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McCracken, “The Bar of Our Recent Unhappiness”


For this story I tried to look for the unspoken “story.” What is this story really about? The story is about how the narrator feels about his wife before and after her accident. It is very sad, and it pulled my heartstrings. I know how this person feels, as anyone who ever took care of a loved one who’s been changed by an unfortunate circumstance.

I looked for elements that might count as allegory, and motif, but I did not see any in this story. What I did pick up on is the element of shared grief. This is reflected in the awkward friendship between George and the main character.  The only piece that might be allegorical or perhaps a motif is the dog. The dog has a human-like characteristic. Appearing on stoops “on her elbows,” the bar, and making facial gestures normally not found on dogs.

I want to say that the story is also about relationships with different levels of emotional attachment. For example; George’s relationship to his mother is based on guilt. “She slipped in the bathtub” at George’s house while visiting him. The main character’s relationship with his wife, George, and the driver of the Blue Dodge seems to have several layers of complexity. For example; George feels obligated to his “wife” but at the same time desires the Barbara he used to know. He hates the driver and wishes bad things to happen to that person, and he is jealous of the freedom that George has now obtained when he moved his mother to another hospital for assisted suicide.

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