Eric Caswell technically does not appear in the story. Readers learn about him only through comments the other two characters make about him. Sheila talks more about Eric than the narrator does and is flattered by Eric’s complimentary remarks about her. She tells the narrator that Eric owns a fancy car and has told her she has the right looks to become a model. Eric obviously has gained Sheila’s attention through his flattery and because of his status as a college (older) boy who also has money. In the end, Eric wins the honor of taking Sheila home in his car, sparing her the more unusual trip via the river with the narrator. In many ways Eric is the complete opposite of the narrator.
Although Sheila makes only a brief appearance in this story and has little to say, she appears to be a major character because the protagonist is so focused on her throughout the narrative. Sheila is a . . . Read More
Wetherell’s short story ‘‘The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant’’ takes place in August (sometime in the 1960s) on the shores of a New England river that runs between New Hampshire and Vermont. The narrator of the story is an unnamed fourteen-year-old who is spending his summer vacation with his family at a cabin. Next door is the girl of the narrator’s dreams, seventeen-year-old Sheila Mant. The Mant family celebrates the summer with parties, which the narrator longs to join. His family is not as social as the Mants, and his parents think the Mants are too flamboyant. This does not keep the narrator from sneaking out at night to observe the festivities taking place next door, which fuels the narrator’s fantasies of capturing Sheila’s heart.
Sheila is used to a lot of attention. Though the narrator has a crush on her, he describes her as being ‘‘all but out of reach.’’ Much of the narrator’s day is spent studying Sheila, especially when she is . . . Read More
While serving a prison term for armed robbery, Piri Thomas realized that what he had become was not who he was born to become. Moreover, he still had plenty of time to turn his life around and make something of himself. He encouraged himself to strive for better, and he found his writing voice. Since then, he has used his life and his career to make a positive impact on his family and his community. He has worked with prisoners, youth, and children, motivating them to find the best path they can find for their lives. He brings hope and wisdom to those who need it, and he is able to speak from experience and personal struggle. One of the ways he reaches out to people is through his stories, such as ‘‘Amigo Brothers,’’ a short story in his 1978 collection. In the story, two teenage boys who love boxing and love each other like brothers must face off in a championship boxing match. It puts their determination and friendship to the test. Set in Spanish Harlem, the story has not . . . Read More
Thomas pays such close attention to the setting of ‘‘Amigo Brothers’’ that it becomes a prominent part of the story. He is specific in letting the reader know—in the very first paragraph—that this story takes place in a particular area of New York City. He goes so far as to tell the reader in which tenement building Antonio and Felix live. The address of the Boys Club is given, as are the locations for two other gyms. These are the places the main characters frequent to exercise and practice boxing. Even when the boys go running, Thomas lets the reader know that they are running along East River Drive, and that the edge of the river is dirty. When they stop to talk, Felix leans on a railing and looks across at Brooklyn. In a poignant moment on the night before the fight, Antonio is on a rooftop. Thomas describes the sights and sounds around Antonio. Even the neighborhood toughs and the throngs of boxing fans are described, so . . . Read More
The main theme of ‘‘Amigo Brothers’’ is friendship, and Thomas starts to build it from the beginning. By the end of the first paragraph, the reader knows that Antonio and Felix consider themselves brothers because they have been such good friends for so long. The reader also knows that the two boys are from the same neighborhood and thus have a similar cultural background and upbringing. The reader soon learns that the boys also share a passion for boxing, and they train together and encourage each other as athletes. Boxing is important common ground in their friendship—they train together daily—and it keeps them out of trouble and focused on the positive.
When the inevitable time comes that these two accomplished boxers must face each other in a championship bout, they are both concerned about the fight affecting their friendship. Although they have both dreamed of becoming world champions, the opportunity to . . . Read More
Antonio is seventeen years old and is Felix’s best friend. Like Felix, Antonio is a great boxer who loves to train. He and Felix both have a dream of becoming world-famous boxing champions. Antonio is described as ‘‘fair, lean, and lanky,’’ with hair that falls over his eyes. He has avoided all the negative influences of his neighborhood, such as gangs and drugs, and is instead focused on boxing. Not only does he train himself as an athlete, but he reads about boxing and boxers, and he really knows the sport. As a boxer, he has proven himself over and over in competition, and he has a fan base in his community. He is known for his excellent boxing skills and ability to use his speed and height in a match.
The most important relationship for Antonio is his friendship with Felix. No other friends or family are mentioned in the story, and he is careful to preserve this important relationship. Felix helps him stay . . . Read More
The main characters of ‘‘Amigo Brothers,’’ Antonio and Felix, are seventeen years old, best friends, and serious about boxing. The narrator describes how the boys have known each other since childhood and consider themselves more brothers than friends. Despite their closeness, the two boys are very different in appearance and in fighting style. But they share the common dream of someday being the lightweight boxing champion of the world. They train together, work out together, and encourage each other.
Although many boys their age are caught up in the negative aspects of life on the streets, Antonio and Felix keep their minds and lifestyles positive. They are more interested in reading fighting magazines, watching matches, and being experts on all the fighters than gangs or drugs. As fighters themselves, they have both won many matches and represented their community well. They are proud of themselves and their roots.
The narrator explains that . . . Read More
As a poet, and indeed as a person, Sexton was primarily concerned with telling stories. Diane Middlebrook begins her book Anne Sexton: A Biography with an account of Sexton’s press interviews, in which Sexton was usually asked to explain how she began writing poetry. Every time, she answered that question using many of the same facts and even many of the same phrases, as if she were improvising on a prepared script and changing it to suit the needs or expectations of the audience. Most interesting, however, was the form the story took. The story she told in answer to the question was based on the fairy tale of Snow White. The wicked queen became Sexton’s mother, her poisoned apple the pressure of society for her to conform to a conventional life as a wife and mother in the Boston suburbs. The poisoned sleep became her suicide attempts, from which she was awakened not by the kiss of a handsome prince but by psychotherapy and its manifestation in poetry. Living ‘‘happily ever . . . Read More
Sexton’s ‘‘Young’’ consists of a single sentence extended over twenty-three lines of verse. It takes the form of a reminiscence of a summer evening in the narrator’s childhood. It is spoken in the voice of a first-person narrator, but this speaker should not be simply equated with the author herself. Although this voice seems to mediate Sexton’s memories and experiences, the reader must not lose sight of the fact that the speaker is a fictive creation of Sexton’s and is in no way bound to report the objective reality of Sexton’s life.
The narrator ranges over memories of the subjective perception of a particular evening of her youth. She begins by emphasizing a more than natural barrier of time between her present and past. The memories themselves consist of vivid sensory impressions and end with an unresolved questioning of cosmic powers before finally stressing the physical changes of puberty the narrator was experiencing at that . . . Read More
Sir Philip Sidney’s ‘‘Ye Goatherd Gods’’ is a pastoral poem written impressively as a double sestina. Sidney wrote the poem as part of The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia (a long work that includes prose, poetry, and other forms, often shortened to Arcadia), all for the entertainment of his younger sister, with whom he was staying at the time. ‘‘Ye Goatherd Gods’’ is, from a content point of view, fairly straightforward. Two shepherds, Strephon and Klaius, are suffering from heartbreak in being absent from Urania, whom they both love desperately. From a characterization and emotional standpoint, the poem does not stray far from this basic theme of longing.
There are other elements of the poem, however, by which Sidney adds complexity. The form of the poem, to be sure, is very sophisticated and complicated, yet the poem itself does not suffer from the constraints of the form. There are subtle differences in the characterizations of the two shepherds, . . . Read More