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ENG214H5 (11)

“Speaking of Courage” - O'Brien

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Daniela Janes

“Speaking of Courage” – conflict between speaking and withholding – focuses on Norman Bowker th – set on July 4 – title foregrounds act of speaking – story Norman tells is about his courage failing – moment of fear and terror – wanting to speak and not finding anyone to talk to – Norman is driving around the lake in circles in his father's car – reintegrating into a world that hasn't changed when the soldier has changed – the loop that leads you around (memory) – thinks about the things he left behind – his father doesn't seem to want to hear what Norman wants to say – p. 135 – staging fantasy/longing to tell the story about how he almost won the Silver Star – the father will never open up to listen to the story – Norman wants to confess something – having a hard time to find the language to tell the story and finding someone who will listen – p. 137 – city had no memories thus no guilt – those who were there and can recognize the truth and those who were not there – relationship between the listener and the speaker – death of Kiowa staged several times – p. 142 & 163 – repetition of wording – cubist perspective – same event being narrated from different POVs – p. 143 – abject failure – larger function of short story cycle – somethings can never be described – get close to some approximation of the truth – p. 144 – sense of invisibility – as if the night is erasing him – p. 146 – blank, anonymous voice – post-Modern confessional space – p. 147 – he could not talk about it and never would – submersion in shitfield vs. submersion in water at the end (symbolic baptism, purity ritual) – conclude with moment of submersion – re-enact the death – restitution – closure – confession “Notes” – gloss for story we just read – post-script for story we read – reporterly opening – persistence of memory – memory – located in the past – finite – closed – have their own organic vitality – is unresolvable – lack of resolution in thematic level – no rectitude – stories do something so important for people who live with experiences of trauma – destabilization of narrative starting point – p. 153 – repeated motif of failure – Norman failed to tell his story – O'Brien failed to tell Norman's story – for O'Brien, just being there is being guilty – p. 163-164 – ragged clotted voice – bubbles where Kiowa's head should have been – Jimmy Cross's drafting of the letter
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