Obligatorisk Skriftlig eksamensopgave Del 2– Engelsk B – e-learning – René Rubion
B1 – Summary: The Joke is a short story, telling us about the protagonist’s somewhat claustrophobic thoughts and what he hears and sees, from the point of view of an omnipotent narrator. The setting, for almost the entire duration of the story, is a man sitting in the living room, overhearing his wife having a telephone conversation in the kitchen. She tells a friend, without even asking the man, that she will be picked up by him. Hearing this, the man’s thoughts go down an alley of frustration about being taken for granted, about not feeling appreciated or being thanked for the services he does for his wife and her friends and family. His thoughts go further down the road of anger about the loss of sense of togetherness and frequent sex. He feels a strong urge to try to do something about it; tell her a joke and make her laugh like before. B2 – Characterization: Our protagonist is a middle-aged Irish man. He is basically a nice fellow and good husband. The children have flown the nest and he now experiences a textbook male mid-life crisis after twentysix years of marriage. He is sexually frustrated and feels unappreciated and taken for granted by his wife. At the same time he is either too shy of conflict, too unresolved about himself and the situation, too much of a couch potato, too civilized or too all of the above to do something about it. Apparently he has no friends to confide in and discuss his frustrations with and no hobbies or interests in his life to keep him occupied and happy. The anger he feels stems not only from the sexual frustration, but also from a feeling of emptiness and sorrow, now that his role as an active parent is played out and now that the closeness and friendship he shared with his wife which that very same role disrupted, never came back. He has crash-landed somewhat ill-prepared in the middle of this new phase of his life, because at some point along the way he forgot to maintain male friendships. And now he has fallen victim of too many years of having his wife as his best friend. B3 – Comment: The title refers to a joke that the protagonist considers telling his wife as an attempt to relight the sexual spark between them that has dwindled considerable after years of marriage. B4 – (Short) Essay: Is there alien life in the universe? The SETI project, searching for the answer to that question, constantly scans the skies for radio transmissions, assuming we will be able to recognize any deliberate message broadcast by alien civilizations by universally mathematical patterns like prime numbers to catch our attention. -Like in the movie Contact. Considering the communication problems that relatively closely related species, like men and women, encounter on a daily basis, I do not share Hollywood’s optimism about our chances of ever decoding any message that might follow that prime-number jingle. In fact I fear that our only response ever, will be a frustrated “What?!” An authentic example from a friend of mine: He and his wife were driving in their car. “Are you hungry?” she asked. “No” he answered, his mind on the traffic, failing to make the connection of the question with the MacDonald’s they were passing about an attosecond later. No need to tell male readers that the wife went mad at him, an offer to make a u-turn was futile and that he was unable to convince her that the fault was entirely on her side. Had she simply said “pull over at the Macdonald’s, Honey,” the problem never would have occurred.
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