“Bittersweet”: A Summary/Central/Character/Conflict/P.O.V./ Setting/Language/Tone Analysis in Alice Walker’s “To Hell With Dying”
Alice Walker’s “To Hell With Dying” is a short story about the close encounters the protagonist, Mr. Sweet, faces with death and the impact he leaves on the friends that love him unconditionally. Mr. Sweet is a diabetic, alcoholic guitar player that lives down the road from the narrator and her family. He is dearly loved by the family and regularly comes to visit and play his guitar. The narrator and Mr. Sweet have a special bond of mutual admiration. Mr. Sweet often has what they refer to as his “revivals” where he comes close to death but the narrator miraculous saves him time after time by kissing and tickling him. When the narrator moves away to study at a university, she gets a call to come home to revive Mr. Sweet once again. She rushes home right away, although this time she is unable to save him. Her father gives her Mr. Sweet’s guitar that Mr. Sweet wanted her to have. She believes that she has failed because she is unable to save him and that his death is her fault. The narrator concludes the story with the realization that Mr. Sweet was her first love. The author suggests that death can only be prolonged for so long, and that sometimes it is hard to accept the fact that every life must one day come to an end. Mr. Sweet is an eternal character that can be seen as compassionate, sweet, and playful. It’s no coincidence that the author chose his name to be “Mr. Sweet” to characterize his sweet nature. The narrator describes Mr. Sweet in that “toward all of us children he was very kind, and had the grace to be shy with us, which is unusual in grown-ups”. His playful nature made him an ideal playmate for the kids. The narrator describes “his ability to be drunk and sober at the same time made him an ideal playmate, for he was as weak as we were and we could usually best him in wrestling, all the while...
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