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The pain from losing a beloved one Is In fact an Inevitable part of being alive. As much as we want to avoid it, the faint line between death and life is something we human beings have to learn how to live with. Robin Blacks short story: “Divorced, Beheaded, Survived” from 2010 portrays the life of Sarah before and after the tragic death of her brother.
As Sarah is struggling with the difficulty of coping with her brother’s death, she slowly draws closer to the essentials of the passage of life. Doubleday dealing with the plan of the loss of our loved ones Is tough and heart wrecking, but Is It possible to live on without a proper confrontation or closure of your grief? The storyline follows the protagonist Sarah through her mental progress of accepting the death of her brother, Terry.
The emotional aspects in the story are exemplified through the twisted chronology consisting of Sarah’s present life and flashbacks from her childhood. Black uses Sarah childhood home In Massachusetts as a contrast to show traces of Sarah’s mental state of denial.
WTFO my own children, that long- collected backyard is only part of grandma’s and grandpa’s house, where we go for Thanksgiving, for the Christmas with Lye’s folks in al- 52-53). It is shown here how the old backyard which used to hold a lot of importance for Sarah, her brother and their friends, has become a incidental place for annual occasions to her kids.
This line emphasizes how Sarah has not passed on her Joyful memories to her kids as a result of her lack of confrontation about her late brother.
The protagonist has still not fully processed her sorrow and she is therefore not capable f have her children involved in her own childhood. Also it is seen that Sarah’s past still has a tremendous impact on her present life, as she speaks about the age gap between herself and Terry, comparing it to the amount of ages between her children Mark and Coco. The fact that she keeps intertwining past memories with her adult life throughout the storyline express that she Is still Incapable of letting go. Her present Is still muddled with the pain of the past.
Later on Sarah reaches a significant turning point of her life, as a friend of her son, Mark, passes away in an accident. Sarah starts to see similarities between her son and herself, and slowly step-by-step she starts to open up about the details of the death of Terry. All the hurtful memories are reaching the light of day as Sarah for the first time In her life starts treating her long-hold sorrow. “l took my son by the hand, into my room. Opened the dresser drawer and there he was, smiling out from above the softly folded scarves, the empty fingers of my own gloves seeming to want to hold him there.
It was hard,’ I said to Mark, as he lifted the picture toward his face. ‘There is no secret answer. It was terribly, terribly hard. ” (p. 5, II. 159-163). Near the end of the story, the amount of flashbacks and comparisons are reduced, as brother everyday, while feeling a little guilty, not only is her wound slowly healing, but Sarah draws closer to the understanding of life and death. “It isn’t only discomfort of disloyalty I feel, it’s the fact of utter disappearance after death. The idea that as loved as we may be, we may also be forgotten.
If only for a day here and there. 4, II. 127-130). To bring the plot to a closure Black frames his short story with a last flashback about Sarah’s near non-existent relation to her childhood friend, Molly Dunham. With this flashback Sarah finally understands how the thirty years without any confrontation has not been an essential way of coping with her pain, which could be one of the many messages of the story. Another message could be interpreted from the phrase where Sarah tries to convince herself that it is within human nature to keep on living.
Maybe it’s a gift to be able to let go of the remembering. Some times. Some things. “(p. 4, II. 155-156). With this phrase Black tells the readers that life goes on no matter what, and one should not be guilty about not thinking about the dead all the time, instead one should focus on holding on the Joyful memory and live life to its fullest. Another symbolic feature that lies within the choice of chronology and structure is the swift between present and past. It is a showcase for Sarah’s past intertwining with her everyday life as a symbol of her incapability to let go.
The title of the short story is “Divorced, beheaded, survived” which is the last part of a well-known phrase used to remember the six wives of king Henry 8th. The title itself is mostly explicit in the beginning and in the end of the story. Firstly as a memory of a fine day where Sarah, Terry and a couple of friends decides to act out the drama of king Henry 8th, then in another flashback from Sarah’s high school days where they learn about king Henry 8th in history class. In many ways the title is sufficient to the plot and also from symbolic aspects. The phrase could be interpreted as a connection to the death of Terry.
Intentionally the author chose to use the last part of the phrase as the title instead of the first. The only difference between the two parts is the fact that the word ‘died’ is replaced with ‘survived’, Sarah’s brother died by the hands of sickness, but because of all the memories that Sarah holds so dearly, Terry, still survived and he is therefore still alive in the heart of his sister. Judging from the essence of Robin Blacks short story, as much as life is filled with full and happy moments, all the dark sides like loss and death is something that is unavoidable.
Death is part of life and the opposite. The sooner you realize it and start accepting those inevitable facts of the living the sooner you can free yourself from the endless cycle of grieving. For the protagonist, Sarah, the process of coping with her loss took decades, but luckily she realized that the only way out of the wilderness was to accept the fact that life goes on and our lost ones will always be alive in our hearts, – even if we do not think of them every moment of our lives.