February 23, 2013
Bullet in the Brain
The short story “Bullet in the Brain” is a story about a character with a very distinct persona. The main character, Anders, is one who is established as being an odd character from the very beginning. The setting takes place in a bank that is soon to be bombarded by robbers wearing ski masks. Being a book critic, Anders lets his profession override his critical thinking skills during the robbery. This puts the bank robber’s patience to test, ultimately leading to Anders’ death at the end of the story. In the opening paragraph of the story, the author begins by explaining Anders’ character as “a book critic known for the weary, elegant savagery with which he dispatched almost everything he reviewed” (542). The author begins by telling us this so we can get a grasp on what kind of personality traits the character has. This is a guarantee that everything coming out of Anders’ mouth will be something critical, which helps put us in the mindset for what is to come. Examining Anders’ critical personality traits, the way he interacts with others, and even his dying thoughts, we can begin to understand why his profession of being a book critic has put such a burden upon his life, ultimately placing him on the receiving end of a bullet in the brain. Taking a look at some of Anders’ mannerisms, we can see how he takes his occupation of being a book critic and lets it overtake his daily living. Take, for instance, the scene when one of the tellers puts her “POSITION CLOSED” sign in her window. Anders sarcastically says to the ladies in line “Tragic, really. If they’re not chopping off the wrong leg, or bombing your ancestral village, they’re closing their positions” (542). This looks as if it was torn from a scene right out of a movie or a book, because what does closing your bank station a few minutes early have to do with such dramatic instances as Anders mentions above? If I were one of the two ladies...