White Angel Analysis

Topics: Michael Cunningham, Fiction, Guardian angel Pages: 3 (1092 words) Published: June 4, 2008
The story White Angel is one of a defining moment. Bobby Morrow, the focal character, remembers in great detail his life as a nine year old in the late 1960’s, and how his brother’s death changed his life completely. Bobby and his sixteen-year-old brother Carlton do everything together, and Bobby looks to Carlton as something of a guardian angel or god. In reality though, Carlton leads Bobby to a life of drugs and risk. Eventually, Carlton’s risky behavior catches up with him, and leads him to his death. In “White Angel”, author Michael Cunningham uses both irony and the repetition of symbols to show the theme of escape. Throughout the story, there are various references to music, doors, windows, planes, winged creatures, drugs, and, ultimately, Carlton’s death – all of which are forms of leaving, or escaping, the world. The first thing that comes to mind reading the story is the repeated usage of music and drugs. Since the story is set in the sixties, the music was changing – much like the attitudes and beliefs of the people. Drug use was becoming more common and accepted. Music was filled with lyrics of love, peace, and happiness. In even the second sentence, we see the significance of music as their radios “sang out love all day long” (90). As the story goes on, we learn more about how important to the story the music is. The father is a high-school music teacher and plays the clarinet in the basement, the mother sings to herself as she works in the house, and Bobby plays a harmonica. If someone in the house isn’t making their own music, they are listening to a record. Specific songs are placed strategically to aid the tone and setting of the story. The lyrics support the storyline and set the mood. People in real life use music as a distraction from their problems - it has been shown to decrease stress and calm people down. Drugs provide detachment from reality. They allow the user to feel good even in the harshest of times. This...
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