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Robin Black Case

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Most adults consider children too frail and innocent to know how the real world works; how things like death, disease or disaster can grab a hold of you and steer you in a certain direction, maybe one you had not even thought of previously. These topics are serious and they are difficult to deal with, so much so that they make children grow up too quickly, and adults grow old before their time. These are not things one can outwardly see, but they are there nonetheless, so the question is, do we give out children the tools to deal with such things in advance, or do we spare them the knowledge? What is the right course of action in this case? It is a dilemma each parent has to find the answer for individually, but in the short story "Divorced, Beheaded, Survived" from 2010 by Robin Black, an example is shown, in which a mother who lost her brother as a child, has to find a way of managing the sorrow of her son who has lost his best friend.

Robin Black's short story employs a first-person narrator point of view in the role of the protagonist; a mother whose 16 year old son has recently lost his best friend, and who herself lost her older brother as a child. The use of a first person narrator in this case gives the story a more personal touch as the reader will find it easier to relate to the protagonist than if she happened to be a third-person narrator, which is necessary considering the emotional and frankly, personal, nature of the short story. It therefore enables the reader to effortlessly bond enough with the narrator, Sarah, to sympathise clearly with her, something which appears to be very intentional on the author's part; "There was no more ease between us. Not even between my brother and me. I didn't know how to speak to the quiet, solemn boy he had become."

"... Divorced, Beheaded, Survived" has a rather interesting structure which jumps back and forth between past experiences and present actions. In fact, the flashbacks take up more or less the same amount of space as the present time sections of the story. Externally, the short story can be divided into eleven sections with the aforementioned, unsteady time pattern. The text starts in medias res in a flashback, in which Sarah, her brother and their friends are performing an act, playing out the story of King Henry VIII of England, after which the reader is brought into the present as the narrator provides some knowledge of her brother's death along with her life at present. This is also where it is revealed that her son's best friend has died. Abruptly it switches to a flashback, then back around to present time, and like so the story keeps on bouncing the reader. The fact that the story starts in medias res, provides a sense of drama, and the reader is immediately intrigued by the seemingly meaningless story of children playing in the garden, but as soon as it switches back to the present, the reader realizes the seriousness of the short story, and the effect is halting, almost shockingly so.

Symbolism is not something this short story lacks. In fact, a lot of actions and wordings illustrate some kind of emotion or message. Firstly, in the beginning of the text, as Sarah depicts



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