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Fire and the Dying Flames of the American Dream - Essay Example

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Date Fire and the Dying Flames of the American Dream For a short story to appear in a tome such as “Modern Classics of Fantasy,” it must contain fantastical elements that set it apart from the conventional narrative. For example, in Terry Bisson’s “Bears Discover Fire,” a reader is introduced to the main story line of the narrator, Bobby, as he gets stranded on the side of the road with his brother and nephew…
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Fire and the Dying Flames of the American Dream
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"Fire and the Dying Flames of the American Dream"

Download file to see previous pages The fantastical element within the story occurs without the expected excitement. Bears discover fire, the local news station (the narrator is never sure which one) document footage, but essentially the lives of the characters are utterly unaffected by the seemingly outstanding phenomenon. A reader can interpret this one of two ways. First, that the characters within the story are capable of accepting bears as higher, more evolved beings within their daily life—something vaguely interesting but will soon become too commonplace to worry about. Or, second, that the bears discovering fire signal a much deeper significance within the main story arch: that the bears parallel the narrator’s personal discovery that life has passed him by and he was never able to achieve anything more significant than being adept at changing tires; a remarkable matter when it becomes clear within the first few moments that his skill is a dying art and he is now replaceable by “stuff called FlatFix…$3.95 the can” (Bisson 523) The reader experiences the same encroaching depression, as “weak [and] flicker” (523) as the flashlight that refuses to light the narrator’s way, as he becomes relevant only within his own life. A pivotal moment in the story occurs when the narrator is sitting across the fire from a group of bears and he is impacted by a revelation about the nature of the human-like creatures. Though they have come together in a social group to utilize the benefits of fire, only a few bears seem to have the ability to control it “and were carrying the others along” (529). He reflects that “isn’t that how it is with everything?” (529). The narrator’s revelation is entirely unresolved, but the author was, perhaps, leading a reader to their own conclusions about how people work within social groups. A few people have the skill to make fire, cook meals, make repairs, etc, while others are being carried along because they do not possess said skill. Yet, the group still functions. The narrator is at once struck by the beauty of the fire, the “little dramas were being played out as fiery chambers were created and then destroyed in a crashing of sparks” (529). This moment, as miniscule as it may seem to the reader, serves to highlight the deeper theme of how the American Dream has been lost for the narrator. Life is full of “fiery chambers” that dance and envelope a person still capable of maintaining the passion to reach for their dream. But as with many who have held a dream and let it go (for reasons of life, love, or accident), that dream is “destroyed” exactly like the blazing cherubs of hope within the pit of fire. Outside his own imagination, he looks across the fiery circle “at the bears and wondered what they saw. Some had their eyes closed. Though they were gathered together, their spirits still seemed solitary, as if each bear was sitting alone in front of its own fire” (529). Struck by the solitary nature of the animals, he has found that though they work together as a group for the benefit of their survival, they are entirely independent from the group as a whole. Essentially, they are still in a form of hibernation, separated from the whole by their own ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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