A Birthday Remembered sample essay
Love is very complicated, not just butterflies in one’s stomach, but it also involves a lot of pain. The pain is not easy to drain. We have to confront ourselves with the pain and get over it, but that’s easier said than done. We restrain our feelings and try to forget them. This only causes an even bigger pain. That is the situation for Ellen, the main character in this short story. Ellen’s love life has been complicated, she is a lesbian and obliged to listen to people’s prejudices. Her one and only love, Jackie, dies caused by an incurable illness and she is not allowed to bury her “She has not been allowed to do this one last thing for Jackie. To be with her during the last rituals.” (l.24-25). Because of Jackie’s former husband, Roger, whom she has left to live with Ellen, but he could not accept his wife being a lesbian, because of his man-stubbornness and he even tried to declare her temporarily insane (l.15). Jackie’s daughter on the other hand thinks that what Ellen and Jackie had was wonderful and beautiful, but you don’t know yet if she’s a lesbian herself or a heterosexual (l.102).
The short story is written in third-person (l. 8) “why shouldn’t she?” The narrator is not omniscient, but we have inner-angel from Aunt El since we only “hear” thoughts from her, and not from Tobie or Warrick. (line. 104) “She felt the shock of the words”. You can’t really tell if the narrator is reliable or not, since we don’t know which connection he has to any of those in the story. Neither does he try to make anyone to seem like the “bad guy”, but the narrator is making us feel sorry for Aunt El, for her big lost Jackie. (L. 24 & 89) “She hadn’t been allowed to do this one last thing for Jackie” “but we have to get used to living without loved ones”. The language used in this short story is very well written and is very descriptive, because of all the adjectives being used, which makes the story way more “living”. (l. 12) “Roger had been furious, appalled and angry..” although the story is very well written it’s also a bit harsh to understand, because of some of all these adjectives and expressions. At line 37 there might be a flashback “here’s to you, Ellen Simms, on your birthday”.
The reason that this maybe could be a flashback is firstly because of the changing of the type, at only that sentence, which might give an account of her past together with Jackie before her death. One thing that was striking me was that the story is written in the preterit, but at the same time the narrator uses direct speech, which I think is a bit odd, since you normally writes the whole story in either present or the past, and very seldom a combination of the 2 indication of times. We have two main characters in this story, who’s Aunt El and Tobie: Aunt El / Ellen Simms is an old women who lives by herself. She used to be heterosexual and lived together with a man named Roger. They had a kid together named Tobie which is 15 years old. Ellen chooses to leave Roger because she’s changing her sexuality, and becomes a lesbian and falls in love with Jackie. But unfortunately Jackie died one year from now on, which leaves her alone with Tobie, and chooses to return back to the father Roger.
Ellen is a very obliging and kind person. She really misses her old flame Jackie, and cares a lot about Tobie whether her sexuality is heterosexual or lesbian (l. 83) “suppose it had been a girl? People choose who they want.” She seems considerate, when she offers Tobie and Warrick a hot cocoa, and remembers that young’s always are hungry and decides to make them some sandwiches. Tobie is daughter of Ellem Simms and the late Jackie. She’s 15 years old, but doesn’t have an abundance of friends (l. 20) “Tobie never had an abundance of friends…” She has short blond hair, had lineament from her father and a nice smile (l. 53-55). She cares about Ellen, since she’s the only one who shows up at her birthday and brings a present, which she has been saving money, for about a week. The way she earns these money is through her job in the library (l. 68) “I’m a library page after school..” helpful is also a good word, that would describe, which you can see in the story, when she offers her help to go and make cocoa together with Ellen.
It seems she trusts Ellen more than her own father, since she decides to show Warrick for Ellen instead of her father. The message in this short story, is that pain will always be there, but only temporary, but at the same time hard to get over. That love is a big (maybe the biggest) part of our life and we should not regret, but remember the good times you’ve had with those you’ve loved. Don’t take anything in vain, live your life. And it doesn’t care if you are a heterosexual, lesbian or gay, just as long as you are happy. The title of this story is “a birthday remembered” which I guess is chosen because of all the emotional feelings that’s stepping in strength through this story and especially the quote from the daughters side “I hope it will be as wonderful and beautiful as what you and mom had together”.
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