…Divorced, Beheaded, Survived
Losing a loved one is something most people have tried. It could have been a grandparent, a mother, a father or even both of them. And no matter who it is, it always hurts more than anything else. But the memory they leave behind is the something we always keep with us. It can make us happy or sad at times. It reminds us to live our lives and it reminds us that we are and have to be the survivor. The text is a short story written in a unique and curious setting, allowing you to see the world of an ordinary family whose lives have been affected by the deaths of the friends and family. The story grasps some of the problems that death can bring upon a family. I will analyze and interpret Robin Black’s short story about the unnamed narrator and how the impact of her younger days has affected her and her life. The story is based upon her brother’s death and the acts they played with their friends shortly before. The story’s structure is quite flowing, but jumps back and forth in time. It takes place over roughly 30 years, but the reader does not have trouble keeping track of the time, because of the markings of each section. Even though the tragic events of her brother’s death thirty years ealier sill affect the narrator, the writer does not use a climax in the story. The writer and the narrator are just stating what has happened to her brother, what has been the affect of her brother’s death and how her life has been since he died. But Terry’s death did not just affect the narrator, his sister, but also their mutual friends. By using the last sentence in the story “ “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” Miss Rafferty wrote the rhyme out on the board while Molly Denham and I dutifully copied it into our notebooks, as though we might otherwise forget.” (p. 5, l. 174-176), Robin Black is showing how they both pretend not knowing about King Henry VIII and how it is an attempt to avoid being reminded of the heartbreaking death of Terry years before. In this short story the writer deals with different kinds of grief in dealing with death. They are set up as themes: how to deal with death, how it affects us and how to move on, including death at a young age. The dealing with death is quite different in reality than in role-play. “And Terry would hold his face in both his hands, his shoulders heaving in enormous, racking, make-believe sobs. But in real life, it was all silent hours. Vacant stares.” (p. 4, l. 99-101) The mood around Terry is now full of silence, while in role play they symbolized death with tears and sobs. Death was a game, but it changes as soon as Terry gets sick. Because Sarah has experienced grief in dealing with her brother’s death, she has the ability to help her son in dealing with the death of his good friend, Pete. With the affect death has on people, Sarah is a person who it affected very much, but strongest in her young years. After her brother’s death all of their mutual friends drifted apart. Later in life, when Sarah’s son Mark is old enough, she decided it was time to put Terry’s picture away. It had been with her through her entire life, but because the lines between her own son and Terry were too easily drawn, she decided it was time. The impact death had on Sarah and her friends shows how people can be torn apart by it, but it also shows how it can bring people closer to each, for example when Sarah helps her son Mark with the death of his friend. The way that Sarah does not think of Terry every day and putting away his picture, shows she is moving on and living her life. She does not dwell in the sorrow of losing Terry, but gets a life of her own. Sarah is about 40 years old, which means her parents were either 35 or 40 years old when they had her. That shows they took a long education and did not have children until they were settled and had jobs. You can also read that in the text where Sarah talks about what her father does. “By that spring, when he was eleven, he knew for sure that he wanted to be a history professor, like my father.” (p. 2, l. 31-32) It seems to me that Sarah has chosen a different way of life. She is about 40 years old, as said before, and she has a son at the age of 16, which means she probably had him at the age of 23 or 24. That shows she became a mother at a very young age, different from her parents. It also does not say in the text if she took an education other than High School, which makes me think she is a stay at home mom. In that way her life is very different from her parents. The text is a sad story about a normal family who deals with grief. But what makes it interesting is the tale about Henry VIII and his six wives and how Robin Black uses it to describe different kinds of grief. She compares the role play and the deaths in real world with each other. Then she finds the similarities and differences between the two and makes a short story out of it. It is a good way to show the difference between real life and fiction and
how people react differently towards sorrow, grief and death.