Name Professor Date Draft: Reading between the Lines of a Modern-Day Story Reading between the lines is usually an effective strategy to fully understand a literary text. Characterization, theme, and narrative perspective are just some elements of a story that readers may infer through analyzing dialogues and narration…
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Therefore, to analyze it, readers are required to read between the lines of the text and to employ a different strategy. “The Ceiling” is an example of a modern-day story. According to Matz (77), a modern story or fiction is focused on revealing “aesthetic truths.” These realities are not the realities of life itself but are truths that the author sees and wants to project in the story. In revealing these truths, the author takes up a limited perspective, thus providing a “focused personal point of view” (Matz 55) that highlights the theme and purpose of the story. Therefore, to analyze the story fully, readers should first attempt to reveal the aesthetic truths by reading between the lines of the story. Second, the readers should note the boundaries of the personal point of view that the author uses to limit the readers’ perspective. Several lines reveal the aesthetic truths that Brockmeier wants to convey. However in reading the first part of the story, one could note the use of other elements that serve to embellish the story such as different characters, insightful event, and disruptive dialogues. In particular, the naming of characters in the birthday celebration of Joshua, the son of the narrator and the main character himself, may lead the readers to believe that the story is all about Joshua. Nevertheless, the statement, “This was a story” (Brockmeier 93) provides a hint that the initial scene is not as important as the next one. Thus, in the next scenario, Brockmeier reveals the characters and the scenes that could lead to the understanding of the text. In the next scene, Brockmeier introduces Mitch Nauman and the narrator’s wife, thus giving a hint that such characters are relevant in the story. However, due to naming other characters, it is still not clear who is given the real focus. The next few scenes, however, provide light to the question. The scenes with the wife provide a controversy that invites the readers to delve into the real conflict of the story. However, even though it is becoming clear that the wife causes the conflict, Brockmeier still controls the story by not revealing the conflict. Thus, he provides some scenes that reveal the problem with the narrator’s wife, Melissa. After Joshua’s birthday, the narrator describes how he feels about the night, saying, “the moon that night was bright and full, but after a while it began to seem damaged to me, marked by some small inaccuracy. It took me a moment to realize why this was: against its blank white surface was a square of perfect darkness” (94). These lines suggest a melancholic feeling, thus foreshadowing the lonesome situation that the narrator would encounter at the end. Likewise, he cites some peculiar encounters with Melissa such as uttering, “My life is a mess” (94) and crying the night after Joshua’s birthday, saying, “I just need to sleep” (96). These lines lead the readers to sense that after all, the focus of the story is not Joshua, his peculiar friends, or the observations that the narrator has on the personal lives of the people around him, but Melissa, and the problematic marriage that they share. Later, as the events supporting the conflict of the story are developed, the readers confirm the notion that the problem of the story is associated with the wife, whose behavior and dialogues have caused the narrator to feel a
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