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Richard Ford's Optimists - Research Paper Example

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A Literary Analysis of Richard Ford's "Optimists" The short story ‘Optimists’ was written by Richard Ford in 1987. The narrator and protagonist of the story is Frank Brinson who tells about his teenage years and how his family fell apart. The whole story is about adolescent disillusions and family disintegration (John, 2011) and revolves around a single event (David, 2011)…
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Download file to see previous pages Despite of having the hunch that his employers at railways might cut him loose first when the ‘time’ comes, he didn’t do much about it. He was supposed to make a concrete contingency plan about reserve job opportunity but he didn’t and thought that bad times won’t see him. Probably this is what Ford has strangely called optimism. Ford doesn’t impose his opinion on the readers. He uses a lot of ‘not sure’ tone while describing Frank’s father. It was probably the social norm that back in the 50s and 60s, children-parent relationship was not very open as much it is these days. That is why a lot of guess work is put in the story when Ford says about his father that he ‘must’ve felt’ threatened because of adverse working environment. In fact, he is not sure if his father actually felt threatened by diseases that his co-workers were getting. Another social aspect this short story speaks a lot about how unwelcoming incidents become circus for the whole world to see. People would want to avoid such situations in which they become the center of attention for acquaintances as well as complete strangers for some hideous reasons. In the story, when Boyd accidently gets killed by Roy, Dorothy (Frank’s mom) calls the police and they arrive at the scene with their car lights flashing. As the narrator illustrates, he sees people and children standing outside their homes looking at their house where all the commotion is going on. Frank can see familiar as well as strange faces among the crowd and that’s when his mother says that their family has become a circus for everyone to see, they need to move to some other place. It has become a social norm, not only in North America but all over the world that people start judging others without looking at the facts of an incident. People are judgmental in nature and on top of that, they would act exactly according to their personal and wrongful judgment. One crucial aspect pointed out in this story is the politics that goes on at work places between the union and administration, especially back in 1950s. Politically, there is another scenario that has been discussed in this literary piece where Frank quotes his father as saying that the place he worked at (the railways) was a ‘workman’s paradise’ by the opportunities and leniency given to the workers there. It is a sad coincidence that many people consider what they are doing only because they feel safe or most probably ignore the threats and risks involved. If something’s working, they assume that it will keep working smoothly forever. Despite the fact that Frank’s father had the idea of featherbedding will be eliminated, he didn’t do anything about it. The social perspective that speaks volumes about the life of a teenager is when Frank Brinson, the narrator describes how the incident in which his father accidently kills Boyd Mitchell affects his life, “In a way none of us could ever have imagined in our most brilliant dreams of life” (p. 181). Another indirect mention in the story is Frank’s parent’s betrayal and failure to cope with the whole situation. His mother tries to justify the whole situation by, “You’ll never get anything fixed just right.” Probably it refers to the most popular social excuse that people come up with. It gives them the liberty to not try hard enough to fix things. Another social reflection in this story ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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