Jed Cunningham was a typical young man, whith a superior intellect in relasion to the avarage youth. Some of his teachers at school couldn’t stand him because, as the narrator tells, he was also intellectually superior to them. But I think it the reason might be that he was a young man with his own ideas of the world around him, who didn’t seem to accept the way he was suppose to think. As i get it, he seems to ba a rebellion, whom could not stand to be like the average, he would not ever do anything expected of him or anything appropriate for a person with his intellect. Also he wouldn’t follow the standarts of behavior, wich as a natural part of the society and environment that soronuds him, are a matter of course.
The narrator explains him as a charming and independent young man, whom could get along with: “The deeply wierd scientist nerd to the incredibly popular and handsome head boy.” Popular at school, but to good and to adult-like to be defined by a crowd around him. He wanted to be a poet, to wonder about live, and to be somthing else than what people wanted him to be. Also he wanted to have no limits, nothing to commit him to a place, nothing to prevent him from traveling and doing exactly what he wants to do at the moment. And told are we that his “mantra” was live by the moment, seize the day.
Though Jed Cunningham never wanted to look back and was, or wanted to be, independent and uncomitted, he anyway, several years after his graduation, joins the school reunion and in that way he does look back. He might do it because his life didn’t really turn out as he had hoped for in his rebellious youth. Now he is alone in a remote place on the coutry, because he – as he admits – has droven his wife to the point of insanity. Possible he also lives without friends, maybe he hasn’t been able to stay in contact with anyone because of his ideas of life, and the wish of being independent. Perhaps, he now regrets that he trew all the happiness and security back in school away to live by his ideas. Now he sees, what he back then, trow away and somehow wants it back. No more he wants to be the suffering poet, he wants to be the average guy with a steady family and life. And in that way he admits that his way of life only was suppose to be one of the youth dreams and not a life in practice.
Of course this is only a guess, in wich I have “read between the lines,” I can’t in any way prove this in the text. 2. The narrators image of herself She writes about herself as a bit of a disaster. Don’t get me wrong, it is the picture you get from reading the tekt. She hates her life and the fact that she hadn’t got the courrage to follow Jed into her dreams. That she hadn’t the bravery to ruin all of the expectations of her and she is locked up in the everyday life. That she back in the youth needed the security of education and a normal way of living. Now she is tired of the repetition, for instance she writes about how she has to go and pick up her youngest daughter, how the daughter is dependent of her picking her up, like this:
“… before she had to pick her youngest daughter up from school and say, “How was your day?” and hear “Boring” before listening to the same Harry Potter tape for the tenth time because all the other tapes were in the bedroom and they kept forgetting to bring a new one into the car, …” The fact that she can actually tell what she is going to ask her daughter, and what the answer will be, indicates that she might have tryed this quite a coupple of times before. When she writes that she had to pick her up, seems a bit negative to me. If she really enjoyed to go and pick her youngest daghter up from school she could for instance have written. Before she was going to pick up her youngest daughter from school, and definatly quit the part with the lines.
The narrator tells us how she uses a lot of lotions to stop wrinkels, trying on her daughters close, and how she is working out like an insane, in a hopeless escape from the ageing process. It seems as all she really wants to, is to be back in school with all the dreams and expectations of life and being a poet. She appears as very unconfident personality, for whom life never really turned out as she had dreamed it to. Also it seems to me that it is like a burden to her that she never had the bravery to be what she wanted to be, instead of what her circle of acquaintances wanted her to.
That might also be the reason why she was, and still is, so in love with Jed. He was the only one she could ever talk to about not following the expectations. For instance she tells about their “secret” dream, moving to Ireland and live by the day. As she writes about Jed. “… he was the first, ever, who met her interlectually…” He was the first person she had met, who she could share her inner thoughts and dreams with.
The narrator always describes herself negatively, and, untill the very last part of the short story, her life seems to be a complete failure. But at last when she, in her mailing-conversation with Jed, realizes that his life actually was the complete failure. She discovers that her life might be much more important than she thinks. And she finds that what they had back in school was an utopian dream that could lead to no future.
3. The significance of their youthful relationship As I understand this short story, their relationship has been build on the fact that both of them had some thoughts about the society and world wich surounded them. I think they found a passion in each other because they could share these thoughts as well as challenge each other intellectually and in that way go to another level in the comprehension of this world.
Their common dream about moving to Ireland and live as poets, only working to pay their rents, it too makes the special connection between them even stronger. It is somthing mutual to share, the only difference between them was their different view of this dream. The narrator knows that it is a dream that can’t ever be true, of the poor reason that she can’t breake her suroundings expectations to her future. Jed, on the other hand percieves this dream as a part of his riot against the society and the expectations. He truely believes that it will come true some day.
It is a quite remarkeble dream, because it altrough the narrators life has kept her back. She couldn’t move on and the only reason why is that she was, until the last piece of the short story, still living in the regret that she could not follow Jed and the dream. At last when she knows about Jed’s lonly life in the country, she realize that possibly she was not the one to make the wrong choice several years ago, perhaps Jed was.
4. Comments on the languae and the point of view The perspective is changing through the short story, but it is always narrative with a limited point of view. The narrator’s name is not revealed in the story. It only lets the reader into the main character’s mind, and not Jed’s, which means that we know what the narrator thinks about herself, her life and Jed. The language in the story is formal.
The narrator uses examples when she implies something and there is not much use of slang, if any. She uses long sentences with imagery language. For example when the narrator writes about Jed and herself, “He wrote the most wonderful letters, unexpected, witty, dangerous” She uses a lot of adjectives that emphasizes even more visible when the story is suppose to be negative, idyllic and so on. The adjectives makes it more alive.
5. The theme I think the theme is about how the youth is to be enjoyed. Everybody in this story wants to go back to when life was ahead of them and it could turn out in every way they wished for. How the dreams of the future dominated the mind and they still had the chance to choose what to be and how to act. The story describes how the fear of acting in the wrong way, makes someone hold on to the secure choise and possibly it keeps them back. While on the other hand, the fear of being like everyone else, or not to follow ones dreams makes you throw every kind of security away, and rush into a life you might get lost in.
6. The title The narrator realizes at last that she was right in not going away and instead stay safe with her family, cause that was the right thing to do for her. She is not a poet “.. and only a poet could be happy with a life of sin.” She can’t leave her children she won’t, it would be a sin she could not live with. At last she figures out that she has to transfer her passion of the unknown to her children, now they are the youth with all life ahead of them. They are the ones to use it now. She can’t live with the sin of a poet, but she won’t either suppress it inside of her, that is why she passes it on to her children. And like that, she has been fair, and justifyed the poetic part she got inside.