Essay One: Final Version
How Family Folklore Alters Through Experience Over Time Elders in a family often tell youngsters stories of their past. Moreover, Steven Zeitlin, Amy Kotkin, and Holly Cutting Baker, assert in “Family Stories” that “Family stories are usually based on real incidents which become embellished over the years” (10). These stories tend to change as people age and experience various situations. Canfield’s short story “Sex Education” depicts Aunt Minnie, a woman who faced a traumatic sexual experience as a teenager, telling her story to an audience of younger generations at three different stages of her life; each account is told in a different manner as she experiences various situations that involve sexuality, namely experiences with her son Jake. Through the plot’s development of Aunt Minnie differently telling a terrifying experience thrice as time passes, and characterizing her differently, from immature to serene, as she goes through life, Canfield conveys the theme that time and experience may change one’s story.
In the opening exposition, the plot reveals Aunt Minnie’s first telling of her terrifying sexual experience as a teenager and she is characterized as young minded and frightened. Her telling of her story makes it sound like she is purely innocent and has no fault in the incident where she gets trapped in the cornfields, and in her opinion, is almost assaulted by many men, and after turning to Minister Fairchild, the minister as well, as she tells, “[h]e grabbed hold of me –that dreadful face of his was right on mine- and began clawing the clothes off my back” (785). She is characterized as frightened and/or trying to frighten her audience, as she is shown to have “become strangely agitated. Her hands were shaking, her face was crimson. She frightened us” (785). Through descriptions of her telling the story, it is apparent that she is embarrassed, traumatized, and insecure.
During her second telling of her story, which serves
Bibliography: Canfield, Dorothy. "Sex Education." A Treasury of Short Stories. Ed. Bemardine Kielty. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1947. Zeitlin, Steven J., Amy J. Kotkin, and Holly Cutting Baker. "Family Stories." A Celebration of American Family Folklore. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982.