I would like to discuss two different stories in this paper. The focus of my discussion will be grief, because it is necessary to compare the interpretation of grief in the short stories of my analysis. Two stories of my discussion will be “Killings” written by Andre Dubus and “By and By” written by Amy Bloom.
First of all it is necessary to mention that both stories are about the psychology of feelings and human relations, about the motivation of deeds, about love and sacrifice, about the relationship between morality and law, justice and retribution, duty and atonement. I would like to mention that grief is a strong feeling that has many manifestations and interpretations, but in all cases grief is connected with great pain and sufferings.
Comparing two stories we see that main characters’ grief is connected with death, because in the story “Killings” loving parents lost their son and in the story “By and By” we see the death of young lady who only began her life. Both deaths were unreasonable and young people went away from this world in time when they have brilliant future perspectives to stay and be happy. I agree with Amy Bloom’s words that were stated in the beginning of her story: “Every death is violent.” Yes, we could see violence in every death and moreover, this violence is clearly become apparent exactly in situation when people were killed.
Thinking about two stories we should pay our attention on several moments in their authors’ descriptions. Andre Dubus shows us situation of one concrete family, where parents were suffering after their son death and in this situation will be good to use Leo Tolstoy’s quotation “All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. In our situation we see not only unhappiness, but big grief of parent, who don’t know how to continue their life, how to be together and save their family relationships, because Matt and Ruth, living in perfect harmony, now are looking for those who are responsible for their trouble, unfortunately, blaming each other. It seems that Ruth died together with her son, because she lost the sense of life and interest to it. Matt is trying to help his wife and somehow to stir up her, but he is also distraught and depressed with his son death, do not knowing what to do with own feelings and emotions. Amy Bloom, in her turn, describes the death of young girl Anne and it is really hard to read how one person could kill another and read about the pain of relatives and friends. We see many situations when the main character (Anne’s roommate) bounced her feelings and emotions off Mrs. Warburg, because they were both grieving and feeling loss in their own way.
In both stories we see one line of unspeakable pain, because when something had happen it is impossible to say that all will be alright. In the mind of man there is a feeling of unreality, emotional numbness, insensitivity and obnubilation. There are many situations in both stories when we observed dulled perception of external reality, thoughts about the meaning of life and way how people go away from this world. It seems to me that grief – it’s not just one of the feelings, it is constitutive anthropological phenomenon: neither the most sensible animal buries his fellow. That is mean that to bury – hence, to be a human. Dubus described the scene how parents buried their son and in psychological sense people try to burry themselves there too. Moreover, according to psychological researches the first strong feeling breaking through the veil of lethargy and deceptive indifference is often angry. It is unexpected, incomprehensible to the man himself, he fears that he could not restrain it and Matt was the bright example of this feeling appearance.
I think that in regard to grief Dubus and Bloom are trying to demonstrate all suffering people that to burry (in the literal and figurative sense) means not to reject memories, but to hide and save them. And on a psychological level, the principal acts of the mysteries of grief – are not energy disconnection from the lost person, but the dispensation of the image of this person to be stored in memory. Comparing two stories we see that the main idea is not only to show how people are trying to overcome own pain and grief, but also to prove that human grief is non-destructive (to forget, detach, separate), but it is constructively, it is intended not to scatter, but to gather, not to destroy, but to create – to create the memory.
Taking into consideration above stated information we could come to the conclusion that grief is a complex event affecting all aspects of life, all levels of physical, mental and social human existence. Grief is unique; it depends on the unique benefits of the relationship with it, on the specific circumstances of life and death, with all unique patterns of reciprocal plans and hopes, hurts and joys, deeds and memories. I think that both stories have the emotional depth and intensity and I like them for their true feelings and real emotions. We see people who left alone with their terrible grief and they are trying to live. Sometimes feelings and pain overflow their hearts and it seems that life is over, but they must show great courage not to drown in the bottom of sorrow, but overcome situation.