Showing 131 - 140 of 141 annotations contributed by Willms, Janice

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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Summary:

These three short plays (approximately 30 minutes each) were commissioned for use in readers' theatre (see Commentary). Each addresses a specific patient/provider concern at the end of life. "Journey Into that Good Night" by Berry Barta is the story of a dying adolescent coming to terms with her mortality. Her physician demonstrates gratifying sensitivity in his understanding of her emotional struggle and the girl's mother progresses perceptibly in her own grief process in the course of the dialogues.

Marjorie Ellen Spence offers "Stars at the Break of Day," set in a nursing home where a middle aged man dying of cancer is confined. The reader meets a spectrum of elderly residents whose antics provide the humor necessary to keep the piece from becoming maudlin. There is discussion about assisted suicide as well as a view into one mode of accepting pain and impending, albeit untimely, death.

The third play, "Time to Go," by C. E. McClelland, is a fantasy which combines comic whimsy with a penetrating and profound sense of reality. The central issue is that of "letting go" of a son who has long lived in a persistent vegetative state following an accident. The victim's story is articulated in conversations between him and visiting "Friends" from another realm. Without introducing theology or politics, the conversations direct the reader to focus on the parents' reluctance to make a decision to discontinue life support.

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An Episode of War

Crane, Stephen

Last Updated: Dec-10-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

In this very short piece, the author plunges the reader immediately into a scene from the American Civil War. A lieutenant, never named, is wounded in the right arm while resting with his troops during an active battle. The next segment of the vignette, almost surreal in its presentation, is comprised of the lieutenant's perceptions of the war going on around him as he walks to the rear in search of the field hospital. At the hospital, the wounded man has a brief, terse, and most unpleasant encounter with the surgeon, who is rude and lies to him. The lieutenant's fear and despair is captured by single lines of tightly controlled metaphor and stark description.

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Concerning Emma

Cozzi, Phillip

Last Updated: Dec-10-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In this little poem the narrator gives the reader permission to observe an appeal to a higher order for help in deciding how best to care for a ventilator-dependent patient. The narrator seems to be addressing Emma's creator to hear his concerns.

Emma now "lives as a swollen eggplant on its stem" although she was formerly strong and healthy. The poet develops the theme of organicity as the narrator makes his final case for guidance: "I must tend the leaf as best I can / and, anticipating other seasons, / turn the soil."

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Corelli's Mandolin

Bernieres, Louis de

Last Updated: Dec-10-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Opening during the early days of World War II, this haunting story of love, war, families and nations, good and evil covers 60 plus years in the life of a young Greek woman on the island of Cephallonia. The narrative traces the disruption of the peace of the old village by Italian occupation, German cleansing, and Communist infiltration in developing a history, while revolving around the personal life stories of the island physician, his daughter and her deep and romantic love for an enemy soldier, and the cowardice and bravery of people caught up in the horrors of war.

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The Wishing Box

Plath, Sylvia

Last Updated: Nov-22-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Agnes Higgins envies her husband Harold's ability to have brilliant and captivating dreams, nightly exotic dreams which he can recount to her in vivid detail. Agnes's dreams, when she has them, are ugly and frightening. Harold begins to coach Agnes in techniques for achieving perfect dreams. Agnes practices. She becomes progressively preoccupied with learning how to dream, but is unable to achieve a satisfying result. She becomes depressed, insomniac, and finally takes a fatal dose of sleeping pills. Harold finds Agnes "with her tranquil features set in a slight, secret smile of triumph . . . ."

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As I Lay Dying

Faulkner, William

Last Updated: Oct-29-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Addie Bundren is dying in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. As she dwindles, her five children, husband, a scattering of neighbors and the country doctor move about her. Each is given a chapter named for him or her, to provide evolving and unique viewpoints on Addie's life and death.

When Addie has finally breathed her last, the action begins: Anse, Addie's husband, has promised her that she would be buried in Jefferson with her own family. The nuclear family sets out in their old wagon. Floods, injuries, irrational decisions, disagreements, fire, and the full mental collapse of one of the children plague the journey. Addie is eventually buried in Jefferson, but in the process of getting her there, the reader learns the sweet and the sordid about this poverty-stricken and profoundly dysfunctional family.

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Of Experience

Montaigne, Michel de

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

In Montaigne's final essay he expounds upon the results of his long search for self knowledge via life experience. He uses disease, health, medicine and doctors as prime arenas for demonstration of what he has learned from living. On physicians: to be a "right" physician, one must have experienced every illness, accident or mishap one seeks to treat. On going to stool: to have a right bowel movement, one must have peace, quiet, punctuality and privacy to avoid unruliness of the belly. On treatment: "I hate remedies that are more troublesome than the disease itself." On the most preferable ailments: here the essayist writes of the advantages of stone: that is, the agony always ends, the disease does not portend death or worse, the sufferer spends more time feeling well than hurting, and it has political advantages for allowing a show of stoicism. And there is more.

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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.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This is the tale of the rise and fall of a gullible young woman who comes under the tutelage of a "quack," a practitioner of faith healing. Phillida firmly believes that she has the gift of healing and the reader finds herself wanting to warn her that she is about to unwittingly harm herself and others. The polemic against this form of medical charlatanism is only thinly veiled in the "art" of the romance form in which it is written. The plot itself is much less intriguing than the cast of characters Eggleston creates to expose the methods of late nineteenth century spiritual mesmerism as a means of public exploitation.

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