Fiction and Post-modernism

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Post-Modernism is similar to Modernism because in many respects the two movements are similar. Post-Modernism simply means that a new generation concluded, as its elders had done, that there are no certainties and that life has no meaning beyond what we can impose upon it. It is in technique that Post-Modernism distinguishes itself from Modernism and it started in Europe and Latin American in 1945 and in North America in 1960. In Post-Modernism, there was a notion that it was absurd that literature could see life steadily and see it whole. Instead, fragments, individual perceptions, incoherence and even drug-induced hallucinations seemed more real and in touch with the times than any claim of stability or unity. The stories I will be looking further in to, to see how they represent Post-Modernism, are: “The Babysitter,” by Robert Coover, “The Balloon,” by Donald Barthelme, and “Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot,” by Robert Olen Butler, Jr.

“The Babysitter” is a fragmented story about a babysitter taking care of two children while their parents attend a cocktail party. The story has many elements of sexuality in it and the same storyline included different endings, such as the babysitting being raped by her boyfriend and his friend, the children’s father seducing the babysitter, and even the possibility of the young child drowning in the bathtub. The babysitter is watching television shows and switches back between a drama and a mystery, and this mirrors the fragmented situation that is given to the reader. This story represents Post-Modernism because Post-Modernism does not look for a unified sense of self in the individual; like the world the individual is a random collection or collage of miscellaneous pieces of the external culture. In this story, the reader can be very confused as to what is truly happening. Did she actually get raped by her boyfriend and his friend? Or did she get seduced by the children’s father? At the end of the story, we...
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