Analysis of Insignificant Gestures

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Section B
Insignificant Gestures

The short story deals with the aspects of life when you are terrorized by a foreign memory. It is written in 2007 by Jo Cannon.

The short story is told by a doctor and psychiatrist looking back at his time in Africa. He had a young girl named Celia as a servant, who he developed a close bond to, during his time in Africa. One day, she was found bruised and dying. Later it was discovered that she died of meningitis. The doctor is now haunted by the memory of her death, especially because he deeply regrets not saving her. The narrator remains unnamed throughout the short story. He claims that he was 28 when he was in Africa, and several times afterwards tells that it has been 10 since he has been there, “I haven't drawn anything for ten years”. So the narrator is most likely in his late thirties. The narrator states several times that he is not the same man today as he was in Africa, “I barely recognize the man I was then. A thin strand of consciousness is all that connects us”. In Africa, he often made creative drawings to let his mind wander. In this way, he can use his creativity to mentally escape from his sometimes depressing job in Africa. Celia’s death has affected him a lot since his time in Africa. He hasn't been drawing, because he is afraid of what he might think, “I don’t like the places my thoughts go when set free”. The mentioned “places” must be Celia, as he in the beginning states that her face is the one image that makes sense of life, “Her face has been with me every day for ten years”. He has retrained as a psychiatrist, as he appears to be traumatized by his time as a doctor in Africa. He reveals that he is on strong medications to even sleep, although he is still haunted by his memories at night, “Even now, when a passing car lights up my wall I jerk awake with hot rivulets of anxiety running through my limbs”. He is aware that the incident in Africa has damaged him, as seen when he compares himself to...
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