Sea Oak Response – 10am only

In the “leave a reply” comment box, post a 500 word reading response to Sea Oak by 12:00pm MST Friday 2.4.11. Identify any element(s) of the reading you’d like ( don’t tell, setting, feminism, poverty etc.) describe it, then analyze it.

This is of course to make up for the lost discussion from today.

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14 Responses to Sea Oak Response – 10am only

  1. Sarah says:

    Hey, could you take this down so my students don’t use it to plagiarize?

  2. William Dufficy says:

    Just realized 12pm MST is in the afternoon, and does not follow 11:59pm MST… sorry, hope this is still okay.

    This is the kind of story that could very easily have become a wacky anecdote, but Saunders avoids this by expertly balancing humor and storytelling. For example, rather than simply having his narrator tell us that he works at a strip club (“I am a male stripper,” or something like that), he gradually draws us into that realization with an in medias res recounting of a few minutes there. I may just be slow on the uptake, but until the ladies start sticking money into somebody’s pants I thought he might have actually been a pilot—my expectations were subverted, which is always more entertaining than simply being told something shocking.
    Even more important to the success of the story is Saunders’ tempering of the easy laughs to be had from Jade and Min’s abrasive Jersey—I think Jersey, anyway—accents with the narrator’s more measured tone. Had he spoken the way his family does, the story might have descended into farce; maybe its just me but it would have been hard to have too much sympathy for his character had he been as plainly unpleasant to read to as they are. That being said, while at first the women’s accents were a turn-off for me, as I grew accustomed to them they became an effective way to relate to the socioeconomic status of the family. Along those same lines, the narrator’s comparative well-manneredness and intelligence—evidenced largely by the way his internal monologue reads and acknowledged only once, by the undead Bernie—did a good job of conveying the injustice of the family’s poverty. These people aren’t inherently stupid, unpleasant and lazy, as Jade and Min seem to be at the story’s beginning, they have simply been dealt a bad hand in life.
    This brings me to another point about the story I thought was impressive: the character of Bernie. Her night and day change from a sweet doormat into a rotting, screaming, swearing ghoul made the undead Bernie more than just a surreal turn of events. Her animated body was clearly not Bernie at all, but rather pure, unfiltered reaction to the massive injustice of her life, and by extension the lives of the kinds of people who live in places like Sea Oak. Bernie allows the story to be about inequality as a loud, living, stinking, abusive force of nature emanating from the bad neighborhoods of the world.
    This was a funny story, filled to the brim with hilarious details (“How My Child Died Violently” and “Why Does My Loved One Appear Somewhat Larger?” were my favorites), but Saunders, through characterization and storytelling, infused it with an undercurrent of pathos that makes it more than that.

  3. Dylan says:

    I’m slightly ambiguous as to what is per say showing and telling, but I feel the best writing has a fine juxtaposition between the two, so as to engage the readers and give them breathing room at the same time—and create dialogue/a story line that naturally streams across the page. Sea Oak certainly is able to do this, and its foundation is a concrete, interesting story, told from a first-person narrative about a man who half-prostitutes himself to make barely enough money for the living purposes of his sister, cousin, aunt, and baby nephews. The narrator uses particular details and dialogue to ‘show’ such as when discussing the shooting Aunt Bernie says, “Actually you know what?” says Aunt Bernie. “I think that looks even more like a real duck now Because some-times their beaks are cracked? I seen one like that down-town.”
    The success of this story—success could be argued, but assuming its success—comes from a form of spontaneity that creates wild actions that reach a level of the absurd. In the first line, we are almost uncertain if we’re reading about flight pilots…taking their shirts off, until it dawns that “Joysticks” is a man-whore club. So we have no idea where the story is going, when we show up at Sea Oak apartments and meet the family, and is this story a sad comedy? Tension builds after a shooting—the particular observation of the duck nose mentioned above—and it leads to the shocking death of Aunt Bernie, who died pathetic and without any accomplishments in life—and is this story a tragedy? And now the spontaneity of the absurd, when Aunt Bernie is missing from the grave to be found again in Sea Oak Apartments, body parts falling off of her yet with magical mind powers. So what is going on? Well, that seems the whole point, nobody really knows what’s going on, or really has any power in the end, as is affirmed by Bernie’s last line and the narrator’s response;
    “Some people get everything and I got nothing,” she says. “Why? Why did that happen?”

    Every time I say I don’t know.

    And I don’t.”
    It becomes a sordid and cheerless comic tragedy, where Bernie with her superpowers predicts Troy’s death in a shooting crossfire, and of course there is nothing to be done, though the narrator tries, so hard indeed to make enough money to get them to Canada.
    As to its success—or what enlightenment or simple joy and pleasure one gets from reading it—I would not recommend it.

  4. Mark Shin says:

    I wonder what happens if I mess with the html coding

    I had mixed feelings after reading George Saunders’s Sea Oak excerpt. While some of the aspects were very odd and had a slight sense of inappropriateness, I would like to acknowledge that Saunders did a fine job in entailing diversity within his writing. One of the apparent techniques that really struck out to me was the brief, yet effective sentences. Some examples include “Fifth and Rivera. Dress up when you go. Wear something nice. Show a little leg. And don’t chomp your gum. Ask for Len.” and ” That’s part one of Phase One. You, Min. You baby-sit. Plus you quit smoking. Plus you learn how to cook. No more food out of cans. We gotta eat right to look our best.” A very unique attribute of Sea Oak was the somewhat shocking but nevertheless, creative diction. In most creative writing pieces, I rarely witness the exchange of swear words among the characters; reading this piece undoubtedly surprised me mildly and the intensity of the tone established by such vulgarity. Yet, I felt that the vulgarity allowed the conversations to move much more casually, and added fludity to the dialogue, consequently progressing the verbal exchanges. Certainly, the somewhat unconvenential choice of words helped distinguish this excerpt from many others I’ve read before and gave me a sense of a more “realistic” picture view of the plot.

    The excerpt as I implied, grew much more ridiculous as the story progressed. The beginning of the story already contains content that may perplex the reader. It makes the reader wonder what’s actually going on in the story and draws her/him more and more in. The introduction then transitions into the exposition rather smoothly, as the narrator attempts to explain what’s going on. While there was only a slight hint of the story’s weirdness, it becomes much more evident when the narrator describes the characters. (“They debate how many sides a triangle has. They agree that Churchill was in opera. Matt Merton comes back and explains that last week’s show on suicide, in which the parents watched a reenactment of their son’s suicide, was a healing process for the parents, then shows a video of the parents admitting it was a healing process.”) The story rises to its peak in terms of “weirdness” when sexual references are made. While sexual topics generally raise awkwardness, they only heightened the casual qualities of the characters’ interactions and added on to the ridicule of the story.

    Lastly, I would have to applaud Saunders’s depiction of Aunt Bernie. There were just so much about her that made her stand out arguably more than any others. She clearly exemplified a dynamic character in an odd, unique way. Initially, she is portrayed as a positive character, showing optimism but perhaps a little too much, hinting that’s she’s naive. All of a sudden, she’s literally a “zombie gone back to life”, but now hostile and fierce than ever. She shows signs of remorse and regret at her past life and implies she doesn’t want the family to suffer the same ordeal.

  5. Emily Wilkinson says:

    I see why this story is so revered, it is a fabulous and unexpected read. Sea Oak was very enjoyable to read because of the characters. They are all people you would never expect to connect to, seeing as not many of us live in a world full of gun shots and male strippers, but the message that is being conveyed seems to get across crystal clear anyway. First and foremost there is Bernie. A kind older woman, she is blissfully ignorant to the impoverished world she has been stuck in for the past sixty some years. She is what some people would consider to be beyond optimistic and somewhat blind. Then you find the two younger women Min and Jade. Both are the stereotypical sassy black woman who you can only imagine slurring insults at each other and those who cross their paths. They also have their children which are only a speck amongst the muck in the story. Then finally there is the main character, from who’s point of view the story is told. He is a male stripper who is constantly being told to “pull his cock out” while he tries to support his family. These characters are so incredibly fair out from anything any of us would understand that it becomes somewhat comical. Their speech is what drives the story and the vibe that can be felt throughout. The speech is most important with Bernie. She goes from being such a soft spoken and loving individual to this zombie walking the earth with a new found attitude. The story only further progresses as she beings to fall apart and becomes more aggressive with every lost body part until finally she is pieces on the floor. In that last moment you can find the moral of the story which has been hidden deep within a pile of incongruent tales.

  6. Dan Allred says:

    It didn’t take much reading for me to discover that Sea Oak was a fairly unique and vulgar piece. The exposition immediately paints a setting of degradation and nervous fears in the eyes of superficial judges. The first major theme I noticed it stereotypical gender-role reversal. The protagonist is basically a male stripper, working hard all day to satisfy the desires of twisted old women. He is given a “penile simulator” to create a false aura of perfection and also maintain a professional atmosphere in the so-called “restaurant”. The customers are clearly more interested in the meat attached to the waiters than the cooked meat they deliver. He then goes home to an apartment full of vulgar outbreaks and horrible shows about babies suffering violent deaths. This brings me to the second major theme I noticed: a somewhat lack of emotion towards death. One would think that two mothers would be appalled by a show called How my Child Died Violently. As the story progresses both themes are further enforced by the character Aunt Bernie. She is the backbone of the dysfunctional family. Her years of hard work to put the bacon on the table has somewhat established her has the masculine figure in the family. The theme of nonchalance in the face of death is even more so furthered by Aunt Bernie as she dies. Although her actual death realigns his perception and distracts him from degrading himself to another woman the strange nonchalance occurs when Aunt Bernie is raised from the dead. They seem startled by it, but not quite startled enough. If the psychic zombie corps of a recently deceased family member greeted me I know I’d be a tad more frightened. To me, the zombie of Aunt Bernie is just a symbol. She is a manifestation of the protagonist’s guilt from a life of mediocrity. Perhaps if he became a lawyer in the first place and his sisters weren’t tied down by motherhood they could have lived somewhere less dangerous than Sea Oak apartments. Aunt Bernie represents them not being able to let go but at the same time conveys their desire to move forward; they want to make her years of work and sacrifice worth it. She tries to right the wrongs of the family by putting the male in his proper gender role of lawyer and the women in their roles of either seductive office worker or legitimate housewife. She also could represent the guilt they have from putting her to eternal rest in a cardboard box. As the story progresses their guilt begins to decay just as she literally begins to decay and rot to nothingness. In a symbolic sense this merely says to me that guilt and sorrow towards death cannot last. Nature will inevitably pull us all to the dusty grave and there hopefully we can remain, but possibly, the guilty minds of those we left behind will reanimate us to realign priorities and express mourning towards an empty and squandered life.

  7. Audra Figgins says:

    Audra Figgins
    Sea Oak Analysis
    George Saunders’ commentary on poverty through his story “Sea Oak” becomes alive and authentic through his believable characters, making the juxtaposition of the fantastical elements even funnier, despite the seriousness of the situation. Immediately, the readers see the neediness of the narrator and his family when he says, “(Margie) hands me an Instamatic and offers me ten bucks for a close-up of Thomas’s tush. Do I do it? Yes I do. It could be worse.” This shows how the narrator is not an assertive man, and that he has an optimistic viewpoint despite his horrible circumstances. His desire is not to be rich or even to quit stripping, he just wants everyone he cares about to be safe- saying, “If I had my way I’d move everybody up to Canada”- but he isn’t confident or forceful enough to make a change. The narrator is a realistic character because his anxieties about safety and his loved ones are humanistic qualities that, in a sense, we can all relate to. This genuine quality that Saunders brings to his characters through their dialogue, thoughts, and actions is what makes his story so exceptional. Lifelike characters that the readers believe and can relate to is what makes a great story, but writing realistic dialogue is one of the hardest parts of writing fiction. The realism that Saunders creates is disrupted by the absurd event of Aunt Bernie returning as an unpleasant zombie, falling to pieces in their living room- “She’s basically just this pile of parts: both arms in her lap, head on the arms, heel of one foot touching the heel of the other, all of it sort of wrapped up in her dress.” Adding such a fantastical element into a seemingly normal story is shocking to the reader and is quite paradoxically comical in relation to the depressing situations outlined in the story. Although her appearance gives the narrator the jolt that he needs to start doing more to make a better life for his family, his situation still seems hopeless by the end. The reader is left to make up their minds whether Bernie’s prophecy about Troy getting “caught in a crossfire in the courtyard”, comes true or if the narrator makes enough money to escape. The reader is left with a sense of hope as the narrator continues to struggle without giving up, as well as with the unanswered question that seems to haunt us all, “Why do some people get everything and I got nothing?”

  8. Katrina Menchaca says:

    “Sea Oak” doesn’t sound like a story that involves male prostitution and aunts who come back from the dead with attitude, but it’s exactly that and more. When I began to read “Sea Oak”, I couldn’t grasp where I was or what was going on. However, I believe that George Saunders made his story better by showing the details so I could figure out for myself what was going on rather than being told what was happening. Through his details, I noticed that he didn’t explain how the characters looked or act, but rather expressed them through their thoughts and actions. He, in turn, had made them more flesh and less paper. One specific quote was when the narrator was describing himself, “What a stressful workplace. The minute your Cute Rating drops you’re a goner. Guests rank us as Knockout, Honeypie, Adequate, or Stinker. Not that I’m complaining. At least I’m working. At least I’m not a Stinker like Lloyd. I’m a solid Honeypie/Adequate, heading home with forty bucks cash.”
    The financial situation of the main characters contributes to the fact of how they lived their lives thus far. The two girls in the story, Min and Jade, already have children and before they even finished High school. Saunders doesn’t have to tell us that they didn’t graduate let alone lack average intelligence because of the descriptions and dialogue we are given when they are studying for their GED. Meanwhile, Aunt Bernie had the personality of a kindred soul focusing on the positive things in her life instead of the bad. When she came back, it shocked me as a reader to see her personality warped 180 degrees! I no longer liked this Aunt Bernie. She was very crude and hostile, but then again, you can’t really blame her because she came back as a zombie. However, as twisted and warped she may have been out of her grave, she was right that they couldn’t live the way they had been living. That things needed to change in order to get better.

  9. Meagan Malcolm-Peck says:

    I really enjoyed reading Sea Oak. The story was focused around the overall lesson from Bernie that life seems like it will never end, but we have to learn that is does end, and probably will, sooner than we expect. I felt bad while reading it because she died before she had ever actually lived. The author is really trying to convey to us that we need to cherish our life, and while being a positive person is helpful, you need more than just that. I thought the story had a very valuable lesson. When we are at the end of our life and look back everyone wants to think they will have had a life full of great experiences and be content. This is not just automatically going to happen. The author uses the character of Bernie to make the point that you have to put yourself out there and try to make something of yourself. Readers learn from Bernie’s mistake that you need to live how you want to live and not be afraid to make a life for yourself no matter where you come from. The use of dialogue to build the characters was very interesting. I learned a lot about each character by how they spoke, and how they reacted to different situations. Min and Jade were revealed to not be very smart through the way they talked and interacted with each other. For example when Bernie is being very positive Jade says, “Man, what an optometrist.” She was meaning to say what an optimist, but through the use of dialogue the author shows that she is not very smart. Min also says, “Man, fuck this shit!” Jade retorts, “Freak this crap you mean. You want them growing up with shit- mouths like us? Crap-mouths I mean?” This funny exchange also serves to show the readers their lack of intelligence. This show don’t tell way of writing was awesome to read because I really was able to get a clear picture in my mind of every scene and everything that was happening. I really enjoyed the descriptions throughout the story as well. The part of the story where Bernie’s limbs start to fall off was fun to read. I thought the story was also very amusing. The inappropriateness of it was very funny at times. The paragraph that says, “He’s in charge of ensuring that our penises never show Also that we don’t kiss anyone. None of us ever kisses anyone or shows his penis except Sonny Vance, who does both… As for our Penile Stimulators, yes we can show them, we can let them stick out the top of our pants, we can even periodically dampen our tight pants with spray bottles so our Simulators really contour, but our real penises, no those have to stay inside our hot uncomfortable oversized Simulators.” This paragraph was descriptive, and very amusing. Overall I thought the way Sea Oak was written was awesome. I also appreciated lessons that I learned while reading the story.

  10. Adrian Wassel says:

    I think the element of “Sea Oak” I enjoyed most was the ambiguity. I mean this in every possible sense: the ambiguity of each character’s morals, the ambiguity of setting (time, prior events, etc.), the ambiguity as to why Bernie came back, the ambiguity as to whether they should listen to Bernie’s advice, etc. Ultimately, the story read as a very interesting (very depressing) social commentary on life in the United States and the continual rise in ignorance/stupidity through laziness and overactive breeding. In this way, the ambiguity helped to reinforce his commentary. By way of letting you fill in the gaps, George Saunders has also made it very easy for the reader to imagine the current state of affairs becoming similar to that of the story’s.
    Beneath the more obvious satirical stabs at our population’s behavior, I loved the implied truths. For instance, that this is a country where you often have to “show your cock” (whore yourself out, sell your soul, whatever maxim fits best) to make money. Or, that people with no money will spend what they have on a corpse, as if it will be glad it’s sitting in a nice box instead of cardboard.
    Also, I must say I loved the sisters. More caricatures than characters, their attitude and language were sadly believable and awfully (pun intended) funny. And, as a final note, I love how George Saunders flips gender roles, by making the protagonist a male, who must sell his body, instead of the stereotypical/cliché female in said role.

  11. Bonnie Martin says:

    Sea Oak very different from any other short story I’ve read, and for that it was at least an interesting read. The characters were depressingly real in their uneducated and poverty stricken lifestyle, which was in high contrast with the ridiculous plot line including a male stripper-pilot and a vengeful zombie. This contrast was interesting because it made the story almost believable right up until Aunt Bernie comes back from the grave. I though Aunt Bernie’s character was a very interesting way to represent the usually cliche lesson of living life to the fullest.
    High contrast within the story can also be seen in the difference between live Bernie and undead Bernie. The fact that live Bernie was loved and pitied by her family for being so nonchalant about their problems and her unfulfilling life, and then became so terrifying to them when she came back to fix her pitiful mistakes shows the conflict of pleasing others or pleasing yourself. In order to do what was best for her when alive she would have had to live much more selfishly and her family wouldn’t have found her so pleasant, but she would have been stronger and happier. Since this was not the case, she came back overly vulgar and angry, and as a result her family is horrified. This conflict is really important to the moral of the story, that Bernie should have lived more fully the first time so that she would have been remembered in a positive light, not a pile of decaying limbs.
    Saunders does a good job of throwing in little disturbing details, especially in his descriptions of Aunt Bernie’s condition. At first, Bernie is a sweet lady who thinks that, even when she gets shot at, it could be worse. That the duck baby walker looks more like a real duck when it’s beak is shot off. And then she is transformed into a monster in her second life. From the goo left on Min’s bras after Bernie forces Min to put them on her, to the pile of Bernie parts in the chair when they uncover one morning, these details make Bernie’s character uncomfortably great. Although there seems to be a lot of telling and not as much showing in these descriptions, I think that method follows the idea that the narrator is supposed to be very simple and uneducated.
    I think the story was overall well written. The plot was a blend of depressing and strange realness, with enough wit inserted at the advantage of the pathetic characters to lighten the mood. Particularly, I found the concept of Bernie fascinating and a really clever and obscene approach an otherwise preachy sounding message.

  12. eddie rodriguez says:

    I really enjoyed Sea Oak, it was very obscene. In my personal opinion
    stories that push things to far are more enjoyable to read. I particularly enjoyed when
    Bernie dies and comes back to life. She lived her life as a sweet optimistic lady (the
    way she handles situations “quotes”) and comes back from the dead as fired up hard ass who says things like “Show your cock”. In fact I got the chills when when the narrator walks in to find his aunts body on the rocking chair and then she turns her head to look at him and tells him to “Sit the fuck down”. When he sits Min starts squeezing the narrators hand. This is a good example of show don’t tell. One really can get the sense of the terror and the astonishment being felt by the characters. This is done without ever using words to describe how they feel, rather describing their actions so the reader is able to infer what is being felt rather than being told exactly what it is that is being felt. I also really enjoyed the part toward the end when the narrator has to re-bury Bernie. The monologue he has with him self is great,
    “I wonder if, other than Jesus, this has ever happened before. Maybe it happens all the time. Maybe there’s angry dead all over, hiding in rooms, covered with blankets, bossing around their scared, embarrassed relatives. Because how would we know?
       I for sure don’t plan on broadcasting this.”
    This part is so funny because it is so true. Maybe it is something that happens all the time but nobody ever wants to talk about it so no body will ever believe it.
    The character that is the narrator is very believable and likable. He is a very down to earth person and is very smart as well. He appears to be the only normal one, and such is the case many times when a story is told in the first person. First person narration is very personal.
    Overall the characters were very believable. I really enjoyed the talks between Min and Jade. They are a dynamic duo, modern day Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum. Aunt Bernie’s character, when she was alive, was avery sweet old lady who came to the end of her life and never really lived. That is she never had kids, never married etc. She was a very reserved and modest woman. This is why her resurrection is so funny because she is, for lack of a better word, a bitch. Its one thing to have her come back from the grave, but it is even more twisted when she becomes gooey and her body parts start falling off. Another example of showing and not telling is after the narrator comes back from burying Bernie and he Resolves the carpet, I can just imagine a bunch of goo being smeared all over the carpet from Bernie’s body. I think this story is twisted and hilarious.

  13. Maya McDowell says:

    I thought Sea Oak was very enjoyable to read. The thing that bothered me from the beginning, however, was the dialogue (particularly between Min and Jade). I didn’t really find it to be believable. For example, I could never picture someone saying, “Yo chick! You’re the slut who nearly pulled off her own kid’s finger for no freaking reason, man!” I much preferred when the narrator (I can’t recall his name) was telling the story from his point of view. He was nonchalant and level-headed. I also enjoyed the way that Saunders used the “show don’t tell” technique (for example, instead of outrightly calling Min and Jade dumb, he simply says things like “Jade says ‘regicide’ is a virus”, or “Man, what an optometrist”). Another example of where Saunders uses “show don’t tell” is at the very beginning, as the narrator is describing his workplace. It really caught my attention when he said, “The minute his shirt comes off two fat ladies hustle up the aisle and stick some money in his pants and ask will he be their Pilot”. This made me check to see whether I was reading correctly, and thus pay more attention to the rest of the descriptions. By catching the reader’s attention this way, the narrator never has to say “I worked at a strip restaurant”, but instead trusts the reader to deduce that from the details he does give. I thought that was fantastic.
    I really just enjoyed the family dynamic in general. Each member of the family had a specific and identifiable role: The narrator as the reasonable and benevolent provider, Min and Jade as the ignorant and irresponsible (but well-meaning) comical relief, Aunt Bernie as the optimistic peace-maker (well, at the beginning anyway), the mother as the absent family member, and Freddie as the reason for that absence. The family, to me, was a believable depiction of a poverty ridden family who is doing their best to get by.
    The story, already sort of ridiculous, got way more ridiculous toward the end. I definitely did not expect for the story to go in the direction that it did, but it was quite enjoyable to read. It was wildly inappropriate; I loved it. After a while, I was tired of Aunt Bernie’s corpse, but I suppose that my weariness was just a reflection of the characters’ own weariness at having to put up with her. When Aunt Bernie first died, her family thought that she died inexperienced, yet content and optimistic. But at her second death, her family was able to see that she was unhappy because of all the things she was denied in her lifetime. Without outwardly saying so, Saunders gives the readers a sense that the Kowalski (?) family may just begin to take advantage of what life has to offer, despite their situation. Although Aunt Bernie’s last words were “Show your cock”, she certainly behind a more positive message for her family. It was apparent that she just wanted them to get off their asses and do better for themselves. So, even while Aunt Bernie was throwing her decayed limbs across the room and verbally abusing her family members, the reader still felt sort of warm and grateful toward her.

  14. Brenna Malcolm-Peck says:

    I enjoyed reading this story and thought it was full of great descriptions. The dialogue is wonderful and gives readers insight into the characters. The conversations between Min, the narrators sister, and Jade, their cousin, shows how uneducated they are and they poverty they live it. For example, when Jade is saying how optimistic Aunt Bernie is even in the dire situation they are living in she says, “Man what an optometrist.” Jade and Min both have babies and the environment they are growing up in is not safe. When Saunders described Sea Oaks, the apartments where they live, it was very easy to picture and realize exactly how unsafe it was. Without telling readers it was a very poor neighborhood he portrayed it vividly by saying, “There’s an ad hoc crackhouse in the laundry room and last week Min found some brass knuckles in the kiddie pool.” I also thought his description of Joysticks, where our main character works, brought a fantastic picture of the setting to mind. “Then he announces Shirts Off. We take off our flightjackets and fold them up. We take off our shirts and fold them up. Our scarves we leave on…What a stressful workplace. The minute your Cute Rating drops you’re a goner. Guest rank us as Knockout, honeypie, Adequate, or Stinker. Not that I’m complaining. At least I’m working. I’m a solid honeypie/Adequate, heading home with forty bucks cash.” I thought this told us a lot of information about our main character and what he goes through on a day-to-day basis. He works at a low-income job that he doesn’t necessarily like doing in order to bring money home. He and his family live in a very poor and unsafe neighborhood so they need to find somewhere else to live. Another thing I found interesting in the story was how Saunders created Aunt Bernie’s character. She’s always very optimistic. She’s always saying what a great day it’s been, how lucky they are, or how they should be thankful that at least they have a home even when they are living in less than optimal conditions. Then when she dies and comes back her personality completely changes. She didn’t get to do that much during her lifetime but readers never got the sense that she didn’t enjoy her life or regretted anything. When she comes back after dying she is extremely hostile and a completely different person. She talks about never having anything and that her life was shit. She wants to do the things that she never got to while she was living and to help her family get out of the bad situation they are in now. Troy, the narrator’s sister’s baby, is apparently going to get hit by a bullet in September if they don’t move to a safer neighborhood. They all have to work hard to save money so they can move out. With Bernie’s comment,” Some people get everything and I got nothing. Why did that happen,” Saunders makes us see that not everyone is given the same things. Some are extremely poor and have terrible living situations, like the people in this story. We see the characters have to work at bad jobs, like the narrators strip job, in order to get money to get out and save their families from harm.

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