This essay focuses on the short story by Robert Olen Butler speaks of a jealous husband who returns to his wife in the form of a parrot. Jealous of his wife’s extramarital affairs during his lifetime, the unnamed narrator brings about his death while trying to spy on her with another man…
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His inner frustration is vented out when he says, ‘I flap my wings and I squawk and I fluff up and I slick down and I throw seed and I attack that dangly toy as if it was the guy's balls’ (Butler). However, it merely increases his frustration for the result is merely a deeper realization of his tragic reality: ‘… it does no good. It never did any good in the other life either, the thrashing around I did by myself’ (Butler). The writer, therefore, revolves the story and the narration around this inner conflict felt by the parrot, who has no choice now but to see other men visiting his wife in what used to be his home.
Robert Olen Butler, in fact, adds to the agony of the parrot/jealous husband through the constructed set of the play. The narrator returns to his home when he is bought by his wife and is incarcerated in a cage. The entire setting of the story then takes place within the house, that once used to be the home of this jealous husband. However, the irony of the situation is that the position of his cage is such that he is only able to see part of the bedroom. He can see every man enter and exit his house but can not see any activity that takes place in the bedroom, which adds to his frustration and his curiosity. The narrator expresses his frustration, explaining: ‘When she keeps the bedroom door open I can see the space at the foot of the bed but not the bed itself. That I can sense to the left, just out of sight. I watch the men go in and I hear the sounds but I can't quite see. And they drive me crazy’ (Butler).
These frustrations and the inner conflict of the narrator are cleverly portrayed by the writer, for he not only uses the point of view of the parrot but also gives a humanistic element to the narration. While the parrot has all the qualities and limitations of a bird, the narration of the parrot is altogether human.
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