February 14, 2013
Three Things to Notice about George Saunders’ “Adams”
* The first thing to notice about George Saunders’ story “Adams” is the complete lack of normal, back-and-forth dialogue between the characters. Everything any character says to another is summarized by the narrator, Roger, eliminating a standard dialogue structure. This lack of dialogue distances the reader from the events since it also eliminates much of the emotion one can normally read from how characters say their parts. Specifically, in the part where Roger goes to Adams’ house and begins “wonking” him, all or the exchanges between the characters end with “he said” or “I said” with no real format and no other descriptive adjectives or verbs, such as “angrily” or “yelled” (p. 102). The lack or dialogue and descriptors distance the reader from the events because it feels as though Roger distances himself from the events, not recalling any described emotion to the scene. Furthermore, the lack of formal quotation marks indicating dialogue and the lack of more descriptive tones of voice allows for the feeling that Roger does not remember exactly what he and Adams said to each other in full, nor what anyone else said to them. It creates the feeling that Roger is twisting his story to make his actions sound justified by only vaguely recalling anything any other characters, or he himself, say. Formal dialogue gives more validity to a story. It indicates that the narrator knows exactly what the other characters said, how they said it, and why it mattered. However, when Roger describes Adams’ kids coming in to see Roger beating their father, he says they called out to him “all dramatic,” which gives the reader the feeling that Roger is simply trying to justify his actions by saying the kids were being dramatic and that what he was doing really was not that bad (p. 103). The lack of structured, definitive dialogue takes the reader...