Grief is individual because everyone handles his or her sorrows differently. No one wants to be alone and therefore to loose someone you love can be tremendously painful and difficult to overcome. On the one hand you want to get liberated from the pain and loss. You try to compensate from it by forgetting. Others want to keep the memory of the ones they have lost, because they fear the loneliness, and thereby find it challenging letting them go because death is so hard to accept.
That is the reason why people find other ways to keep the memory of a lost person, like pretending they see the dead as ghosts or angels. This paradox and theme is presented in the short story ‘’No Angel,’’ written by Bernie McGill in 2010, where our main character deals with the loneliness and grief. The short story is told in first person narrative in a limited point of view.
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We see the events through our main characters eyes, who’s name we are not told, which gives us a specific and circumstantial information about her thoughts.
The disadvantage of this kind of narration is that we only get one point of view and thereby the main character can be essentially unreliable, and important information and happenings can be omitted from the story, but in this case it has no influence on the plot because of the composition in this short story. The composition is jumping in time with flashbacks and flash-forwards. Some of the telling is streams of consciousness, and for that reason the chronological order has been unregulated. As an extension of this, the author tributes the short story in media res, where the story starts in an important and pivotal event.
In this first event, which is a flash back in time, our main character is meeting her father for the first time after his death. Here he appears in the bathroom small talking with the main character. The specified and detailed description of the father tells us that the daughter knows everything about her father, from top to toe. Thereby it tells that she was very close to him and to substantiate it ‘’I looked at him, at the thin white hair curling at the back of his neck […] the earth under his fingernails.
’’ Subsequently we jump immediately into another flashback, which is very characteristic for a short story to do. In this passage we learn a little more about our main characters family, which includes the mother, brother, father and daughter. This event also indicates the importance of flashbacks and jumping in time, because it gives an overall picture of the themes, the message and the characters in the short story, but also it intensify the excitement and interest which leads to the climax in the last subsection of the telling. The gallery of characters is heavily increased.
We hear about the main character’s brother, Robbie, who is very confident but impudent, a character the protagonist admires in a way, because of her introspectiveness. Then there is her boyfriend, later on ex-boyfriend, Thomas, who also has a very strong-willed and confident personality as seen in this quote ‘’I think it was Thomas’s confidence I fell for. […] If I’m honest, he reminded me of Robbie. ’’ The protagonist is very drawn by this trait of character the two men are in possession of because she is just the opposite, insecure and depended.
Also we hear about the mother, but physically it is only the father and the main character herself, who appears in the story. Both her brother, mother and father are dead excluding Thomas. The characters are described implicit based on their actions through the main characters point of view. The main character appears like a very lonely person, and the only one she is in contact with, after the breakup with Thomas, is the ghost of her father, who is most certain a hallucination.
We do not directly receive the information that the main character is lonely but from the fact that she has lost hole her family and she sees her dead father, indicates that she misses her family and needs someone to talk to, and maybe is experiencing some sort of depression or worse a psychological illness. The supernatural happenings are connected with the composition. The father’s ghost is appearing in almost every section. He shows up unpredictable but she is not scared or confused by his appearing. In the middle of the story the main character is asking her father, ‘’Daddy, do you ever see…?
‘’ but unfortunately he vanishes before she gets to ask him. By this she is referring to the rest of her family, which confirms her missing the rest of the family. Even though she has spent more or less twenty years alone with her father and it seems like the loss do not affect her much she is devastated, which leads us to the last episode of the short story. Here the protagonist sees her father for the last time, and he has brought her brother and mother with him. This gives the main character some sort of clarification and thereby tells her father, ‘’will you leave me alone now?
’’ With this she means that she is ready to let go of her family and live on. With the word ‘’you,’’ she could easily refer to the ‘’grief’’ and ‘’pain’’ she is feeling, and thereby asking if it is okay to let these feelings go. She needs her family because of her insecurities and dependence, which is why she is holding on to the memory of her father and therefore sees him everywhere. By saying the sentence ‘’will you leave me alone now,’’ she also shows a very independed and resolute person and thereby shows a great development, which is very typical in this genre.
This leads us to the title ‘’No Angel. ’’ First of all it refers to these supernatural happenings in the short story, second of all the title indicates the theme, to get over your sorrows, and the dilemma between forgetting or remembering the lost ones. Also this sentence tell us something about the title, ‘’you know where we are. ’’ It tells that our protagonist does not want to admit that her family is dead, but when she sees them all in the theatre, she let them go and let them be the angels watching over her from heaven, and thereby moves on.
To loose someone is the most difficult thing in life. Some wants to forget, when others want to remember. Some might fail in both. But one thing is certain; you must move on and continue your life. Time heals all wounds. We are born to die and people around us will sooner or later pass away. Therefore we have to love and cherish our beloved ones when they are around because one day we might loose them. We have to remember them but also overcome the pain in our hearts.