Showing 1151 - 1160 of 1212 Fiction annotations

Pursuit of Excellence

Yount, Rena

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

It is sometime in the future of genetic engineering, at the point at which, for a high enough price, one can buy physical and intellectual characteristics for one's fetus. This is the story of a young American couple of average means who have one "normal" son and are negotiating a supernorm status for their female fetus. The action centers around the stresses placed on the young family by the financial sacrifices required to engineer a daughter who would be able to compete in the growing population of engineered people. Husband and wife disagree increasingly, and ultimately the family breaks up over the wife's obsession with having a perfectly engineered child.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Two physicians sit in the Emergency Room of a Kansas City hospital on Christmas Day. The narrator's references to the incompetence or past errors of each is slipped quietly into the text as the story unfolds.

The doctors are telling the narrator of their most interesting encounter of this holiday season: a distraught adolescent, in a religious frenzy, had come in requesting castration for his "awful lust." The two docs managed to blunder the encounter so sufficiently that the boy left, only to return a few hours later bleeding dangerously from his penile self-amputation. The self-centered conversation returns to verbal ego-play between the two physicians, without a hint that either has considered the magnitude of the medical malfeasance against the boy.

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Rappaccini's Daughter

Hawthorne, Nathaniel

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Set in Padua "very long ago," this is the story of a "mad scientist" working in isolation on a completely unethical (at least by modern research standards) experiment involving poisonous plants. A young student of medicine observes from his quarters the scientist's beautiful daughter who is confined to the lush and locked gardens in which the experiment is taking place.

Having fallen in love with the lovely Beatrice, Giovanni ignores the warning of his mentor, Professor Baglioni, that Rappaccini is up to no good and he and his work should be shunned. Eventually, Giovanni sneaks into the forbidden garden to meet his lover, and begins to suffer the consequences of encounter with the plants--and with Beatrice, who dwells among them and has been rendered both immune to their effects and poisonous to others.

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The Birthmark

Hawthorne, Nathaniel

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A devoted scientist, in a brief step from his laboratory pursuits, marries a beautiful woman with a single physical flaw: a birthmark on her face. Aylmer becomes obsessed with the imperfection and his need to remove it. The tale evolves around his progressive frenzy to use his scientific skills to render his bride perfect and the faith of his submissive wife that the union can survive only if he accomplishes his goal. The author tells us that Aylmer "had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies . . . " and, in the secrecy of his laboratory he prepares the potion for Georgiana which results in the disappearance of the birthmark and the death of Aylmer's experimental subject.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

An eccentric aging physician, Dr. Heidegger, calls together his old friends and contemporaries to test his waters of the "fountain of youth." As the doctor himself sits by to enjoy the show, each of his four aged friends eagerly quaffs more and more of the magic potion, each draught further carrying them backwards into their shared youth. Having grown young, smooth-skinned and agile again, the three men begin to fight for the favors of the fourth compatriot now restored to her former beauty.

In the heat of the fracas, they begin to grow tired and within minutes the effect of the "waters" has worn off. The participants in the brief respite from old age are devastated by the transience of the experience. Despite Heidegger's warning that he has learned to appreciate the advantage of age by watching the four of them make themselves fools, they learned no such lesson and resolve to make a pilgrimage to Florida to seek the Fountain.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This is another of Hemingway's dense vignettes, filled with nuance but spare in style. The anecdote revolves around the difference between a clean, bright cafe and a dark, not-so-clean, bar as a place for lonely men to spend the long, sleepless nights. Two waiters discuss a lingering patron in a cafe who overstays his welcome as the night wears on. The old man gets quietly drunk each night; just last week he tried to kill himself, but was rescued.

Tonight he tries to pass the night in a clean, well-lighted place. The young waiter, impatient, to get home to his wife, does not comprehend the importance of this place to this old man's survival. The older waiter, who does understand, walks into the night himself, unable to find his own clean, well-lighted place in which to pass a lonely and sleepless night.

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Disappearing

Wood, Monica

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997
Annotated by:
Donley, Carol

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The narrator starts out at 300 plus pounds (disgusted with herself and remote from her husband). She takes swimming lessons and gradually acquires confidence in herself as she loses weight and inches. She sometimes refuses sex with her husband, starts to stand up for herself. But her swimming and diet become obsessive; she continues to lose weight and wants to disappear.

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The South

Garcia Morales, Adelaida

Last Updated: Jan-22-1997
Annotated by:
Marta, Jan

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novella

Summary:

Tomorrow, as soon as it dawns, I will go to visit your grave, Papa, Adriana, in the long abandoned family home, reflects on her life before her father’s death when she was fifteen. She remembers their closeness and similarities, but also their distance and differences. Wedded by their physical resemblance, temperament and interests, they are also separated--by silence and sorrow, desires and disillusionments.

One night the adolescent tries to discuss her father’s torment, but both become angry. It is their last conversation. In the hours that follow, her beloved father takes his life with a single bullet.

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Dreamsnake

McIntyre, Vonda

Last Updated: Jan-22-1997
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The initial chapter in this novel, Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand (annotated separately), sets the stage for the quest of the young healer/heroine, "Snake," to find a replacement for the snake she had carelessly allowed to come to harm, in the course of caring for a seriously ill child. The remainder of this coming-of-age novel chronicles Snake's journey during her "proving year" (aka/residency training).

Over the course of this year, Snake continues to minister to the sick and encounters, among others, a patient who demands assistance in suicide, a patient who refuses treatment for a gangrenous leg, and a young girl who has been sexually abused (whom Snake eventually adopts and begins to apprentice). There are, as well, myriad lessons in humility, rigidity of thought, and ethnocentrism.

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Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Dr. Raman, a fictitious physician in the imaginary South Indian city of Malgudi that is the microcosm for many of Narayan's stories, is renowned for his diagnostic acumen and "certain curt truthfulness; for that very reason his opinion was valued; he was not a mere doctor expressing an opinion but a judge pronouncing a verdict." When Dr. Raman is called upon to make a house call and subsequent operation on his dearest friend, Gopal, he faces a very difficult professional ethical dilemma.

For Gopal is very sick (dying in Dr. Raman's judgment) and requests a truthful prognosis in order to settle his will and avoid the "endless misery for his wife and children" that an unsettled will would entail, a realistic eventuality with which Dr. Raman concurs. Yet, if Dr. Raman reveals his pessimistic opinion, which he does to his assistant, i.e., that Gopal will not survive the night, then it would "virtually mean a death sentence and destroy the thousandth part of a chance that the patient had of survival."

Dr. Raman does "a piece of acting" and assures his friend and patient that he will live. Gopal replies, "If it comes from your lips it must be true . . . . " Gopal lives and Dr. Raman remarks to his assistant, "How he has survived this attack will be a puzzle to me all my life."

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