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“A Ghost Story”

But that is a foolish, romantic notion.  I have no hesitation in telling you that.  The major died horribly in the jaws of this enticing woman.  And if you care about what I’m saying and you do not despise me for calling you foolish, even if I have no guile anymore and I call you this seriously, without charm, ten you are a very rare American indeed, and I will tell you how I know this story to be true.

Butler’s “A Ghost Story” was captivating and effective through its language and powerful story line.  From the beginning of the story, I was interested to know what the man had to say to Americans, what we did not already know as a ghost story.  Generally, the American notion of a ghost story is used to frighten and entertain, to scare us into believing nonsense for truth.  This story, however, transformed the average idea of a ghost story and made it fit into real life, with the idea that a spirit can transfer from the real world into the spirit world, and vice versa.  The notion that a spirit can swallow a person whole is terrifying, and Butler does an amazing job in conveying to the reader the reality of this act.  The narrator does not stop at the death of the major, but instead terrifies the reader more by stating that he knows this story to be true, and therefore starts his second story.  The brilliance in this section of the story is his outlook on American behavior.  He states that if you do not automatically judge him by his critique of the American tendency to be put off guard by criticism of our fairy tale expectancies, then he will tell you the rest of the story, almost like you deserve to know. Ending the story with him not being eaten by Miss Linh is even more terrifying because it makes the spirit unpredictable and almost a human being who has interests and “favorites” that she would prefer to consume.  Once again , Butler uses a typical type of story, in this case a ghost story, to draw the reader in, and then leaves us with some sort of life lesson: this one being to never trust a stranger, and to realize that all people, humans and spirits alike, are tempted by beauty and lust, and that no one can be predictable or trusted.

One Response to ““A Ghost Story””

  1. Celia: Thanks so much for this articulate, observant post.