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Sorry for Your Loss

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Thorsteinege
Words 1139
Pages 5
Sorry for the Loss

In many ways the lives we live are governed by our inheritance of culture, genes and our youth. However, the modern society has by an increasing amount come to judge every person individually and collectively. So to speak some say living is actually just life in a bigger prison. The dynamic of labelling will always categorize by good and bad to maintain law and order, thus resulting in a lot of questions. How can society definitively determine evil, and what is an equivalent for the process of fair judgement upon it?

The short story “Sorry for your loss”, first published 2008 by Bridgette Keenan, raises the question of human judgement. The story unfolds with an omniscient narrator with the point of view from the main character. In an unknown small town the prison Chaplain, Evie, has to deliver her first death notice to an inmate named Victor Zamora. As she has never seen him before, and the prison’s faith database does not reveal specific characteristics of him, she is quite nervous. When delivering the news Victor, whom seems to be a good-looking sensible young man, reacts indifferent towards his grandmother’s passing, and is contrary more pursued on redeeming his ill doings. This is shown when Victor asks if he was accepted in the ‘SORRY-course’. As the conversation proceeds, it occurs to Evie that Victor is educated and on the path for re-entering society. She leaves with a feeling of inadequacy, as if she could not reach him through deciphering his character. Or as if the adolescent boy had had superior spiritual insight compared to her.

The general themes presented in the text are yearning for freedom, first impressions, judgement of evil in the sense of regret and the use of contrasts. Early in the text the contrast of free and imprisoned is illustrated: “Evie wonders if the shoppers parking their cars or the office workers who spill from the surrounding buildings on the street for lunch and after work drinks have any notion of the envious eyes watching from above.” (P.3, L.46-50). This phrase supports the mood of the setting, and which conflict the text will concentrate on. During the conversation with Victor, he quotes Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ to, which Evie replies: “God says love the sinner, hate the sin.” (P.4, L.133). Herein Victor’s rationale for evil is put to a test, as well when Evie tries to characterize him: “…Evie won-ders what kind of a background results in a young man so intellectually and spiritually curious, able to show feelings for pigeons, but unable to show emotion at the death of his Nan.” (P.4, L.136-139). First impressions are also situated as an essentiality in this coherence to interpret the message of the story. It also shows the use of symbols and contrasts as a pigeon stands for freedom, and is discussed in the story by a prison inmate. In an extent of the element of yearning for freedom regret comes fore: “They (prisoners) are oblivious to her presence, caught up in a dumb show of waving, blowing kisses and mouthing what she deciphers as ‘I love you’ to their families and friends opposite”. (P.5, L.164-165). Throughout the entire story the prisoner’s regret is emphasized through their craving for freedom, which is also shown when Victor eagerly asks about his enrolment in the ‘SORRY- course’.

Other consecutive contrasts apparent, besides freedom and imprisonment, are; life and death, being sympathetic and being callous. The main characters are also contrasts be-cause of their personalities. Victor is an analogy when he is an educated murderer and both portrayed as good and bad. Evie being a religious chaplain employed in the harsh surroundings of a prison is also a contrast. Her gentle character lucidly does not apply to the story’s setting. Prayer also requires silence, conflicting with the noisy prison initially explained in the story. In the conclusion of the story Victor is in Evie’s mind compared to a butterfly knife: “She wanders back to the chapel trying to imagine a butterfly knife and the damage it could wreak and wondering at the strangeness of how a thing so hard and sharp, designed to cut, slice and stab, could be named after a thing so delicate and easy to kill.” (P.5, L. 185-189). Virtually the conflict of the story lies covertly in this phrase. The first impression of Victor is so contrariwise presented in alignment to the guard’s latter de-scription. An important factor contributing to this effect of uncertainty in the short story is the narrative method employed.

One can argue that the narrator is omniscient limited from the point of view from Evie, since the narrator details the character’s first impressions to a great degree: “The officer looks around with a perplexed, how the hell should I know expression, but realises how nervous she is”. (P.2, L.64-65). The polemic appears when the narrator claims to have an inner view on the officer’s realisation even though the story is told from Evie’s perspective.
The story is in present tense alternately unfolded by dialogue of direct and reported speech. By this manner the readers shape their own impressions of the characters - especially Victor in this coherence. In general the narrative dynamic interacts with the theme consisting of first-hand impressions, judging evil and regret in a composed fashion. Direct speech leads to an implementation of feeling present in the events. In addition the approach of the story is a contrast since the reader has the ‘first-impression’ of understand-ing the plot only to be enlightened that it is full of contrasts.

The title ‘Sorry for the Loss’ does not have any specific meaning, nonetheless if it is meant to be ironic. Hypothetically accepting this premise, one could interpret the story’s message, as nothing is certain by first impression. Thus nothing can be judged upon that feat. Evie expecting Victor to react by remorse or regret shows no signs of that what so ever. His application for the ‘SORRY-course’ does show regret contrariwise. Sorry is by no coincidence spelled in capital letters to emphasize the irony and contrasts of the story. Being sorry is a state of repentance, but the title is a clear contrast to what actually plays out. The fact that so many contrasts is incorporated in the story substantiates the morale that people cannot be judged by first-impressions, which insinuates the difficulty of making judgements in general. Evie learning the cold nature of a younger Victor fails to judge him even having the occupation of a preacher. The ironic title ‘Sorry for the Loss’ is an extent to the theme and message, which implies that fair judgement cannot be reached by glance.

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