfamiliar. The narrator says “An unaccountable desire seized me: I wanted to feel the satiny material of her corset, I wanted to place my hand on the fire-lit white breathing cloth.” As he kept walking to the corridor, he came out to a room he recognized, the theater. The narrator comes out to find his father waiting outside the theater.

“You look fine,” he says. “You look great. I’d buy a car from you anytime.”
“But you don’t have money,” she says, peering into the mirror.

In Raymond Carter’s “Are These Actual Miles?” Toni and Leo’s struggle is represented by the car that they bought before they were in debt. The car must be sold because the characters have to go to court, probably to file for bankruptcy. The car was bought before the couple was in debt and when all the problems in the relationship were hidden or pushed aside. Now that the car must be sold, the problems of the relationship are uncovered from the veil of money and privilege. Leo’s unfaithfulness has been a problem in the past but now Leo suspects Toni is being unfaithful after returning home from drunken nights and ignoring Leo’s questions earlier when they were trying to sell the car. Leo knows that his wife, in the attempt to sell the car and also escape from their relationship, tries to seduce people to buy their last item of worth. The car is the last thing of their “wealth” and after the car is gone then they must face their children who have been sent away to love with Leo’s mother to shield them from the problems in the couple’s relationship. The couple has a reason for their excessive spending—their children. Toni says that she had to do without so many things and she does not want her children to face the same things, so the couple spends money on expressive clothes and joining clubs. They tried to live vicariously through their children and give them what Toni and Leo wish they had, but it is in this that they also ruin their children’s childhood because now both their parents are having horrible problems and are so far in debt they cannot even raise their children. As Toni leaves to sell the car, Leo is left to only think of all the mistakes they have made but has a conflict on how to go about mending these mistakes and mending his family. The car is finally sold and Leo lies in bed next to Toni while she sleeps. He remembers the day they first bought the car– their lives content.

Your final essay assignment is to discuss Edward P. Jones’s story “A New Man,” which has been shared with you on Google Drive. In your essay, you should summarize the story, identify what you perceive the story’s theme to be, and discuss those passages that support your understanding of this theme. The essay should be approximately one thousand words and, as always, should be double-spaced, in 12-pt. Times or Times New Roman font.  It is due by midnight on Tuesday, December 13, and should be placed in the Exercise 3 folder on Google Drive. The document should be saved as a Word document and should be titled YourName.ENGL104.Ex3.docx.

The story opens in a boarding school with an argument between roomates over a sock on the floor. It escalates to an argument about how messy Frannie(?) is. During the argument, Frannie(?) sees the principle/headmaster secretary(?) outside her dorm. In the moment she doesn’t think too much of it, until the principle/headmaster secretary(?) knocks on her/their(?) door. She thinks the situation is odd and she wouldn’t have a reason to come to her dorm room. The lady/principle/headmaster secretary(?) comes into her room and asks for Frannie (add last name). She knows this because her mother/father? called the school to tell her. Frannie meets with the principle to discuss her next steps. Frannie is confused about what she is referring to (being a rebel there are many accounts of her bad decisions). Her principle suggests she calls(?)/lives(?) with a close relative. Frannie asks what this is about; the principle tells Frannie her mother died in the hospital because of her broken hip. Frannie says that’s impossible, no one dies from a broken hip (get quote of her saying that). She doesn’t know what fictitious relatives her mother created for the school to know. She quickly realizes that her mom is dead and she has to grow up. With so many questions in her head, she goes to the hospital to hoping to get some answers about her mom and the relatives she might have. She flags down a nurse and asks about a woman that would have been there for a broken hip. The nurse says she died because of a blood clot and someone called to have her body cremated. Frannie asked who called and the nurse said “your father”(?????). Frannie said that was impossible, her mom told her he died in a car crash. The nurse was able to give her an address. She was stunned that her mother told her the story about how her father died, but he was actually alive and she lied to her. She was disappointed that she didn’t hear the truth from her mother. With no one to rely on, Frannie sets off to meet her father. She carries her mothers ashes as she travels to her father’s house. She arrives at her fathers house (quote describing it). When she knocks on the door a butler greets her and tells her to wait a little while, her father should be back soon. After sitting in the living room(?) she hears him open the front door. She hides in the corner of the room and is scared to make the first move.

Tobias Wolff’s short story The Night in Question follows two different relationships between fathers and sons. The story shows a juxtaposition of two different but similar relationships.

One relationship in the story is between Frank and his father, Frank Senior. The relationship Frank has with his father is one of fear, obedience, anger, and violence. Frank Senior beats his son and constantly puts him down for being himself; while Frank’s mother closes her eyes and acts as a bystander. Although Frank’s mother encourages him to stand up for himself, Frank Senior constantly says no to his son and never shows him any example or sign of love. For example, Frank Senior is determined to “break” his son, but Frank wouldn’t break or give in. As time passed, Frank’s father “ceased to give reasons for his displeasure. As his silence grew heavier, so did his hand” (page 639). This quote shows that Frank Senior stops giving reasons for beating Frank constantly. Along with the silence, Frank Senior’s hand grows heavier in weight of disappointment and anger.

The other relationship is between Benny and his father, Mike. The relationship between Benny and his father contains genuine love and affection. Mike would do anything for his son and loves him no matter what. Their relationship is the epitome of a father-son relationship that is destined to last forever.

The Night in Question illustrates how a relationship between a father and a son can play a crucial role in a son’s life.

Frances had come to her brother’s apartment to hold his hand over a disappointment in love…”

In Tobias Wolff’s short story “The Night in Question,” the reader is introduced to two characters, Frances and her brother Frank. These siblings have a very close relationship. They seem to be best friends and always be there to help one another. Throughout their childhood their father, Frank senior, was very abusive towards Frank. Frances did everything in her power to try and go against her fathers wishes. Every time he  would take something away from Frank she would find a way to sneak it to him. She wanted to rebel against her father in any way she possibly could. Frances continued to be very protective over Frank into their adult lives. Frank had became an alcoholic but after an accident turned to a church to help him through it. It is obvious Frances is not happy with the fact that her brother was turning to someone other than her for advice and comfort. She had sacrificed so much of her life to be there for Frank, even to the point where it almost ruined her marriage, and she felt almost betrayed by the fact that Frank would not use her as his comfort.

When Frank was still a baby, not even walking yet, Frank Senior, their father, had set out to teach his son the meaning of the word no.

In Tobias Wolff’s “The Night in Question,” two different and opposing relationships between fathers and sons are revealed.  There is a large contrast between these two relationships, one built on fear and mistrust, and the other built on love and sacrifice. Frank’s relationship with his father, Frank Senior, consists of abuse and violence, while Benny’s relationship with his father, Mike, shows love and affection. The contradiction of these two relationships reveals the importance of father-son dynamics and how the father’s actions ultimately affect the entirety of his son’s life. In the beginning of the story, it is revealed through Frances, the protagonist of the story and sister to Frank, that their father was an abusive man. When Frank was little, his father attempted to teach him the lesson no. Instead of positive affirmation and rewards to encourage Frank, his father would simply beat him whenever he reached for his watch. This was the first of many times that Frank Senior would resort to his fist rather than his words to make sure his authority was followed by his children.

Later on, Frances, when mentioning how her husband disapproved of Frank, stated that her husband could not understand Frank’s delinquent actions because he had never gone through the abuse that Frank had, and thus his perspective on life was entirely different. France’s husband saw Frank’s dependence on Frances like that of a leech on its prey. However, Frances saw Frank’s actions as someone who seeks comfort from the one person who cared about him during their violent childhood lives where they were never shown love. In contrast with Frank and his father’s relationship, the story of Benny and his father, Mike, show the epitome of love and the father-son dynamic. Mike deeply cares for his son and shows this by making a large effort to spend time with him and make sure he is taken care of. Mike is proud of Benny’s personality, which consists of high energy and a deep curiosity about the world. Mike’s love for his son is shown even in his sacrifice, where he is devasted at the thought of losing him, and feels personally responsible even though he did not make Benny go down to the engine room and had told him many times not to.

“Yeah, well you sounded better when you were drunk.”

Tobias Wolff’s “The Night in Question” is about the narrator, Frances, having to deal with the maturity and character growth of her younger brother. Frank, the narrator’s little brother who is captivated by a sermon he heard in church, apparently turned his life around. At first he was reckless and an alcoholic, but now it seemed to Frances that “he wanted to preach sermons at her.” Yet the relationship between the two stayed notable towards each other throughout the short story. Although she gets sassy when she finds him using religion as a crutch instead of staying together like they had done for so long when their dad was abusive.

The human condition is filled with greed and temptation. People often want what they can’t have or jeopardize their own luxuries as an attempt at someone else’s.  Throughout Jeanette Winterson’s, “The Green Man”, the narrator finds himself craving the life of the gypsies. Although he begins the story by explaining how poorly the gypsies were treated and how the town hated them, the narrator soon longs for a life without the responsibilities that come with a wife and family.

To honour. To mock. To fear. To hate. To be fascinated. To laugh out loud.

When the gypsies come into town, everyone is able to observe an entirely different set of standards. Instead of the typical “picket fence” family, they see people who “walk as if they gave never known pain.” The women are more relaxed and they don’t worry about their outer appearance which is incredibly enticing for the people who are juggling their families, chores, and bills. It seems as though the temptation comes from the notion that these people aren’t stuck in one place. They can go off and find new adventures, meet new people and run away from their mundane lives. For example, the narrator wanted to escape from his boring family and typical chores, because of this, he succumbs to his temptations and pursues the gypsy woman.

She was eight years old, and while she feared her father’s attention she also missed it, and resented Frank’s obstinacy and the disturbance it caused. Why couldn’t he learn?

In the short story “The Night in Question,” by Tobias Wolff, the story follows the lives of two siblings named Frances and Frank. Frances and Frank endured a very rough childhood by losing their mother to ammonia poisoning, and tolerating their abusive father. Frances, being the older sibling, always looked out for her younger brother Frank. She strives to protect him against their father, but never seems satisfied with her efforts. When Frances was merely eight years old, she witnesses the first time that her father became violent with her younger brother. Frances recalls the look on her fathers face, Frank Senior, when he first truly questions if his violent actions are acceptable. She knew that he was questioning his own actions when he lowered his head after he struck Frank. Frances sees this minuscule response as a glimmer of recognition of his guilt, and is practically relieved. Yes, her father made an awful decision to let his rage get the best of him at the time, but Frances has some sort of hope that he feels bad enough not to do it again. This is one of the main reasons why she never has the courage to stand up to her father at first, and can’t seem to have any response. Frances questions what might have happened if her mother would just stand up and question her fathers violent actions. She acknowledges that her mother has no strength to stand up to Frank Senior, but she isn’t pleased with her actions. Three years after this incident their mother dies, and reflecting back on this, Frances doesn’t seem to get to emotional over her death. I believe that Frances did love her mother very much, but she did not approve of the example she was setting for her children. In Frances’ mind, she believes that her mother should have stood up to her father, and never let the level of abuse get to the extreme that it did. If her mother stood up for her children and herself, their lives would have been changed forever.

“Daddy, in the Olden Days the Queen married the king and after a year she killed him… It was to make the crops grow”

I find Jeanette Winterson’s story “The Green Man” very intriguing. In this story the main protagonist, a dad, faces the emasculation and burial of his manhood, the smothering and sputtering of his fears, desires, and denials as well as the monotony of suburban life.

In the beginning of this short story, the main protagonist reflects on the gypsies coming to his town and how this affects him personally, as well as the town itself. He begins to rethink his position in life and what it means to be a man; if he can in fact call himself one. In the midst of his self loathing and lethargy towards life,  the main protagonist and his family go to the fair to celebrate his daughter’s 13th birthday. Here, the family dynamic emerges and the reader is able to clearly see the main protagonist’s conflict and resignation over the monotony of his current life. He must appease his wife, though at times he wishes “she would kill[him], collect the insurance, go on with her life and free [him] from the guilt of staying, the guilt of going.”

At the fair, the main protagonist is bombarded by many of his desires and fears which causes him to face reality and make a choice.  He is halted by a fortune teller while viewing cheap products with his wife; the fortune teller prophesizes the stopping of his heart –not the death of him, but his heart. He later makes a series of choices and indulges in his desire.  The entire time he asks “Where was my wife?”, even after he  sleeps with a red haired woman at the fair who asks him to give her his soiled pants to clean. He asks where his wife is when he is lost and found,  for she has molded him ; She  ” coaxed out the grit in [him] and held [him] to his job.” She as the queen has made the crops grow,  has made him “drain the lawn” and “strides [them] on into prosperity and fulfillment.”  While doing so, he has come to lose who he is, his manhood buried and green — is the lawn he cares for selectively on weekends–  he is emasculated by his family’s wants and needs, his fear the only driving force in his life.  He is buried and the gypsies arouse his manhood, rile his fear, and make him adopt false confidence.

After waking from a slumber induced by his affair with the red head, the main protagonist collects himself and goes to get his daughter. When he comes into contact with her, he finds that she has bought a horse. This doesn’t phase him much and they make their way home. At home, he further contemplates his current situation until he hears the sounds of a horse coming down the road in front of his house. He sees his highly anticipated and beloved redhead,  thinking, ” I could leave now and not come back. Grow a ponytail and wear a cowhide coat.” He views her and he views the horse as it shoots its piss onto his lawn, onto his manhood and further sediments his burial and humiliation. Following this, he and the redhead exchange money for the horse and silence for intimacy. It is here,  after she walks away,  that his heart stops. He will continue to live life as a shell of himself, there, but long gone. He has lost the battle torn and cowardly, the Green Man— the gypsy’s Corn King, left with nothing — and still he will shout “Long Live the Queen!” as she, as they, go on “to honour. To mock. To fear.To be fascinated. To laugh out loud” at him and by him.

“Good student, natural athlete, but his big thing was mechanics. One of those boys, you put him in the same room with a clock and he’s got it in pieces before you can turn around. By the time he was in second grade he could put the clocks back together, not to mention the vacuum cleaner and the TV and the engine of Mike’s old lawn mower. Frank was plain in his speech, neither formal nor folksy, so spare and sometimes harsh that his jokes sounded like challenges, or insults. Frances was about the only one who got them.”

In Tobias Wolfe’s “The Night In Question,” Benny is seen as Frank’s foil. The narrator tells of how smart, efficient, and obedient Benny is at such a young age. It appears that though he is very smart, Frank does not like this. Frank is described as being just the opposite. He does not have a big vocabulary and always wanting to get into trouble. It appears that in the story, the narrator highlights these two boys’ attributes and abilities to show the conflict. Benny faces much child abuse because of Frank. It is possible that Frank sees how great Benny is and has an internal conflict with himself and/or views himself as not being good enough. Frank’s internal conflict may be what leads him to such anger. The insecurities that are caused by the attributes of Benny cause Frank to question whether Frances really loves him. This story shows how many insecurities shape our thought process, relationships, and actions. It is a matter of whether we can all rise above those insecurities and feel more confident of one’s self.

“She remembered it all – the Tremor in her legs, the hammering pulse in her neck as the smell smoke grew stronger. She can still taste that smoke and hear her father’s steps on the stairs, Frank panting beside her, moving closer, his voice whispering her name and her own voice answering as fear gave way to ferocity and unaccountable joy, it’s okay, Franky I’m here.”

The two main characters, Franky and Francis, both grew up with an abusive father. Francis defended and mothered Franky after their mother killed herself with ammonia. Francis would help her brother every chance she got. She protected him from their father, Frank Senior. He both mentally and physically abused them, almost ruined Francis’s marriage, and caused trouble at her work. Francis and Frank, when the story, starts they are adults. Frank is telling Francis of a man named Mike anTRAINd his son Benny. Mike is forced to make the decision, after bringing his child to work, to either continue putting the bridge down so a train can pass or to go find his child who wandered off. Mike knows his son is down in the gears, he knows if he pulls the switch to let the train pass then he will kill his child. Francis stops him immediately when Frank starts describing the people on the train. She says she knows how it’s going to end as Mike picks the people over his own son then she tries to make her brother do the same choice in a hypothetical situation. Frank says that he’s not faced with that decision so he doesn’t know what he would do but Francis is dead set on how she would not choose the Train full of people she would choose the kid. Frances says on page 642 that, “She knew what his answer but he — in the end there could be no other answer — but he couldn’t just say she’s my sister and let it go at that. No, he has to noodle up some righteous, high-sounding reasons for choosing her. And maybe he wouldn’t, at first, maybe he chicken out and come up with the Bible-school answer. Francis was ready for that she was up for a fight; she could bring him around. Frances didn’t mind a fight, and she especially didn’t mind fighting for her brother.” Frank and Francis, when they are little, both defy their father in every way they can, which results in Frank Senior getting mad and his temper getting shorter.

Drunk on “Love”

Call it a wild perversity or a wild optimism, but they were right, our ancestors, to celebrate what they feared.  What I fear, I avoid.  What I fear, I pretend does not exist.  What I fear is quietly killing me.

Jeanette Winterson’s “The Green Man” is a story told from the perspective of a cynical, world-weary father and husband, as he explores a Midsummer festival with his wife and daughter.  He walks with them throughout the fair, making bitter observations and feeling disconcerted with the path his life has taken.  He mourns the loss of intimacy with his wife and feels that he “shuffles behind [her] clutching the bills and tool box.”

The archetype of the Green Man is found in many cultures.  Dionysus and Bacchus are some of his other names.  He is found in Turkish myth, in Nepal, India, and Lebanon, among others.  Consistently he symbolizes nature and agriculture, as well as drunkenness and sexual inhibition.

The narrator in “The Green Man” reminisces about past Midsummer festivals, where he felt so much freer, wishing he could go back to those times.  He’s tired of his lackluster marriage, tired of feeling inferior to his wife’s success and determination.  When he finds himself facing an opportunity to break from his spiritless and loveless marriage, even temporarily, he takes it.  Drawn in by a beautiful woman, he loses himself for a few hours, caught up in the mysticism and aura of the fair.  He falls under the Green Man’s spell, and for a short moment, feels alive again.

In the short story “The Green Man” by Jeanette Winterson, a man goes through his life wondering if this is the life he really wants. Although he loves his family, he is still wonders if this is what he really wants, or if there are better things out there for him. There is a fair in town that the family goes to together. The mayor wants the fair to be banned because there are many gypsy people there. While they are at the fair, the father finds himself very distracted and his mind starts to wander. He keeps getting separated from his wife and daughter, until he finds himself in a strangers caravan. This stranger is a gypsy women. When he wakes up, his watch is missing and he realizes that he needs to leave as quick as possible. When he leaves, he finds his daughter on a horse and the man holding the horse says that she has bought it and they will drop it off later. They get home and the man still is confused as to whether this is the life that he wants for himself. Someone shows up with the horse and he goes out to pay for it with the money he was going to use for a new car. The person that showed up ended up being the woman that he had stayed with. He knew this because she was wearing his watch on her wrist. He wonders if he should leave his wife and daughter and become a gypsy. All throughout the story the man is torn about what path in life to choose for himself.

This didn’t sound like Frank. Frank was plain in his speech, neither formal nor folksy, so spare and sometimes harsh that his jokes sounded like challenges, or insults. Frances was about the only one who got them. This tone was putting her on edge. Something terrible was going to happen in this story, something Frances would regret having heard. She knew that. But she didn’t stop him. Frank was her little brother, she would deny him nothing.

In this short story, the narrator, Frances, is listening to her little brother, Frank, tell a story he heard in church that has “changed his life”. Frances remembers why she would do anything for her brother. As a child, her father would hold a watch up to her brother and tell him “no” each an every time. And each time, her brother would reach for the watch, with her father slapping his hand. After years of this happening, her brother would never learn, and eventually her father slapped him in the face. Frances’s mother simply ignores the abuse. Eventually, her mother commits suicide on their living room floor by drinking a bottle of ammonia. Throughout the rest of Frances’s and Frank’s life in their home, their father continues to defy and abuse Frank. Every time his father said no, Frances would defy her father and bring Frank food when he was banished to his room. She would always say yes to her brother, because her father always said no. This idea of always saying yes to her brother, has wrecked havoc on her life, almost destroying her marriage. But she is convinced her husband doesn’t understand the pain Frank went through. When she starts listening to Frank’s story, he tells about a man who eventually gives up the life of his only son to help a stranger. But what does the story have to do with Frank, and how does it change his life? It may be simply because he feels his father would have done the same, because he feels his father never loved him.

To honour. To mock. To fear. To hate. To be fascinated. To laugh out loud. They gypsies come her every year once a year. Come living. Come memory. Half dream. Half danger. Half man half beast. Satyr them, satire us; safe, good, time keeping, clean, for a day dragged in front of their silvered mirrors.

The short story, “The Green Man,” by Jeanette Winterson, is a story about a married man with a daughter that is struggling to live the storybook life that he has come to have. He has a great wife and an amazing daughter, but he keeps trying to find a way out; a way to ruin it all and find something to invigorate his life. Although he goes through all of the mental stress of thinking the things that would make his wife hate him, he seems to still want to go back to her and just forget about it all. In the quote above, it seems as though this is a third person outside of the story line talking about some fantastical world, but in reality it is just a way he portrays his depressing reality. Every so often, he has feelings of fear, hate, and fascination about his life. He loves it one day, and the next he has feelings of lust towards any and all women he meets. The one constant woman in his life that makes it all okay, is his daughter. Just as the story is ending and we think he has realized this flaw, the horse is brought to the house led by a woman and he starts the process over again.

“For her brother she’d fought neighborhood punks, snotty teachers and unappreciative coaches, loan sharks, landlords, bouncers. From the time she was a scabby-kneed girl she’d taken on her own father, and if push came to shove she’d take on the Father of All, that incomprehensible bully. She was ready.”

In Tobias Wolff’s “The Night in Question,” the narrator, Frances, has to deal with the loss of her little brother’s dependence. Frank and Frances grew up in a tragic family. Their father was mentally and physically abusive towards Frank from a young age. Their mother “could not allow herself to see what she had no strength to oppose;” the strong force she could not oppose was her husband, committing suicide by ammonia. Due to the negligence of their parents, Frances had to take care of her little brother. Frances not only feels powerful but she also has a purpose by defending her little brother. She was there for him during his alcoholism, his many near death experiences, and every problem he ever had to face; he was never alone. Frank tells Frances about the sermon that his preacher told in church. He recounts the heart-wrenching story of a man faced with saving his own son or many strangers. Frances makes him stop telling the story because she knows that the father will not choose his son and this does not make sense to her. Frances asks Frank what he would do and he must think hard of his answer. She is asking him to choose between what his religion says, and the sister that has always been there for him. It is at this moment that one can see that Frances feels as though she can be his only source of comfort. She feels her little brother finding something else to lean on; religion. Frances notices this when she says he sounds different and tells him, “Yeah, well you sounded better when you were drunk.” This gives insight that Frances likes to take care of her brother and she liked him better when he couldn’t take care of himself. The narrator then flashes back to the times when the characters’ father would work himself up into a rage and go looking for Frances and Frank. With her own legs tremoring Frances would tell Frank, “It’s okay, Franky. I’m here” with “unaccountable joy” because she loved being the person that Frank finds safety in. This is a lesson that can be felt by many people—the selfish need to be needed. Frank is straightening out his life and has found comfort in religion, but now has no need for Frances. Frances’ whole world has always revolved around Frank. Now that Frank is finally growing up and changing for the better, he no longer needs her to protect him.

“My parents asked for something to make John-Jin grow. They didn’t ask what that “something” was and nor did I. And Together we allowed in the unknown. It took some time to show itself. It took ten years exactly.(576)”

Susans’ father and mother were hoping for a second child for a long time. After every game of miniature golf with between Susan and her father, her father wished for a second child. Susan, the narrator, talks about how her wishes had changed as the years passed, but her fathers’ never changed. John-Jin was found in a football scarf, but no one remembered the team or color of it because, ” ‘The details don’t matter, love,’ said my mother, changing John-Jin’s american_football_scarf-r34ecfde49a4343f1a263ed3f651a5e72_jpj47_8byvr_324nappy on her lap, ‘what matters is that he’s here with us now. We’ve waited for him for ten
years and here he is (574).'” On page 574, Susan mentions John-Jin not being able to grow. One doctor says it is because of genetics but the family doesn’t believe it. They take him to a specialist and they give John-Jin growth hormones, which later are the cause of his death. John-Jin died from a disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is a neurological disease that, ” In the early stages of disease, people may have failing memory, behavioral changes, lack of coordination and visual disturbances. As the illness progresses, mental deterioration becomes pronounced and involuntary movements, blindness, weakness of extremities, and coma may occur.¹” The lesson that Susan explains on page 576 is one that is important. The lesson is that you shouldn’t wish for something unless you know everything that you are wishing for.


  1. “Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Fact Sheet.” National institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Mar. 2003, www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cjd/detail_cjd.htm. Accessed 8 Nov. 2016.

I know something important now. Don’t ask for a thing unless you know precisely and absolutely what it is you’re going to get and how you’re going to get it.

The short story “John-Jin” by Rose Tremain is about a young girl named Susan whose parents adopt a Chinese baby and name him John-Jin. He was “left wrapped in a football scarf in a woman’s toilet in Wetherby.” Susan’s parents realize John-Jin isn’t growing, so they take him to a specialist who injects him with growth hormones. Ten years later, the family finds out that John-Jin has a disease called CJD that is caused by the injections. Susan talks to her father about John-Jin and asks how he knew he was coming. Her father tells her he didn’t know how John-Jin was coming or when he would arrive. He says he just had a feeling. This story teaches Susan that you can’t ask for something unless you know exactly what you’re getting and how you’re going to get it. It’s a lesson about growing up and realizing that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The unknown can sometimes be scary or amazing, but you don’t know what result you’ll end up getting.

Don’t ask for a thing unless you know precisely and absolutely what it is you’re going to get and how you’re going to get it.

In “John-Jin” by Rose Tremain, the narrator, Susan, loved the pier pavilion as a young girl.  She used to go there with her father and she describes it as something that had “far more things going on than you could imagine from the outside; it was like a human mind in this one respect.”  At the end of the wishing well game, before the pier pavilion was closed down, Susan and her father would make wishes.  Susan learns that her father always wished for another child to find its way into their lives.  This wish finally becomes a reality with John-Jin– a Chinese boy who was abandoned, wrapped in a football scarf in a woman’s toilet.  Susan’s parents adopt John-Jin.  Susan’s father, a man who “enjoys a destination,” feels as though his wishes have been answered because they have John-Jin; however, this is not the destination.  Problems arise when the family notices that John-Jin is not growing.  Their parents see a doctor that prescribes growth hormones to the small boy.  Susan wonders where they come from and what they do but does not want to be dismissed for her thoughts so she instead thinks of a dreamy boy who she dances with.  Time passes and Susan is now in dance school when she learns a valuable lesson– “Don’t ask for a thing unless you know precisely and absolutely what it is you’re going to get and how you’re going to get it.”  The old pier pavilion Susan had wanted back was never going to, only a new one in its place.  The boy who could dance beautifully and would preoccupy Susan’s thoughts was now in prison for stealing a van. The growth hormones that made John-Jin grow eventually gave him CJD– killing him.  All of these things that were once wanted were only followed by grief.  For Susan’s parents, the wish that took ten years to fulfill also took ten years to be taken away.

I know something important now. Don’t ask for a thing unless you know precisely and absolutely what it is you’re going to get and how you’re going to get it.

Rose Tremain’s short story “John-Jin,” is about a family who has adopted a Chinese boy by the name of John-Jin. He was found in a woman’s restroom swaddled in a scarf. He was brought to the hospital where the family later adopted him. As John-Jin grew older the family started noticing the fact that he wasn’t actually growing taller in any way. They brought him to multiple doctors to try and find out what was wrong, doctors would reassure them and tell them not to worry because his birth parents were probably very short. The family later took John-Jin to a specialist where they proceeded to inject him with growth hormones. Ten years later a disease that has laid dormant in John-Jin’s body that had come from the growth hormones began to make itself known. John-Jin was paralyzed completely and later died at the young age of twelve due to the disease.

I know something important now. Don’t ask for a thing unless you know precisely and absolutely what it is you’re going to get and how you’re going to get it. Don’t ask for the old Pier Pavilion back. There’s no such thing as the old Pier Pavilion. There will only be the new Pier Pavilion and it will be different. It will not be what you wanted in your imagination.

In the short story “John-Jin” by Rose Tremain, a young woman discovers that there are consequences to every action that will cause a change that cannot be taken back, intended or not. When the protagonist, Susan, is a 10-year-old girl, she loves to walk to Pier Pavilion with her father, marveling at the bustling and chaotic interior of the Pavilion that holds many activities. Included in the Pavilion is a miniature golf course, where at the end of every round Susan and her father wish at a wishing well. Susan wishes for many things over the years; her father wishes for “John-Jin,” although it would take some time before Susan knew that was what he always wished for. When a storm hits the coast, the Pavilion detaches itself from the Pier, rendering it unsafe for further use until it can be rebuilt. Later on, Susan’s family adopts an abandoned Chinese baby named John-Jin. The Pavilion is soon rebuilt, and Susan’s parents decide to add John-Jin’s name to a girder, stating that it may help John-Jin in ways they cannot predict. As John-Jin begins to grow older, he progresses in all aspects of development except his growth. Susan’s parents decide to have a doctor give him growth hormone injections, unaware of the consequences that will follow this action. While John-Jin does grow to a more socially acceptable height, the injections given to him were contaminated by a disease, and ten years later, John-Jin dies. As Susan reflects back on her younger brother and this turn of events, she realizes that when she wished for the Pavilion to come back she did not comprehend the consequences that would follow. She was not aware that a new Pavilion did not mean an exact replica of the old one, but rather a completely new one that now held a different importance to her. Just like the Pavilion, Susan’s parents wished for a cure to John-Jin’s stunted growth. They did not intend for John-Jin’s health, which they were trying to improve, to drastically change due to a disease in the growth hormones. While the injections were an intended consequence for him to grow, they became an unintentional consequence that caused him to die in the end.

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