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Commentary on Passage from Shirley Ann Grau's "The Keepers of the House".

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Introduction

Alexander Kaplan 26-AUG-2004 Commentary on Passage from Shirley Ann Grau's "The Keepers of the House" This passage is a quintessential example of a modern writer's take on social impasses, and portrays a character's marked dissatisfaction with the human condition. The prose is complexly and subtly woven to convey a mood of languid boredom, a character's sentiments-jaded by the idle luxury of the 'Southern aristocracy' in the United States, the lack of care for the well-being of others. A brief colloquy between the narrator (Abigail), Mrs. Holloway, and a certain Mrs. Locke, is characterized by terseness on the part of Abigail, and obvious discomfort. Through use of brief narrative, tone, diction, and imagery, Grau successfully describes, in her own unique way, the clich� scene of Southern discomfort. The reader, upon scanning the first line of the passage, immediately detects a sense of dread, marked by a syntactically broken sentence: "I knew what the tea would be like before I got there. ...read more.

Middle

She's lost weight, and from her personal analysis of the conversation, is self-identifying as discontent. The word choice is clearly indicative of this notion: "The sound of that was harsh in the tinkle of laughter and voices", "with a firm hand on my arm she launched me into the crowded room". Abigail makes note of the fact that the initial conversation is basically idling around a more pertinent issue. There's a feeling of being pushed, of pressure. The sentences become tense and short, syntax communicating discomfort. "I said nothing. I could wait. I just didn't think they could. And I was right." The uncomfortable questioning begins, and the descriptions slowly shift to allow the anger within Abigail to manifest itself. She describes Mrs. Holloway: "I looked at the smooth pink face perched atop the round shoulders and the heavy breasts, tightly wrapped in flowered silk." Soon the reader realizes that Abigail has been deceived in the recent past, and her discontent is absolutely demonstrated by word choice and imagery. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her husband and his brother owned the slaughter yards." The diction and tone, as well as imagery, are all perfectly demonstrative of the uncomfortable atmosphere. The terse sentences build and build towards the close of the passage, and the opening of the window releases the pressure building within the room, the social tension among the women filling the room prior. The image of the scent of the sweets is a direct metaphor to the superficiality that Abigail encountered initially, the treats initially pleasing but holding no nutritional value. Louise Allen, the well-chose image of her chewing on her finger nervously, summarizes the overall sentiment of the other women in the room. The women in the room, in the eyes of Abigail, in their furs, lush and living in luxury, are revealed as morally corrupt and ethically twisted. The reader, through use of excellent prose, is made to experience the atmosphere, as well as identify with Abigail's dilemma. The pomp and circumstance of the situation, the vapid and blas� attitude of the women, are all perfectly communicated by Shirley Ann Grau's excellent use of the English language. ...read more.

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