Essay on Literary Analysis of Two Short Stories from Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

Essay on Literary Analysis of Two Short Stories from Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

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Jesus’ Son Analysis Essay
Eun Ju Oh

Drugs are known to be the shortcut to nefarious and decadent life. Jesus’ Son is a collection of stories containing vivid narrative about life as a drug addict. These stories are all told in first person narrative, which is perhaps one person who is suffering from poverty and drug addiction. They are seemingly disconnected but are all about the experience of drug addiction, working together under the theme of drug addiction and how it fragments people mentally and physically. “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” and “Work” both convey this theme by using abrupt tone and unique figurative language. However, “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” characterizes the protagonist more directly to reveal the fall of protagonist because of drug.
“Car Crash While Hitchhiking” and “Work” both follow the stream of consciousness of the narrator, which shows the influence of drug on people’s mentality. Both stories are confusing with the narrator moving around the time and place; it seems as if the narrator is talking about whatever comes into his mind without specific plot or message. In “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” the narrator talks about the family that picked him up, and suddenly switches to the story of him and salesman by saying “…But before any of this, that afternoon, the salesman and I …” (4) In “Work,” narrator says “And then came one of those moments,” (52) when he recalls a memory about his wife while talking about Wayne. Both stories shift abruptly without proper conjunction. In everyday lives, people think of numerous things. However, what they say are limited, as they talk consistently with a specific purpose, considering factors such as time, place, and appropriateness before they speak. On the other ha...

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...gonist will eventually destroy himself for drug and alcohol. Also, on page 54, narrator says “…but you were my mother.” just because she poured more drink than he paid for. Protagonist’s mental destruction is so severe that even a little more drink can make a stranger his mother. “Work” is more implicit in terms of showing the fall of drug addicts compared to “Car Crash While Hitchhiking.”
Drug leads to individual’s mental and physical collapse; “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” and “Work” both convey this by abrupt and confusing plot that follows narrator’s stream of consciousness, and unique figurative language. However, “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” delineates protagonist’s destruction more directly. Jesus’ Son provides readers with second hand experience of being high on drugs by unique tone and diction that emulates the experience of drug addicts almost perfectly.

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