Personal History - Brooke Auchincloss

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PERSONAL HISTORY

The narrator in this story is a 1. Person narrator and the story is therefore told from the narrator’s point-of-view. An example of the first person narrative is already in the opening line: “Yes I’m from New York” I say shifting my drink to my other hand.” This in-medias-res opening throws us right into the story without telling when or where we are. It informs us that the narrator is from New York, and indicates that she isn’t there at the moment. The setting of this dialogue is probably a bar somewhere in England, seeing that she has a drink, and that the one who answers her in the end has an accent that “reeks of Cambridge.” Because the narrator is not in her hometown, the interior monologue following the answer to the strangers question is almost nostalgic. She is thinking about the entire story of her family coming to America and reminiscing about her annual trips. “When New York is white and red and green. I sit in the window of my sister’s apartment watching the snow.” If the narrator had been in New York at the time, she would not have been evoking all these memories. So I presume this dialogue takes place in England.

Seeing that the author Brooke Auchincloss was born in New York and moved to England in 1983, the monologue is probably meant to be understood as a small autobiography and a tribute to her hometown. It is, of course, going on in New York. The story spans over the entire 20’th century and is a story about the author’s family and their fancy life of wealth in The Big Apple. But when reading about the family and their doings, I found that all the members of the family only did things on their own. The narrator doesn’t tell about the couples doing anything together. “In the morning my great grandfather would walk to the corner,” “My great grandmother would have been driven from the ship,” “One night my grandfather helped wheel the spirit of St. Louis through the sleeping streets.” There are no descriptions of the couples...
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