Discussion 2

A. Read pages 182-183. What themes have you identified in the short stories? You can elaborate on a single story, or you can talk about a theme across stories. Wednesday

B. Respond to another student’s Discussion 2A. Sunday

44 thoughts on “Discussion 2

  1. In “Hunters in the Snow” an early theme develops which sees the two stronger of the men in a group of friends picking on Tub, who they see to be the weakest member because he is fat. Although it is apparent that these men are friends they constantly ridicule each other and demonstrate that they know very little about the predicaments in each other’s lives, this is revealed in a bar in which Frank tells Tub of his affair with an underage girl and Tub tells Frank of his binge eating. This newly established openness brings these two men so close together that they cease to care about their dying friend in the back of the truck, demonstrating the futileness of closing yourself off to your closest friends.

    1. I agree with you they are introduced to us as friends in the beginning of the story but as the story progresses Kenny constantly ridicules Tub. I think Tub shot him in self defense because he was scared but he showed no remorse in the end. If they cared about their dying friend they wouldn’t of stopped to eat, they would of covered him up instead of leaving him in the bed of the truck to freeze, or better yet they would of actually took him to the hospital. Frank and Tub did bond when they told each other the truth over breakfast and they no longer cared about Kenny dying in the back.

      1. I thought of the interactions between the men as more like a pack of wolves than a group of friends. Kenny was always trying to assert himself as the alpha male, but he looked to Frank for validation. Kenny probably wouldn’t have been as cruel to Tub if Frank wasn’t condoning his behavior. For the group dynamic to keep working they needed Tub to ridicule. As soon as Kenny was wounded and no longer the strongest or loudest of the group, he was basically left for dead. The peaking order had changed once Tub asserted himself, dominating both Kenny by shooting him and Frank by shaking him. It was also kind of an unspoken pact that Frank and Tub made with each other. They each supported each others horrible choices they were making, working out a new dance of power. A real friend wouldn’t support statutory rape or order you four plates of pancakes when you had an eating disorder. It was more like the two men were testing each other out to see what the new rules were. They liked the new dynamic, which only worked without Kenny being there, and conveniently forgot about him. (I think even referring to him in the past tense at the end of the story, even though he was still alive.)

    2. I got the same vibe in the beginning of the short story “Hunters in the Snow”. I pictured Tub to be the younger brother type that was always catching up to the older boys. It seems as if on the outside they are tuff and gruff towards each other but each of them are missing something on the inside. It seemed as if the shot was not a big deal. If my dad shot one of his friends while hunting whether it be on accident or on purpose, I would think it would be more dramatic. The Farmer didn’t even seem too concerned when he asked if Kenny was shot, he just said “he will leave the light on!”. As I kept on reading the story and the men proceeded to make several stops and I kept on thinking, “Get Kenny to the hospital!” But it seemed like in the end, the death of Kenny was not even a concern. Brandon I love your thought on the pack of wolves and I think that is really good symbolism. The theme is about dominance and friendship but it is also about cruelty towards each other.

    3. I agree, the friendship between the men seems to change from the beginning of the story to the end. The men learn a lot about each other through tragedy. After Tub shot Kenny new information came to light. We learned about the secrets of each man, and Tub and Frank became closer friends, but at the cost of the death of their friend.

      1. This is a great discussion thread with lots of observations about the way the friendship between the three is dynamic. What is the point of view in this story? Is that point of view necessary in order to deal with the theme you have identified?

  2. A theme that I noticed in “A&P” is power, or maybe a fight for it . The main girl of the three, or “Queen”, knows that she has the power in the beginning. She knows everyone is looking at her, but doesn’t pay any real attention to the fact. Then when the manager, Lengel, notices how she is dressed, he takes back the power by humiliating the girls, telling them that they are dressed inappropriately. Sammy, the check-out clerk and narrator, I think tries to gain some power by quitting and claimed the act was heroic. I doubt he got any power from it though, since the girls really didn’t take notice of it, and the manager says that it will hurt him in the long run.

    1. I can definitly see power being a theme in this story. The fact that the manager, Lengel doesn’t notice anything until he sees the way these girls dress and then trys to throw his “managerial” position around shows it all. Then Sammy believes he will gain power from quitting his job. Everyone wants some sort of power.

    2. I honestly didn’t think about this story in this way until you mentioned it. That is an interesting point of view from the girls side. The narrator is Sammy in first person, however we learn so much about the girls through his observations. He points out who is in charge, who is insecure, who is loud and who is cool. Thank you for pointing out this other perspective of the story for me.

      1. Great description of the power relations! If the whole story is from Sammy’s point of view, how is that also a way of taking power? Why do we believe him?

  3. A theme that I noticed in “Geraldo No Last Name” was anonymity. Here is this woman, Marin who goes dancing to all these places but no one really knows who she is, and then there is this man that is the same way. All anyone knows is that his name is Geraldo and that he wears green pants and a Saturday shirt, which I’m assuming is to mean that it is loud in color. He doesn’t know anything about her and she doesn’t know anything about him. Marin comes to realize this when she finds out that she was the last one to see him alive. Suprisingly this is a lot like today’s society though. You go out to a club or party, meet someone where you just get their name, maybe have a few dances with them, and then at the end of the night you part ways.

    1. That is true in todays society there is much anonymity. I can remember when I was of the age that I could go out dancing and enjoy it, we would always get to know each other and see the same people every time. We would become friends and exchange phone numbers. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out dancing, but I imagine that it’s not nearly as fun as it was 20 years ago.

      1. Anonymity does factor in a number of ways in the story. A theme would be an idea, or thought, a central meaning about anonymity. What is the cause or consequence of this anonymity in the story or in life, for example?

  4. A theme I noticed in the stories “A&P,” “Hunters in the Snow,” and “Everyday Use” was the struggle between a disadvantaged individual, or underdog, being pushed into action and eventually standing up for themselves. All of the stories look at the dynamics of the small group of characters and the power struggles happening between them. Each story has a dominate character who thinks they are better than the others, but they are clearly struggling with their own insecurities.

    1. I think your observations about those three stories is pretty interesting. I seems as if in all the past lessons there has been internal issues or conflicts that the main character needs to face. It is hard to grasp some of the information given in some of the stories because of underlying messages. I do see that power is a recurring theme in the stories and that each individual needs/is overcoming their struggles.

      1. You’re really getting at a lot of material here with specific points. As with Jo above, I am seeing a concept–the struggle between people–but not so much the attitude toward that concept. What about this struggle is being conveyed? Is that where the stories differ?

  5. The theme I noticed in “A&P” was confidence and power. The girls walked into the store not caring how they were dressed or that they had no shoes on. People glanced and stared and they moved along like they didn’t notice. The queen, as she was nicknamed in the story, lead them like she had absolutely nothing to worry about. She showed power against the girls but the one who really used their power was the manager who told them they couldn’t come into the store dressed that way because they have a dress code something he could of pulled them to the side and told them in private instead of embarrassing them in front of everyone.

    1. Check out the thread begun by Tanya above. Think about what is being said in the story about power. “Power” in itself is not a theme. A theme is more like an attitude toward power.

  6. The themes in the short stories that we have been reading have been fairly subtle in my mind. I thought in the short story “Geraldo No Last Name” there was a lot of symbolism and confusion with the main character. In “Geraldo No Last Name” there isn’t much information that is given to the story, just enough to grasp the overall plot of the story. It seems as if each character in the stories all have a personal conflict that they are trying to solve within themselves along with the outdoor world. In the previous story “Nuit of the Living Dead” and “Happy Endings” were centered around death.

    1. The idea of personal conflict within coming into contact with the outside world might be a way to tighten up these observations in to a theme. Is there an inherent conflict for all people between their inner life and the outside world?

  7. In “Geraldo No Last Name” the story always reverts back to the dance. Marin always goes to the dances. She enjoys them. She meets this man, Geraldo and maybe even likes him a little. Then this tragedy happened at a place that she enjoyed. The story shows Marin’s anxiety with the tragedy that has happened to this man that she just met, in a place that brought her joy.

    1. This is a lovely summary. I like the poetic quality. The story always reverts back to the dance is a great observation. But you aren’t really talking about theme here.

  8. “Geraldo No Last Name”, in my opinion, has the theme of carelessness in society. The woman, Marin, goes clubbing regularly, dancing and carousing with men she doesn’t know. The surgeon does not show up and the intern is left unsupervised. Geraldo has no identification on him of any kind. The story ends with a feeling of abandonment for this man who dies and without notification the family will forget about him. This left me with a feeling that as a whole society has a careless attitude for things around it. If it does not directly affect us than we do not care and even if it does we sometimes do not have the concern we should. Like Geraldo’s lack of identification, was that because he was an illegal or because having a wallet mark on his hind end in his green pants would have been a fashion misstep?

    1. Ha ha ha. I love the humor at the end! But also you are hitting theme here because, in addition to listing supportive observations that carelessness is at issue, you offer a position toward that carelessness. I think when you start to talk about direct effect being necessary for people to care, you are playing with different nuance of the words care and careless.

  9. A theme I noticed in “Geraldo no last name” was connection, even though Marin didn’t really know Geraldo, she still felt troubled by his death because she had interacted with him to feel even the faintest kind of connection to him.

    1. That is an interesting observation; you could say the same about “Hunters In The Snow.” All of the characters in that story seemed to be looking for a connection. Even though they were best friends, it seemed that they did not know each other because they were afraid to open up. Also in “A & P,” the main character, Sammy, seemed to be struggling with a connection with his emotions and in trying to do the right thing.

      1. So it seems as if the two of you are talking about the common experience people have in these stories of connection with others. A theme would be a comment on that connection. Such as, it is difficult for people to connect with each other because… Or it is important for people to connect with each other because…

  10. In the beginning of the story the theme is about three friends going hunting, although Kenny and Frank are more bullies toward Tub then friends. Another theme is that the three of them are using hunting to get away from their normal everyday lives, such as their wives, work, and children. The overall major theme of the story comes to fruition when Kenny starts saying that he hates things and shoots them, first the fence post, then the tree, and finally the barking dog. When Kenny says he hates Tub, Tub reacts and shoots Kenny in the stomach. From then on the theme is about friendship and opening up. Frank and Tub share intimate information about their lives that they haven’t told anyone else. Through turmoil creates strong friendships.

    1. Look at the way you are saying the story changes from going out on an escape to the bonding that follows after tragedy. Tying those two to each other through some kind of opinion on how one gets from A to B, or having a stance toward that action, or having position about how it happens, those things would give you theme.

  11. I find it very interesting that many of my fellow students found the theme of the story, A&P, through the group of girls. I, however, collected my queues to the theme through the narrator, Sammy. To me, the theme is adolescence. The way he describes the girls, his surroundings, his interactions with the customer and his boss screams to me, “child-like”. His innocence in the beginning when he first laid eyes on Queenie or when he stood up for himself and stated, “Fiddle-de-do” make me see his world through the eyes of a 19 year old.

    1. This story definitely seemed like looking at life through a 19 year old eyes. The girls in the story are even young, and as most of us do, push their boundaries in the “adult” world. Adolescence is a good theme for it.

      1. You make an interesting observation about the focus of the story, which can be on character–the girls–and point of view–Sammy. It’s interesting then to imagine the scene if it were written from one of the girl’s points of view. Adolescence is not in itself a theme. A comment on adolescence or an insight into adolescence would be a theme.

  12. In Geralod No Last Name, I think the theme was death. We don’t know what happened to Geraldo, Marin didn’t know but for some reason, the story almost questions why she would say “he was someone she danced with” over and over again. Maybe Marin killed him and we are to question how. One other story that has death as a theme is “A Good Man is Hard To Find” where a family from Georgia has an unfortunate run in with a serial killer. Unlike Geraldo, we know what happens to this family and the aftermath. Maybe Geraldo didn’t die but dissapeared and his family would never see him again. but same with the other family because no one knows what happened to them until it was too late.

    1. If you reread the story, it says in the beginning that he did die from a hit and run accident. I do agree though that it is strange to have Marin repeating that all that happened was that she danced with him. Maybe she was a little to drunk and is the one that hit him, but doesn’t remember due to a blackout.

      1. I like how both of you are speculating here. Keep asking these questions. The repetition about the dance can have many different explanations. Notice what effect these different explanations have on the meaning of the rest of the story. What does this uncertainty and repetition say about death? That would be a theme.

  13. I am fascinated with the story “Geraldo No Last Name”! The haunting way it is written just adds to the mystery of the way Geraldo disappeared. The definition of a theme, to me, is the main point or impact you get out of a story. The author, Sandra Cisneros, wrote the story: choppy and short sentences and little punctuation. This gives me, as the reader, an insight to how the girl, Marin was feeling the night of the accident. The theme of this story is shock.

    1. I also felt Cisneros’s writing style made it easy to imagine how Marin felt. In an emergency like that you would have scattered, random thoughts. You would be thinking of the worst case scenarios, like that his family wouldn’t even mourn for him or be worried about him, that they would just shrug. She hasn’t had time to process the events and I sensed that she felt very guilty. She was disgusted with everyone else in the story: the driver who hit him then drove away, the surgeon who never showed up, the intern who was there alone and wasn’t competent enough to help him, the police, and his imaginary family who would also dismiss his absence without a second thought. I think she was also disgusted with herself for not knowing his last name or being able to help. Everyone else treated him like he wasn’t even a person and dismissed him, and maybe she realized she hadn’t treated him well either.

    2. I can to totally see the theme in this short story being shock. Marin having to be the last one to meet Geraldo and then hearing about his death and being questioned about it is a big shock. The author did a good job of writing her piece to make the readers know how Marin may have felt. Good observation!

      1. I really enjoyed this thread because you are focusing on the text itself, the choices the writer made in how to tell this story, and how that affects the meaning of the story. To bring all of this into a discussion about theme, you might think about how the topic you identify–shock–is handled by the writing. What do we learn about shock, the effect of shock? I wondered how you would related all of this to “Story of an Hour,” especially in terms of the writing and its effect.

  14. In “Geraldo No Last Name” the thing that caught my attention was Marin going out to all the dances. The story mentioned which dances she went to and the different styles she knows. She probably danced with a lot of random guys, many of them she may not have even known their first name, and lucky enough to get Geraldo’s. In today’s society many women can be doing this same thing and may not know the person. So the theme I chose for this story is to be aware.

  15. In the story “Geraldo No Last Name” by Sandra Cisneros, the main theme seems to be identity. Marin is confused as to why she cares about Geraldos death so much since she just met him. I believe the reason is because Geraldo has been dehumanized by not having a name, address or any kind of identification. It strikes a nerve in her because identity is what makes a person, and Geraldo is forever an unknown.

    1. Wow, that is a great theme. That would never have crossed my mind had I not read your post. You’re right that not knowing someone’s identity can strike a nerve. I think this also happens when we meet someone again that we haven’t seen in years and just can’t place how you know them, or if you really know them at all.

  16. This is a nice final post because it kind of sums up what a lot of the posts have been about: how people get to know each other, how people act toward each other, what it means to be friends, ways people care and don’t care about each other. These are all questions of identity.

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