sorrow and render them unable to function. Whether grief manifests itself in a Bengali wifedousing herself in lighter fluid and standing in the front yard holding a match to her flammablegarments, or carrying it around like the relics of the dead, grief forces perfectly sane people toact outside the normal realm of their thoughts. Forbidden, unrequited love, the death of a friendor family member, drifting away from those you love, all can cause a depressing grief that ebbsand flows like the river Styx.
Amy Bloom’s “By
y” and Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Hell
contain two very different examples of grief, two distinctly different causes of the same emotion.
by” is the story of Anne, a beautiful young woman who we presume from the
beginning to be dead. Amy Bloom has a specific way of introducing her story to us. From the
beginning, we know that this is a story about death. “Every death is violent. The iris, the
rainbow of the eye, closes down. The pupil spreads out like black water. It seems natural, if youare there, to push the lid down, to ease the pleated shade over the ball, to the lower lashes. The
light is out, close the door.”
Anne’s death is meant to be particularly disturbing and
heartbreaking to the reader. She is missing, she was raped, and she was stabbed twice in theheart. Eugene Trask, our ever-present metaphor for death, actually enjoyed her company. Shewas always Anne, never Annie, and she was special. There is something to be said about the