Penmanship

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Yet Penmanship delights in challenging this notion of the old as decaying and useless. Indeed, throughout the short story the old is constantly rejuvenated by the new. Seeming anachronisms are given a new life by the actions of the present. Inheritance is the best example of the invigoration of the old by the new. As such, the penman receives the fountain pen, a heirloom, and gives it utility, a purpose in the age of typewriters and computers. The repair shop for old pens on Escolta is "now run by a Chinese woman who inherited the place from her father." Nora's arrival, someone who is nearly half his age, brings to fruition an unexpected event, "the penman fell in love again." It is through this new woman that a life of drudgery and solitude may be changed, that hope is born again, "I haven't had a chance to be, he thought, not for so long."

Neither is the relationship parasitic in nature. At times the old is essential in constructing the new. The penman, though advancing in years, is not a silent witness to the issues of his time. He writes numerous letters to various editors, proposing different solutions to a myriad of problems. That these suggestions are never enacted, merely "printed now and then in severely truncated form", does not detract from the penman's desire to contribute to his present, "it pleased him to flex his hand and to leave a records". Central to the short story is the penman's quaint, almost archaic skill, with an equally old instrument, the fountain pen. It is this oddity that eventually draws Nora, many years his junior, to him. In the penman and his skill, she finds a way to lay to rest her own troubled past. With the help of the old, she can begin anew.
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