Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Big Read IV: The Dummy + 7 Types of Ambiguity

The Lottery: And Other Stories The Dummy

Who's the dummy?

Two women go to see the show. Mrs. Wilkins fusses a little about their table placement. They are near where the entertainers come out. Mrs. Straw presumes the owner sits near the back, near the kitchen, because "she probably makes sure the glasses are washed."

Mrs. Wilkins picked up her fork indifferently, watching Mrs. Straw. "I had a letter from Walter yesterday," she said.
"What'd he have to say?" Mrs. Straw asked.
"He seems fine," Mrs. Wilkins said. "Seems like there's a lot he doesn't tell us."
"Walter's a good boy," Mrs. Straw said. "You worry too much."
Yet another gulf between mother and child.

First a pair of ballroom dancers pass them for the stage. They nod to a woman in a green dress and the man with her, a ventriloquist. He does his act, but the two women can't hear, really. They fuss over their dessert. When he comes back to his table, he wants his drink, and argues with his girl. Rather, the dummy argues with her. He sounds like he's trying to reason with the dummy.
"Be quiet," the girl said, looking around her anxiously. "Everyone can hear you."
"Let them hear me," the dummy said. ...
"Now, Marmaduke," the man said to the dummy, "you'd better talk nice to your old mother."
"Why, I wouldn't tell that old bag the right time," the dummy said.
The two women leave, but not before Mrs. Wilkins slapped the dummy sharply across the face.
For a moment the man and girl sat looking at the dummy slumped over sideways, its head awry. Then the girl reached over and straightened the wooden head.

Seven Types of Ambiguity

A man and a woman enter a funky basement bookstore. Mr. Harris seems entirely a straight character, perhaps I need to dig deeper. The customers interest in books seems to be more for decor than for the merit of the particular books, even though they keep saying they like to read.

The college boy really wants the book Seven Types of Ambiguity but can't afford it. The man is interested in it, it seems only because the boy showed such an interest. He confirms with Mr. Harris that the boy is unlikely to buy it, so the man buys it. Aha. That's the diabolical moment...Mr. Harris selling the book out from under the boy, relying on the ambiguity of the boy's intent.

Hmmm. I wonder if a person needs to read this book in order to really get Shirley Jackson? Or, just study the 7 types as found at wikipedia.

See what the others are saying here.

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