Interconnectedness of the stories in Tenth of December
Societies arefull of issues, either usual or unusual, in their daily activities orlife experiences. It is from these issues that writers createliterature stories that are more specific to different communities.Literary works are based on what the writers sees, hear, feel,experience and read within their societies. Therefore, literary worksare subject to variation with respect to the writers themselves andthe societies they come from. Literature can provide usefulinformation that can be used by an individual to study and understanda given society. There are various ways through which writers’ideas can be expressed in literature, and they are subject to change.Literary works can be portrayed majorly through poetry, prose, drama,non-fiction, and media. Media is the latest type that has beenintroduced due to technological development that has taken place.Some include movies, TV programs, etc.
Sutherland J(2011) argues that no one can better understand the literature betterthan the writers themselves “Many of the ideas about literatureand how best to understand it originates with the writersthemselves…it is only those who create literature who can writeusefully about it… All the rest is…twiddle-twaddle” (SutherlandJ. (2011). The writer created the literature based on issues thathe/she identified in their society, and there is a high possibilityof created and understanding those issues based on their perspective.Therefore, any other work done on the same literature cannot be thesame but close to what the author meant or intended. Writers e.g.George Saunders usually connect their stories with their societieswithin which they live in.
Writers usually identify some issues in the society upon which theybased their works. They may be depicting unproductive socialpractices that may be dragging their society behind. They may becriticizing the practices with the aim of transforming them for thegood of the society. Through literature, most societies haveexperience several changes in their social lives. These literaturesare written by their authors with the aim of inspiring change orimprovement. Nonfiction literatures such as novels, short stories,plays, etc. have been used by various authors such as George Saundersin enlightening their societies about certain behaviors and sociallife.
George Saunders,American, have based on short stories, novels and children’s booksto convey his information. Some of his work include Tenth ofDecember, Pastoria, The Braindead Megaphone, In Persuasion Nation:Stories, Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness. Inthis paper, the focus will be given to two short stories Tenth ofDecember and The Braindead Megaphone. Here the focus is specificallydirected on how the stories in Tenth of December collection areinterconnected.
The collection,Tenth of December, has ten short stories. In the first story, thereis abduction witness by a boy named Kyle who is in the dilemma ofchoosing between whether to help the girl or let it go and keephimself safe. The girl, Alison, was his friend earlier but reducedthe friendship once she became famous. Kyle cares more when it comesto his life he is under strict household rules which he fears tobreak. The fear goes to the extent of avoiding helping Alison, whowas being kidnaped. It is natural to give a helping hand in suchsituation despite your earlier encounter. Kyle may not be okay withthe fact that Alison ceased hanging out with him just because she wasfamous. This pain and the strict rules should not have made himprotect himself at the expense of Alison.
In “Escape fromSpiderhead”, a man sacrifices his life in order to save anotherperson’s life that he has no affection for. Jeff is subject todrugs that are used to determine the strength of love for two ladiesfirst separately and then together. When Jeff and Heather were put inone room, none of them feels any attraction for the other. The drugis administered and they fall in love with each other and have sex.The same happens when Jeff and another lady, Rachael, are put in thesame room. Next time Jeff and the two ladies are put in the same roomso that he can choose which lady he love most but does not givepreference since he does not want any of the two to be hurt. The drugto be used, in this case, is very powerful and induces a lot of pain.Heather commits suicide in order to avoid the pain that is resultedby Darkenfloxx. Jeff takes the drug so that Rachael does not followthe same course as that of Heather.
The two stories,“victory lap” and Escape from Spiderhead”, represent twoindividuals with opposite characters.In the former, Kyle weighsbetween saving Alison and the consequences of breaking the stricthousehold rules by his parents plus the pain of being left by Alisonthe moment she became famous. He puts himself first and neglectsAlison. In the latter, Jeff despite having no romantic affection foreither of the ladies wishes the best for them. He proves this byinducing himself the pain that Rachael could have suffered now thatHeather was no more due to suicide. He could not stand to see anotherperson to die or suffer. The two cases are very contradicting as Kyleis self-centered while Jeff is selfless. Human beings mostly makejudgments based on immediate consequences and not far-off rippleeffects (Bauer, F. R. (2003). The truth was less clear to Kyle thanhe thought it was. Bauer, F. R. (2003) argues that it is important toadd moral interest of others. It is morally permissible to suffer forthe good of others.
Becker L. C. &Becker C. B. (2013) explain that what is bad lead to suffering andgood deeds removes suffering. Alison probably suffered after theabduction and Kyle could have done something to avoid it, heconsidered the immediate consequences. The two characters are foundin any society self-centered and selfless individuals. Buddhists,which George Saunders is among, believe that any action, be itbodily, verbal or mental that leads to suffering is a bad action. Anypleasure or action that may induce suffering, pain, on others is bad.Killing brings suffering as it result in loss of life and isassociated with trauma. This is what Jeff may have been trying toavoid by administering the Darkenfloxx and endure the pain himself.It is, therefore, important to ask whether what you area about to domeets the standard of ethics of the society that you live in.
Anything bad wedo now will also haunt us later. Jeff induced himself the sufferingand in return prevented future suffering or intense suffering if incase Rachael could have done what Heather did. In “Home” thesoldier returns from the Middle East and finds himself in a placethat he does not understand. He finds home miserable due to thethings he had done earlier before he left for the Middle East. Asalready mentioned earlier, anything that brings suffering is bad.Therefore, whatever the soldier did before leaving is responsible forthe current situation he is experiencing. The soldier is now feelingeffect of war trauma, miserable childhood and then broken marriage.His life may be termed as a “mess” as he does not seem to haveenjoyed any part of his life. It is ironic to find it hard to surviveand that he no longer understands his home country.
Although not allthe stories were used in this paper, the connectedness of the storiescan be identified in the few ones used in this case. Theconnectedness of the stories in the Tenth of December collectionshows that the issues that happen in our societies are linked to oneanother or are related in one way or the other. These issues revolvearound ethics and moral principles of the societies we live in. Theethics dictate what is right and wrong. In the short stories byGeorge Saunders in Tenth of December collection, ethics associatedwith issues represented by various narratives are evident. Thestories are related with one another as in the case of the “VictoryLap” and “Escape from Spiderhead” where the interest of othersin suffering is analyzed. The characters in both stories haveopposing choices when it comes to deciding to save one from sufferingor saving them from suffering.
Bauer, FrederickR. The Essence of Ethics. Worcester, Mass: AmbassadorBooks, Inc, 2003. Print.
Becker L. C. &Becker C. B. Encyclopedia of Ethics, Routledge, 2013
John Sutherland,How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts, Oxford UniversityPress, USA, 2011.
Saunders,George. Tenth of December: Stories. London: Bloomsbury,2013. Internet resource.