A New Kind of Gravity
Andrew Foster Altschul
Charlie, the narrator in the short story “A New Kind of Gravity,” by Andrew Foster Altschul, is one of the armed security guards at Skyer Safe House, a safe house for women and children with abusive husbands and fathers. Surprisingly, Charlie takes his job as a security guard very seriously and wishes he could do more for the residents due to his old fiancée, who was abused by her ex-boyfriend. This engages Charlie emotionally to the patients. His heart breaks every time a husband comes to pick up his wife and kids from the shelter, knowing that they will return usually with recent marks providing that the household never really changed. Andrew Atlschul’s “A New Kind of Gravity” uses symbolism, flashback, and setting to portray and embedded meaning to his short story. Altschul’s use of setting is impeccable because he portrays characters through places and set the mood instantly. “A New Kind of Gravity” opens up with an eerie setting at Charlie’s job. Altschul describes an ally where he and his colleague smoke cigarettes at night and watch patients on monitors. The author portrays an ominous scene when he describes the ally, he says “if she looked back at the nights security tapes, saw the steel door propped open with a brick, the two of us leaning against the outside wall like we were on school recess – she’d have no choice, everyone knows that. (Page 368).” At this point the reader doesn’t know what is going to happen, however he pulls the reader into the story more because the reader is curious. Through symbolism, Altschul portrays a different perspective about the Skyer House and also gives a hint about Charlie’s lifestyle. His use of symbolism is subtle, but it draws attention to the underlying meaning of this short story. For example, from the passage above, the steel door propped open by a brick represents the caged life that the abused women are living in while Charlie represents the brick because he is...
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