02

While reading these three essays, I noticed similar writing tools.  The use of a narrative tone is apparent in all three writings.  In each story, the author uses a specific event to illustrate an intrapersonal change or development.  

In “Westbury Court” by Edwidge Danticourt, the event would be the fire resulting in her awareness of the world around her.  David Sedaris writes in “Full House” about a sleepover where he attained a confidence that he had lacked before, especially relating to his sexuality.  And “The Test” by Scott Carter touches upon his job interacting with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia which seemingly unleashed his own personal demons.  

In the newest reading, Scott Carter writes about interviewing patients as part of a larger study.  His job was to “drive around the state, through the small towns, searching out individuals who are often transient and prone to hiding.”  This piece of writing takes the reader on quite an alarming ride as Scott seems to lose his own grip on reality.  He mentions his wife leaving him and taking the children and that being a reason why he accepted the position.  We read about several different interviewees and their trials and tribulations behind their disease.  One even seemed to turn the tables on Scott, instead interviewing him.  The subject steers Scott towards a crystal hidden in his pocket, asking Scott is he would like to see it.  “I can look through this and it will tell me whether you’re a good person or not”, he says.  

At the end of the story, Scott answers the interview questions himself.  In each summarization of his life, it seems to get more grim.  They are told in chronological order, starting with his wife having left three weeks prior, then two months, and then three months.  In each description of his life at each time, he seems to crack a little more.  Before his wife leaves him, we even see a glimpse into his mental stability at that time.  Scott writes that he “Tore out all the walls and ceilings, all the lath and plaster, right down to the studs” in order to “live like a primitive.”  A sane man would not destroy the home that he and his family reside in.  That would be against the norms of society and would not be a safe environment for people to occupy.  It leaves the reader to question the state of mind he was in at that time.  Two months after his wife leaving, he “says there’s a darkness that separates him from other people.”  That, too, is an unsettling revelation.  And even at three months alone, Scott claims he is doing better.  He even has been fishing, a relatively normal activity.  But the reveal of his gutting fish and studying the bugs that they had digested shocks the reader.  He claims “he’s okay now, and that it was the fly rod, just holding the rod in his hand, that cured him.”  Again, he proves that he is still not okay.  

I believe all three stories use a personal experience that happened at a critical turning point in their lives.  Two were at adolescence, and turned out to be somewhat positive experiences as both learned and matured.  But Scott Carter’s story was a little more sad, as he was already a grown man who then fell apart.  While his wife leaving him was obviously catastrophic, I feel like his job interviewing schizophrenics made him aware that he himself was not well.  

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