The shortstory is the story of a woman who loses her big brother, Terry, to sickness at a very young age. It is also a story about how her brother and she used to play with the other children who lived close by, and how they stopped playing after Terry died. The main character also describes how she tries to protect her children from this awful phenomenon that death is, but how she is unable to do so as her son’s friend dies in the end. The main character who acts as a past tense narrator, does not tell much about herself.
To be clear she does not describe many of the characters at all. The fact that there are very few adjectives and adverbs shows the reader that one must use ones imagination, the characters are not important for they could be anyone in such a neighborhood. The reader relates to the story in a different way than they normally would, because they have to use their own experiences to fill out the missing pieces of the personalities of the characters. The person the narrator tells about the most, is Terry or Terrance as he is actually called.
The narrator describes how he plays Anne Boleyn with much character and liveliness. Page 2, line 6-9 “(…) was undoubtedly the most convincing. Once, he stole a dress from our mother’s closet – a red-and-white Diane von Furstenberg wraparound so he could use the beltlike part to hold the couch-pillow baby, the future Queen Elizabeth, in place. ‘Oh, Hal,’ he cooed. ” He is a happy boy and has no worries, until he gets sick. This turns his life upside down and it changes him, which one could imagine is only natural for a child when it gets sick.
Page 4, line 103-104 “He stopped being the boy who would throw himself into anything that seemed like fun. ” The narrator loves seeing her brother play Anne Boleyn, she thinks he is very convincing in the role. Page 2, line 12 “It was worth giving up the role yourself just to watch Terry give it his all. ” The fact that it is Terry that is often chosen to play Anne Boleyn, even though they all want to play her, could be a symbol of fate choosing him to get sick and die. It might as well have been one of the other kids, as well as it could have been one of the other kids who could have played the role.
This is shown in the part of the story where Anne Boleyn dies, and Terry has to play the dying woman. Page 4, line 99-101 “And Terry would hold his face in both hands, his shoulders heaving in enormous, racking, make-believe sobs. But in real life, it was all silent hours. Vacant stares. ” The game of playing Anne Boleyn could also be a symbol of the children losing something. Anne Boleyn loses her head and life, Terry loses his life and the narrator loses her brother, her friends and a part of her childhood.
At this point it is only the first part of the rhyme that is used. Page 3, line 43 “Divorced, beheaded, died. ” But as the children move on with their lives, learn to live with the loss of a friend and a brother, and some of them meet again even though they do not talk, the rest of the rhyme appears in their life. And this time it holds a whole new meaning. Page 6, line 174 “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. ” The structure of the text is a bit messy but it still manages to give the reader a good and continuous view of the narrator’s life.
The fact that the first 1,5 pages focuses on her childhood with the games and her brother, gives the reader a strong sense that it is a chapter of her life that ended when her brother died. But as she continuously mentions her brother, one also understands that her brother is still with her, even though he belongs to an ended chapter. And as she moves on with her life, and survives, she keeps him with her in a more secure way and without getting scared of forgetting about him.
Page 5, line 153-156 “the truth is sometimes even more than a day goes by before I remember to think of my brother (…) Maybe it’s a gift to be able to let go of remembering. Some times. Some things. ” The narrator tells us about her family and how her son loses his friend in the end of the text, this is a way to tell the reader that it can happen to anyone, and that it is possible to move on. It is possible to survive the death of someone dear. But never to forget it, a person lost will always be remembered one way or another, intentionally or not.