Disjunction vs Communion in Raymond Carvers Short Stories
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Disjunction vs. Communion in Raymond Carverís Short Stories
Raymond Carver, poet, essayist, and short story writer, was very different from some other writers in that he clipped his writing until only the essential remained. " Carver not only acknowledged the effect that fiction could have on readers, he proclaimed that it should affect readers."( Bonetti 58) Thus, when Carver writes about intimate relationships, the reader perceives the stories as more than entertainment or skillful language; the reader relates to the charactersí situations and applies the knowledge to their own lives. It is within this realm of character affirmation that Carver draws a much more elaborate, and meaningful detail in his short stories. I propose that Carverís characters either connect or fail to connect on an intimate, spiritual level. It is this difference in his short stories which either draw the reader into or away from the meaning. These relations make certain writings in Carverís stories more interesting.
More directly, it is the communion in his later writings, and the disjunction in his earlier writings, that distinguish the two types of styles. Communion within the characters of Carverís later writings, as in his collections in Cathedral, create much more depth and interest in his stories. It is within this scope of communion that Carverís stories seem to become more fulfilling with character affirmation.
Communion occurs in Carverís stories when several conditions are satisfied. The difference in the two criteria; communion and disjunction, is simply defined. "Communion, n 1. A sharing of thoughts or feelings 2. a A religious or spiritual fellowship." (Websters, 141) It is a connection between characters which allows them to transcend the ordinary and redefine themselves. A moment in which words, actions, and objects take on exaggerated significance . Carver uses this bond between characters in his later writings more directly, such as in his anthology Cathedral. You must first initialize an intimate interaction between two or more characters who can communicate---either verbally or physically. If an individual is still projecting his/her personality onto another, that individual has not experienced the loss of self-awareness which is necessary for communion. Another important element for this experience is touch. The characters who gain understanding of each other, touch on another. It is within these guidelines that I find Carvers stories to be more interesting.
Disjointed on the other hand is near similarity in communion, in that it contains the seed of communion which failed to grow. The protagonist achieves some measure of success only to falter. Disjunction occurs when an opportunity exists for the characters to change their lives in a small, spiritual way, and they are unable to seize it. Even with the spiritual isolation that many of Carvers characters hold, disjunction blocks me from the stories in that it leaves me unfulfilled, distracts me from the main point. The transgression of characters within stories, gives reader a greater insight into a spiritual change of some sort, the lack thereof leaves something missing in the story. A more influential meaning is gained when a connection of some sort is maid between characters. As Carver said in a interview later in his life," In fiction that matters the signifigance of the action inside the story translates to the lives of the people out side the story" ( Davis 658)
Carverís life, or biography, bares a little insight into his phases, or different stages in which he wrote his different types of stories and poems. Carver lived most of his life in a world which could not provide the luxury of spiritual affirmation. He grew up in Clatskanie, Oregon to working class-parents in a alcoholic home where reading material was limited to Zane Gray novels, and the newspaper. Following high school, Carver married his pregnant high school sweet hart. His drinking became heavier. A list of meaningless jobs followed , in which writing only provided a emotional outlet. During this time, Carverís hard life may have instigated the disjunction he portrayed in his earlier writings. Poverty and family problems continually interrupted his work. Carver was constantly broke, filled for bankruptcy twice, and was fired from his white collar job as a result of alcoholism. In 1977 he received a National Book award nomination and had several stories published in various magazines and
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Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Cathedral, Carver, Eucharist, Still, Short story, Communion
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