“to Hell with Dying” Written by Alice Walker

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In the short story, “To Hell with Dying” written by Alice Walker, Mr. Sweet is a sick old man whose multiple ailments bring him often to the brink of death; the narrator’s father and the children would call him back from his deathlike state by calling “To hell with dying, man!” (Walker 1127), and surrounding him with affection. The “resurrections” in which the children participate hide from them the reality that death is permanent. Finally, when the narrator is away at college, Mr. Sweet gets sick again, and this time no one can call him back. After his death, the family celebrates him, and the narrator accepts the gift of Mr. Sweet’s guitar, which she plays in his memory. The central idea of “To Hell with Dying,” is death is inevitable, it comes to everyone. The main character, the narrator, is described in the story to look like a baby monkey when she was a child. For example, “… around my hairline, which was rather low down, nearly to my eyebrows, and made some people say I looked like a baby monkey.” (1129). This shows that the narrator a unique hairline that resembled a monkey and other people noticed it. When Mr. Sweet is nearing death, the narrator is awakened in the middle of the night because she can bring him back with her love and affection. For instance, “For soon after we had gone to bed one of the neighbors knocked on our door and called my father and said that Mr. Sweet was sinking fast…” (1128), and, “I was very good at bringing him around, for as soon as I saw he was struggling to open his eyes I knew he was going to be all right, and so could finish my revival sure of success.” (1129). This shows that the narrator has always been helpful. The narrator thinks that if she continues to help Mr. Sweet come back from dying, he’ll always be okay. For example, “It did not occur to us that we were doing anything special; we had not learned that death was final when it did come.” (1129). This proves that the narrator didn’t understand what death really...
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