The Different Faces of Grief Essay

The Different Faces of Grief Essay

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Our bodies were weary from the excitement, multiple sugar overdoses and physical excertions post Labour Day weekend. An unexpected change was on the horizon. Swimming, building forts, fishing, joyful family camp fires, and reeking havoc defined our life at the cottage. I loved it there. One last sleep. Staring at the ceiling I remember thinking grade two was one day away. Argh! How could my life be over? What do I do now? “Shhhhh!!!!” … laughter … soft voices … someone was on the front porch. Quickly rolling out of bed I peered through my mother’s hand-made strawberry patterned curtains. Blinded by summers last incandescant full moon, its rays kissed the ripples of water parading luminescent diamonds as the backdrop. I saw my father’s arms around my mothers waist “Mummy, you are still the most beautiful girl after twenty one years. I love you”. They cooed like two doves, their silhouette faces touched. It would be the last time I would see them embrace. He died on the first day of school.
“Summer rain is still the most comforting sound that I know. I like to pretend it’s our dead mother’s fingers, drumming on the ceiling above us. (3)” Depicting the ireperable loss of her mother, and concealed feelings of sorrow, twelve year old Ava Bigtree is the protagonist in Karen Russell’s dramatic prose “Ava Wrestles the Aligator”. Ava, lures readers into the perils of wrestling with alligators unanimously named “Seth” and exotic bird estuaries within the fun, eccentric world of Swampladia! (1). Beneath Ava’s charasmatic veneer a different kind of story is unravling. Swamplandia! signifies the mortal remainder of memory and unification with her deceased mother. Ava’s voice evokes her physchological and emotional regression into the mag...

... middle of paper ...

...sell deliberately choose Ava’s multi-dimensional name to symbolize her role as the “bird” in the estuary and the strongest linchpin between the living and the dying, namely, her families demise. When she learns of her sisters plot to commit suicide, Ava rushes to rescue her sister “When I break free of the trees and make for the pond, my whole body primed for fight, there is no visible adversary to wrestle with.” As Ava charges (24) into the water she faces death head on and “wrestles the alligator” Ossie.
As Russell’s dramatic prose comes to a close, Ava decribes that the undoubted pain associated with death and mourning of a parent eventually resolves; consequently the initmate knowledge of grief remains imbedded in ones life forever “As if something were still clawing at her from within, pushing outwards, a pressure that is trying to break the skin.(25)”

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