Heaven in Hell

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Heaven in Hell

Neil Bissoondath’s “There Are A Lot Of Ways To Die” is the story of a man named Joseph Heaven who has become disillusioned about his homeland. Joseph had grown up on a Caribbean island and later moved to Toronto with his wife. After some years in Toronto they moved back to the island. However, now that Joseph has settled back in he realizes that the island is not how he had remembered it. The story takes place in one day as Joseph wanders around the island thinking about various moments from childhood and memories from his time in Toronto. At the end of the story Joseph makes an impulsive decision to leave the island. The author makes this decision seem plausible by using several different elements. Joseph’s day on the island could be described as an odyssey through hell. The island is hot, wet, and sticky and everywhere Joseph goes seems to be dark, grey and filled with despair. The island has turned into a hellhole where crime has become common, “not a week went by without a robbery in the area.” Also, dogs lying dead in the street have become a “common sight.” The other characters in the story are both snobbish and sneering like his wife and her friends or they are drained of life like his old friend Frankie, “It was the voice of a depleted man.” By the end of the story Joseph has two choices: stay on the island that has become his own personal hell or leave the island where he might be able to regain some happiness. By the end of the story the reader has no choice but to believe that a man in Joseph’s position would make the decision to leave. The first element the author uses to show the plausibility of this decision is to give the reader a real sense of Joseph’s emotional landscape. The author is able to convince the reader of the misery Joseph feels on the island by his descriptions of setting and weather. The story starts off with the words “It was still drizzling” and the droplets of water are later described as “warm...
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