Death is a Part of Life
In these three short stories, The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumour, by Sherman Alexie, Loss of the Sky, by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn and The Things They Carried, by Tim OBrien, they show that death is a part of life. The main character in The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumour, Jimmy Many Horses, uses humor to offset that he is sick and dying of cancer. With Loss of The Sky, Joseph Shields loses his son in World War I, he is affected by that and he loses the control of his own life. The main character in The Things They Carried, Jimmy Cross, believes it is his fault that he loses a soldier in the field by not following orders.
In the short story The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumour, Jimmy Many Horses, uses his humour to down play that he is sick and dying. He doesnt want anybody to feel sorry for him. In the beginning of the story, Jimmy has terminal cancer and he uses humour to feel better about it. He and his wife always fight and Jimmy always uses his humour to dull the pain. They go to local tavern and have a Diet Pepsi. She wants him to quit act like a clown and take this more seriously. She leaves him because she cannot deal with him. He still cannot act seriously. Even on his deathbed, he writes FROM THE DEATHBED OF JAMES MANY HORSES, III And then he says But in reality, I sat at my table to write, and DEATH TABLE just doesnt the necessary music. (Page 8)
In the short story Loss of the Sky, Joseph Shields loses his son in the war. This affects his well being, he loses control of his own life and his horses. He quits going up the hill and singing to the sun in the morning. Joseph Shields has strong background in cultural beliefs. He has wife and six children. He has 200 horses in his farm. He was well respected in his community. Every morning he would go up hill and greet the sun by drumming and singing. Every September, his son would be pick and taken to school. Teo did not like that, he want to stay home with his parents and ride horses. Then one year, he leaves school and joins the army. He is killed in action, on the beach. Joseph receives a letter from the army, saying that his sons body will not be return home and he loses control of his own life. He loses many horses and he is not doing so well. He wants his sons bones to rest with his family bones. He never failed to weep that the bones of his son, the middle son, the finest rider anywhere around, could not mingle with the bones of his grandfathers.(Page 100-101)
In the short story The Things They Carried, Jimmy Cross believes that it is his fault that Ted Lavender dies. He thinks that if they were following orders he would not have lost Ted Lavender. The men in his unit carried a lot of things, emotional and physical. Jimmy carried pictures of a girl, named Martha who he thought he loved. He always thought of her. They carried a lot of military hardware and thought was way to death away. When Ted Lavender is killed, the men his unit did what they wanted to do and did not follow orders. If they just follow orders and serve like army, Ted Lavender would be still alive. After he is killed, Jimmy destroys the letters from her and his pictures of Martha. He was full of anger. He found that he did not love her. On the morning after Ted Lavender died, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross crouched at the bottom of his foxhole and burned Marthas letters. Then he burned the two photographs. (Page 348)
In these short stories, death is a part of life. It affects all the characters in these stories. Jimmy Many Horses is sick and dying. Joseph Shields loses his son in the war. And Jimmy Cross loses a soldier. Each character is affect by death in many ways. Death is a part of Life.
Alexie, Sherman, The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumour The Wascana Anthology of Short Fiction, Page 1.
Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth, Loss of the Sky The Wascana Anthology of Short Fiction, Page 99.
OBrien, Tim, The Things They Carried The Wascana Anthology of Short Fiction, Page 337.