The short story, “Downturn” by Jeremy Lanaway focuses on a conflict between protagonists that hide painful truths. The author conveys this conflict with the theme of deception and is shown throughout the short story with the use of roles, actions, and character’s habits.
The author depicts the theme of deception with the use of characters and their roles in the short story. The protagonist, Dan plays the role of someone who is content with his current life contrary to how he actually feels, "I like being outside all day not having a douche boss not looking over my shoulder all day [...] I should’ve gotten out of the real estate game a long time ago. Being a pool guy- that’s where’s at’’ (78). The protagonist tries to deceive not only himself, but his acquaintance Pete that he is fulfilled with his career and life choices. Dan not only plays the false role of someone who is happy with his current situation, but takes on the role of being a friend despite difficult circumstances, "’ 'What about Amy? ' Dan says. 'She got to be - what - three by now? ' 'Not quite. Her birthday’s on Saturday. ' 'Make sure you wish her happy birthday from me. ' [...] 'Isn’t it fucked up, man? [...] 'How fast they grow up. '’’ (80). Dan deceives once again not only himself, but also Pete by giving the illusion, that they are still friends by bringing up the past. Dan’s deceitful ways help him gain control of his inner thoughts, which he manipulates by persuasively convincing himself that he is in fact content of his lifestyle. He plants the idea into his own thoughts and Pete’s, that they were old friends, but they remain as acquaintances.
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...ims: “I drink a few beers whenever I get the urge to snort a line” (81). It is hard to make out if Dan was being sarcastic, or he has not yet recovered from his addictions. Dan’s negative habits with drugs caused his life to take a down turn leaving him to lie to himself to get away from his true reality. Dan will do anything to convince himself that he is happy contrary to how he actually feels.
All in all, Lanaway’s theme of deception is interpreted through the characters, Dan & Pete and their actions, habits and roles in the short story. They have portrayed the theme by pretending to be happy with their life situations and going to the extent of lying to try and convince others. The author creates a very complex story, the message creates an important concept that lying and being deceitful is a vicious cycle that never ends unless the core problem is dealt with.
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