Showing 1191 - 1200 of 1213 Fiction annotations

Gunnar's Sword

Bly, Carol

Last Updated: Oct-25-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Harriet White is an active, energetic 82 year old resident of the Lutheran Home. We follow her through a winter day: a birthday party for a staff member, the funeral of another resident, a visit from her son, and her daily visit to see her husband who had a severe stroke and lies, uncommunicative, in the hospital ward. Mrs. White's son asks her, as he has before, to come and live with him and his family. He also reveals that he has sold the family farm. She is devastated that he had not discussed it with her, but she puts up a good front, saying it was the only sensible thing to do.

Later, she decides to walk several miles to visit the old farm. She does so, and in the evening a search party from the Lutheran Home find her there. As they drive her back, she realizes that her status has changed: she is no longer a stalwart helper, but has turned into a difficult old woman who is liable to wonder away.

View full annotation

Bedrock

Proulx, E. Annie

Last Updated: Oct-21-1996
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A widower, Perley, marries Maureen, a woman four years younger than his daughter. Not long after they are married, Maureen, in cahoots with her brother, begins to emotionally and physically abuse her husband, taking over his land and farm. Perley feels he "deserved what was happening" and cannot fight back. Finally, he does strike out at Maureen’s brother, leaves him unconscious in the kitchen and goes to spend the night in the hayloft. There, he thinks back to his first encounters with Maureen and her brother when they were children, reflecting on the abuse and poverty that dominated their lives and that led, ultimately, to the present crisis.

View full annotation

To Room Nineteen

Lessing, Doris

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Susan and Matthew Rawlings marry in their late twenties and raise four children. When the youngest child goes off to school Susan, who quit her job to mother, does not experience the sense of freedom that she expected. She feels simultaneously as if she has nothing to do worth doing and never has a spare moment to herself. Her day is taken up in waiting for the children to come home, consulting with the maid or worrying about dinner. She becomes anxious and distant, pulling away from her husband, who begins to have affairs.

Finally, in order to get some time alone, she rents a hotel room every afternoon where she just sits and thinks. Her husband assumes she is having an affair and tracks her down. Knowing that his rational world will not recognize her "irrational" feelings she tells him that she is indeed having an affair. The next day, she returns to the room and kills herself.

View full annotation

The Devil

Maupassant, Guy de

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A young farmer's mother is dying. The farmer, Honore, is concerned about his mother but he is even more concerned about getting his wheat in before the rains come. He is prepared to leave her to die alone, but at the insistence of the doctor agrees to hire Mother Rapet to tend his mother. Mother Rapet is an old washerwoman who supplements her income by watching the dying and preparing them for burial. La Rapet offers to work for Honore for a daily wage. Honore refuses, for he knows how obstinate his mother is and fears she will take a long time to die making La Rapet's services expensive. He insists on a set rate and La Rapet eventually agrees.

After three days, the mother still has not died and La Rapet realizes that she is losing money. Taking matters into her own hands, she tells the dying woman that at the moment before death everyone sees the devil. She then wraps herself in a blanket, puts a pot on her head, and throws a pail across the room making a huge noise. The dying woman thinks she is the devil and struggles to leap out of bed; instead, she collapses on the floor, dead.

View full annotation

White-Jacket

Melville, Herman

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

White-jacket is a sailor on the U.S. frigate Neversink. His nickname derives from a jacket stitched together from leftover scraps of rags. This jacket makes the other sailors superstitious and as the ship heads towards Antarctica his mess group kicks him out and he joins another group, serving under the much-liked petty officer, Jack Chase.

The journey is a dangerous one. A man falls overboard. There are constant floggings for the merest inkling of insurrection. All the crew members are forced to watch each flogging. A doctor stands by to stop the flogging if the victim's life is endangered, but he is so callous he doesn't stop a single one. The doctor also prescribes medications, but never attempts to change the conditions that cause the sailors' illnesses, like malnutrition and exposure.

When the ship lands in Rio de Janeiro, Dr. Cadwaller Cuticle boards. In order to show off to the ship's doctors, he amputates the healthy leg of a sailor, who is terribly frightened as the doctors discuss his impending fate in front of him. The man dies of shock. When the boat continues on its journey, White-jacket accidentally falls from the riggings. He barely escapes being speared when a ship-mate mistakes his jacket for a whale. He is fished out and sent up again to complete his task.

View full annotation

The Law of Life

London, Jack

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Old Koskoosh was the chief of an Eskimo tribe. Now he is blind and lame, and his tribe is preparing to leave him alone in the snow to face his death as they travel on without him. His son leaves him a pile of sticks to feed the fire beside him. When the fire dies, so will he. As he waits alone for death, he thinks of the time he left his own father in the snow. He also remembers having seen a sick, old moose killed by wolves when it straggled behind the rest of the herd. "It was the law of all life," he decides. When he feels the cold nose of a wolf on him and hears the pack's footsteps surround him, he first fights them off, then gives in.

View full annotation

The Scarlet Plague

London, Jack

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

It is the year 2073. A boy and his grandfather, clad in animal skins, are walking through deep woods. Having fought off a bear, they come to a fire on the beach, where several other boys sit watching their sheep. Their grandfather asks for a crab and they tease him with empty shells until he cries. Finally, they relent and ask him to tell his story about the past and the scarlet plague.

The grandfather had been a literature professor at The University of California-San Francisco. In the summer of 2013, rumors began that a new plague was killing people in New York. Those infected developed a scarlet rash, had a few convulsions, then settled into a sleep-like state in which they became numb and died, their bodies decomposing almost immediately. The entire process took at most an hour, but sometimes as little as ten minutes. Bacteriologists died even as they tried to find a vaccine. People began dying by the millions. The plague finally reached San Francisco and mayhem broke out. The wealthy tried to flee the city and the poor murdered them and looted in revenge for their long oppression.

The professor survived. He lived alone in the Grand Canyon for three years, then set out to see if anyone else was alive, finding a workingman and his woman slave. He met others and began a family which included the boys to whom he is telling his story. There is no means of communicating across the country or to other nations, since the fires set by looters consumed nearly every structure. Society has been set back to a nomad existence. The boys do not believe most of their grandfather’s story. They fight amongst one another and with him in a language that is only partly English. Finally, they rise, leaving the grandfather to straggle along behind into the wilderness.

View full annotation

Time's Arrow

Amis, Martin

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Marta, Jan

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Tod Friendly awakens from death, rejuvenates, and becomes a surgeon. In New York he becomes John Young. He travels to Lisbon and a privileged existence as Hamilton de Souza. He leaves Lisbon for Salerno, then Rome. As Odilo Unverdorben he travels north to Auschwitz Central where he resumes his surgical career and conducts research. Through this time he has a series of affairs until he joins his wife. Their daughter dies, they marry, then court. Odilo works as a doctor, then attends medical school. He joins a youth organization and lives with Father and Mother. Finally, he enters Mother.

View full annotation

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This short narrative, delivered in the first person by the protagonist, George Dedlow, is a summary of the fictive experience of a wounded Civil War Captain. George's training as a surgeon was interrupted by the war and he entered the Union Army as an infantry officer. He was shot by musket in both arms, resulting in the amputation of one at the shoulder. After rehabilitation, he returned to the battlefield, only to lose both legs at mid-thigh and subsequently the remaining arm to infection.

The remainder of the story is that of a trunk, a body and head without extremities, who experiences all the manifestations of the phantom limb syndrome. The final episode is an encounter at a seance during which Dedlow is transiently reunited with his missing legs.

View full annotation

Dr. Rapallo

Menick, Stephen

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The story begins with Dr. Frank Rapallo's son recalling his father's funeral and then progresses with a series of vignettes that show us who Dr. Rapallo was and how he died. Rapallo was an old time doctor who loved his work and whose patients told him "everything."

The boy was only seven when his father had radiation treatment for a cancer of his shoulder; subsequently, he had surgery to try to save the arm, but this left a hole "big enough to fit my hand." The hole never healed. He lost the arm anyway, but continued to perform operations with the assistance of Matthew, his young Japanese partner. The son reflects on his father's experiences in World War II--he was profoundly moved by the destruction in Japan and by the courage of Japanese physicians.

A strong, dedicated doctor, Rapallo was painstakingly honest, both with his patients and himself. In the end, he developed an incurable infection in his incurable wound. With characteristic dignity, Dr. Rapallo set about doing his last things--seeing patients for a few hours, visiting with his old friend Finch--and then in the evening took the contents of the vial he had prepared, and died.

View full annotation