The School By Donald Barthelme Essays

The School By Donald Barthelme Essays

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The School by Donald Barthelme is a short story that proposes the significance of life in front of its reader in the most absurd way possible. Fiction is a story that is not true whereas non-fiction is a tale based on real time. But what genre would best suit this short story by Donald? A fiction because it seems so unrealistic and depressing or a nonfiction because it conveys the true message of life through unusual occurrences of the deaths and life. The School should be considered a non-fiction because it states death is inevitable, life is unpredictable and love is all we need.
Firstly, the title “The School “followed by a light beginning where the author mentions the planting of trees, being responsible and considerate gives readers an impression of a typical classroom where the children are being educated about the plant system, values like being caring and responsible. But then with a sudden shift in tone, the author mentions, “And the trees all died”, “the snakes all died” and continues to mention the never ending death cycle of the gerbils, the white mice, the salamander and the tropical fish. It could be argued that how insensitive a school could be to teach the children about the deaths. How could a school not think about all the damage seriously and justify it as the cause of over watering and keeping them in plastic bags? I mean yes, the children are depressed but the writer seems so inconsiderate that he uses phrases likes the snakes kicked off, the tropical fish was expected to die. Although the increasing number of deaths are very depressing but maybe the lines “it happens every year, you just have to hurry past it” are trying to stress on the fact that death is an inevitable cycle of life and all the living being...


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...ity of death, the unpredictability of life the only thing left is love, and Edgar is their only hope. It was only after Edgar and Helen made love the gerbil arrived and kids got excited and all the sadness was gone. I believe the writer wants to reflect the power love through Edgar and Helen and the gerbil signifies the happiness and excitement that comes along with love.
To sum up, the story beautifully served its purpose of engaging the readers in the fascinating real world, making them question themselves, and compel them to think and rethink. The death, life, and love mentioned throughout the story although in a strange way are all real life events and it would be appropriate to consider it a nonfiction.

Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” 40 Short Stories: A Portable Anthology. Third Edition. Ed. Beverly Lawn. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009: 118-161. Print.

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