Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Red Convertible

I first read this story a few years ago in a short story class and the impact is similar.  One thing I find interesting is my reaction to Lyman and remembering my classes reaction to his life post-Henry.  When my class read it then my teacher and then the students all made a big scene out of pointing out that Lyman was drunk and stoned when he tossed the picture in a bag and then in the closet.  They, and I think I went along with this, made it sound as though he was on a bender, like his life was out of control.  We talked about him as horribly sad and some people even made him sound a bit pathetic or like he'd become like Henry, just blankly watching the TV and not living.  This is a pretty bleak outlook on this young man and a guy in the mid seventies (or now) who has had a few drinks and smoked a joint is not "out of control", nothing about what he described sounds like he's fallen into a pit of sadness.  He was down one night and this happened, as things do.  Were we s convinced that he had to be spiraling in sadness to want to take down the picture of Henry?  I think so.  I think we have trouble allowing people to grieve how they want to, and we want to pass judgement on what they can and cannot handle.  Lyman probably went back and forth, up and down, had good days and bad over Henry's death for years - but it is much more dramatic for us to think of other wallowing.  To see tears being shed is much more concrete than someone who moves on only to have occasional bad nights - it doesn't make their suffering any less or their mourning.  Why do we like to impose how we think people should be sad?

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