Losing a close relative is something no one is ever really prepared for. It is as well different from individual to individual how you react to the loss of a dear one. On the one hand, you would like to remember them and still let them be a part of your life but on the other hand, you have to move on for the sake of yourself. Living in the past has never proved useful. Many experience this dilemma thus many struggle to decide when the time is to return to the daily life and continue living.
This is a painful time Sometimes, the loss of beloved ones can be so heartbreaking that you might still see them in your daily life despite the fact that they are already dead. This could give you the comfort of them still being around, while you can still carry out conversations and feel like they are alive. The protagonist, Annie, experiences this supernatural situation in the short story “No Angel” written by Bernie McGill in 2011.
The story is told in a first person narrative with a limited point of view, where the reader has full access to the protagonist’s thoughts, however because we are dealing with a first person narrator, we do not hear the story from a different perspective. Thus first person narrators can debatably be defined as unreliable. Another aspect of using a first person narrator is that the reader is able to identify oneself with the protagonist because the reader is basically inside her head.
The loss of a family member is a devastating situation, which many can relate to. In this short the period of time does not pass in the traditional chronological order where event A is followed by event B. The story includes nothing but flashbacks. Instead of introducing the characters in the beginning the author has chosen to use in medias res which is an effect where the story begins in the middle of an important event. This method is often used in short stories because of the length limitation on the short story genre.
This story begins with a long flashback in which you find out about the first time the main character sees her father after his passing. As soon as this flashback is concluded the reader is brought straight into another flashback. This is very typical for this short story as we jump from one flashback into another one throughout the whole story. In these constant flashbacks you learn about the important characters and events that has taken place. You do not learn much about the other characters in the story besides what the protagonist describes.
You are told about her father, whom she refers to as ‘’Daddy’’ and her mother, whom she refers to as ‘’Mum. ’’ The two other characters you hear about in the story are Robbie, the main character’s brother, and Thomas, the ex-boyfriend. The three family members “daddy”, “mum”, and Robbie have all passed away and are no longer a part of the main character’s life. Thomas is still alive, but not together with Annie anymore. The narrator mostly describes the characters through their actions. The main character seems like a very lonely person.
In the flashbacks she is never together with any friends. She does not have any contact with anyone apart from her dead father, who shows up in her mind from time to time. Even though it is never really indicated that she is sad or lonely, it is a very plausible reason that she sees her father becauset she never got over his death. She must have shared a strong bond with her father, which would make sense, since they were together for nearly 22 years after the tragic deaths of her mother and brother.
She can as well be described as an insecure person with very low self-esteem, because she used to admire Robbie’s boldness and high level of confidence, which was something she always lacked. This is also the reason why she fell for Thomas in the first place. He had some of the same boldness and confidence that she admired in her brother. The supernatural elements play a part in the short story and they give the text an uncanny feel to it. E. g. when the protagonist sees her father for the first time after his death she notices that the growth on his face had now turned into a scar.
This tells the reader that the father’s body has continued living and functioned even though he has been dead. We are not told why the protagonist has conversations with her deceased father. That is up to the reader to interpret. A possible interpretation is that the loneliness and difficulties in coping with her family being dead makes the protagonist create these supernatural encounters inside her own mind. The title of the story mentions a supernatural element, angels. An interpretation of the title could be that it is a reference to her dad not being an angel.
The father’s appearances brings nothing but negative comments with him, and therefore the father might be labeled as “No Angel”. A different interpretation could be that the protagonist does not need an angel anymore in the end. She does not need her father to be an angel or her guardian angel anymore. Annie’s mind is divided, where one part of her is trying to move on from her family’s death and live her own life. In the last paragraph you see an example of this when Annie asks her father if he will leave her alone now.
On the other hand, she desperately needs her family because of her aforementioned insecurities. You could even interpret the last line “You know where we are”1 as an encouragement for her to join the rest of the family in heaven by committing suicide. This way she will not be lonely, and instead she will be reunited with her family. The overall theme that the author is trying to get across is that time heals all wounds. Everyone has people that they love very much, people that they cannot imagine being gone forever one day.
Death is, for many, the biggest fear, however it is also the one thing in life that is certain. Everyone dies eventually. What is important is to remember to love our friends and family, and cherish every moment with them. When they die there is nothing to do about it. People cannot spend the rest of their lives suffering from something that is the most natural thing in life. It is important to remember them but it is also a necessity to overcome the pain and continue living our own lives and try to be as happy as we can be. That is what they would want us to be