Mary-Beth Hughes' Israel – Glorifying the Common Occurrence

Mary-Beth Hughes' Israel – Glorifying the Common Occurrence

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Mary-Beth Hughes' Israel – Glorifying the Common Occurrence        

Mary-Beth Hughes' short story titled "Israel" is a rich literary piece.
Every detail within the story has some sort of meaning and is there for a
reason. When analyzed, this story has a lot to say, however, when
summarized, the storyline is rather simple. The story contains five
characters, the mother, the father, their daughter, and the mother's
friends, Dr. Derek Duncalf and Dr. Dan Ovita. The time period is unknown,
except that it is during a time when Isralies are fighting to keep their
homeland. The narration of the story is first person persona told by the
daughter throughout. The setting is a house in London in which the mother is
living with her daughter. The father lives in a bachelor pad just down the
street. The storyline is that of a dysfunctional family in which the mother
lives with her daughter, and the father has resorted to a separate house
down the street. Dr. Duncalf is motivated to have a relationship with the
mother, while Duncalf's friend, Dr. Ovita, is a pleasant man who is able to
fix the daughter's problems by letting her come to Israel with him. The
daughter communicates with her parents by mail, and in each reply her father
signs it saying, "our love." The short story summarized above illustrates
that life is not perfect, and people must make hard decisions in order to
make their life happy, satisfying, and acceptable to them.

The characters in this short story all show verisimilitude, making them
major characters. Each one has his or her own personality, therefore making
them round characters and not minor characters. This story, like most
literature, contains more than just the details on top. Within the basic
story lies oppositions, paradoxes, symbols, conflicts, complexities,
ambiguities, tensions, as well as ironies; and each one contributes to what
the reader can make of and associate with the story.

The title of the story, "Israel," is relating to where the daughter moved
to. The country of Israel is also where Dr. Ovita is from, and where he
doctors the soldiers. Israel in itself represents a country that is
currently fighting. They are fighting for themselves and fighting for their
freedom. This associates with the story in a way that each character is
doing what ever he or she has to do in order to be happy.

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After reading the story a few times, complexities just came jumping off the
pages. The first opposition noticeable in the story was the wealth of Dr.
Duncalf matched up against the financially hurting mother. Dr. Duncalf is an
anesthesiologist and represents the money he makes in what he gives the
mother. First he gives her vanilla candles, representing purity, romance, as
well as money. As time goes on, he sends her huge bouquets of flowers,
representing his wealth as well. The mother put the candles in her silver
holders on the chandelier, which expresses her thanks as the silver
represents what she sees as one of her prized possessions. The mother seems
to be happy with everything. She doesn't complain because she doesn't see
anything wrong in her life, as opposed to the daughter who is gaining weight
daily because of the effects on her father leaving. This creates opposition
between the mother and her daughter, as well as what seems to be a paradox,
which is that this mother is as upbeat as one can be, yet her supposed
husband has left her, and her daughter is depressed. The reason I use
"supposed husband," is because the word father is an ambiguity. There is
nothing within the story saying that the couple is actually married.
Although I assume they are married, we have no proof that they were not just
involved in a relationship together in which they gave birth to their
daughter. When Dr. Duncalf is pleading to make love with the mother, he
represents male sexuality. Out of his wanting to have sex, we see conflict
when the mother shows tender love towards him, but she still turns down any
sexual activity. Dr. Duncalf, like a little kid, just keeps on trying. The
mother likes to dress up in exotic clothes, attire that creates the image of
a prostitute. Although she doesn't seem to be an actual prostitute, her
daughter does tell us that men keep coming to her; which creates the image
of the mother being a sex object. When Dr. Ovita comes over for the first
time, the mother makes a nice fire in the marble fireplace. Once again there
is an opposition at hand; the family is not wealthy, yet they have the
possessions of a wealthy family as illustrated with the marble fireplace.
The night Dr. Ovita comes over, he catches the daughters attention enough to
make her forget about her father walking by. The irony within this event is
that Dr. Ovita must either be of equal liking or better than this girl's
father, because this is the first time she has ever forgotten to look for
him. What Dr. Ovita says sticks in the girl's mind. She sees him as somebody
she would like to marry someday. One morning the father comes over to get
his blue tie, a tie that would symbolize a blue collar worker and an average
guy, not a doctor. He is astounded after seeing his wife in bed with another
man, which is a sign of how much he still cares for the woman, but also the
reason why he moved out. The daughter acts in a way that makes it obvious
that this has happened before, and leaves the house for school. When she
leaves the note in Dr. Ovita's pocket, it is an implication that she is
ready to get away from home. She goes to Israel and is very happy with her
new life, which creates the image of self-satisfaction, which each character
in this story is striving to reach.

Although "Israel," the story, is not all there, it generally comes to the
reader because it is a story representing a common event. Reader response is
necessary in order to put meaning to some areas, and therefore the reader
must infer from his or her own experiences in order to understand. Reader
response is necessary in areas such as deciding why the mother tends to beat
her daughter whenever her father leaves after visiting the house. Perhaps
the daughter told her father about all the affairs that the mother has been
having; or maybe the mother beats her daughter because she is the only
reason that her parents didn't separate a long time ago. The mother in a way
seems to be projecting onto the daughter all the responsibility of the
family, considering the daughter always appears to be the one at fault. One
thing "Israel" represented to me was relationships, because several
different kinds were displayed. The daughter has a caring relationship
towards her mother and father throughout the story. The fathers relationship
with the mother is rather unstable, because there never appears to be love
expressed between the two. The man still loves his daughter, but she often
gives him bad news and therefore he tries to isolate himself from her as
well. Dr. Duncalf appears to want the mother for sex, He does not love her
for who she is, but rather for what she has, which would be her body. The
daughter sees Dr. Duncalf as a man that is really nothing special, just
another guy trying to get with her mother. This makes the daughter distant
to the man and rather ignorant as well. The daughter sees Dr. Ovita as a
warm, truthful, helping man, and is therefore in amazement over what he has
to offer.

The story "Israel" is a story within itself. Even though on top the story
has its own personal meaning, deep down it follows that of a common
storyline. In a way it is like a persons life. Everybody has their own life
in which they embark on, yet from an overall perspective, our lives are all
alike in many noticeable ways. Everybody goes through childhood in a similar
fashion, for example, liking sweets and playing with friends. Then people
grow up and must get a job to support themselves, and in the end every life
comes to an end in one way or another. So although two people could have
completely opposite lifestyles, overall they share the same experiences. The
plot of Israel, just like that of most literature, shares key psychological
patterns. The mother uses isolation to isolate the break up of her and her
supposed husband, as she goes on and finds new partners without feeling any
remorse. The father is just trying to get the girls off his mind and start a
new life. With this we also see repression because the father is selectively
trying to forget about what is troubling him, his past. In a way the father
also uses projection because he denies thoughts and feelings by attributing
them to the mother and daughter. He is basically basing all his problems on
them, and isn't able to come up with any solution besides moving out.

Displacement is present in both the mother and the daughter. The daughter
shifts her emotion from her father, to Dr. Ovita, while the mother seems to
shift her emotion to Dr. Duncalf, or any other men she has had over in the
past. The daughter's displacement is more obvious as we see her go from
depressed, to interested and happy. The mother on the other hand never seems
to show any depressed feelings over the split up of her and the girls
father, so perhaps she displaces her feelings into these men. Better yet,
there seems to be denial by the mother. She is in denial of herself being
the reason for the split up, and therefore believes her own lies and does
not feel any remorse. Denial is also addressed when the mother thinks of
herself in a wealthy setting with her vanilla candles poised above the
marble fireplace. She is as happy as can be, yet her living conditions are
those of a low income family that can't even afford a decent looking sofa.
Reaction formation relates to the denial of the mother with not feeling
guilty about the breakup of her supposed marriage. With her obsessive kind
of denial, she reverses the truth and says that the girls father left them
implying that it was his fault and not hers. When these stages are all
conjoined to make one story, the piece is obviously meant to be a fulfilling
story which addresses reality, making it more believable to the reader.

This short story was an interesting piece to take apart. It contained both
simple meaning and complexities, making it into a complete piece. Certain
areas of the story were open for interpretation, giving the story line more
than one path to go by. Every sentence adds to what the reader is able to
see and comprehend as far as this particular story goes, but overall the
theme is clearly that of a couple separated with a kid stuck in the middle.

This piece just glorifies the common occurrence with the verisimilitude of
each character making the story come to life for the reader. The characters
within the story are a good example of reality when it comes to people being
motivated to achieve happiness no matter what approach it may take. This
story does a good job of taking an old overused theme, and turning it into
an exciting, thought provoking piece to read.
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