Like a Winding Sheet

“Like a Winding Sheet” is a short story written by Ann Petry. It is centered around an African-American man, Johnson, in racism. In this story, Ann Petry not only describes the racism towards African-American men but the placement of the African-American woman also. It begins with the man in bed with his wife. Their relationship is described through dialogue and metaphors. It seems as if they have a healthy, loving relationship. As the day goes by, the man is constantly verbally abused by white women. His boss is a white woman who talks to him like he is trash and the woman at the coffee shop refuses to serve him after a long day of work. His frustration builds throughout the story. The greatest metaphor used in this story is in its title, a winding sheet. The winding sheet describes his emotions and the buildup of anger over time—winding and winding until it was time to release it all. The phrase “and he couldn’t bring himself to hit a woman” (Petry) is repeated throughout when he enters a racist situation with the white women. It is a belief that has been imprinted on him, and he tries to remind himself of it and who he is a person. Every time he is disrespected, he clutches his fists tighter and tighter until they cannot anymore. “They were clenched tight, hard, into fists” (Petry).

There were some aspects of the story that stood out to me. Petry frames the story in a way and has great character development. The story has a swift but steady pace. The structure shows how Johnson’s attitude and emotions were in the beginning and how they were in the end, which is a huge difference. Petry uses many forms of symbolization and the setting contributes to the plot of the story. This story relies heavily on the characters’ actions. Some examples of symbolism used are lipstick and a winding sheet. Some themes that this piece possesses is love, failure, femininity, patience, imprisonment, and racism. There is plenty of foreshadowing in the story that hints at the terrible ending. In a way, the encounters create misogyny in the main characters. Not necessarily a major presence of it but to some extent, his frustration with women grows more and more. By the end of the day, he has become fed up with his surroundings and lashes out.

Ultimately, this story’s core theme is racism. Ann Petry examines the effect on African-American men and women, specifically spouses. It makes me wonder if she has observed this in marriages or if she has experienced it herself. Overall, this story was a good read. The ending is upsetting but extremely thought-provoking. Through numerous metaphors and actions, Petry successfully develops round and vulnerable characters. While reading this the second time, I discovered the underlying message of freedom and loss of identity. The conflict is so complicated that I do not know how to feel about Johnson’s ending character. I definitely recommend this story, click here to read it.

“A Rose for Emily”

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is a short story centered around the life of a well-known town woman, Emily Grierson. Set in Mississippi, the story spans over 75 years. The Griersons are well known in the town of Jefferson, and quite frankly, Emily Grierson is admired by the town. This story is written in first person but uses pronouns such as we. The narrator is the town, and I have never read a story that had this point of view, so it was cool to read and worked very well. The story is divided into five sections.

Some interesting qualities about this short story is its structure, point of view, characters, conflict, and its frame. Choosing to use “we” instead of “I” made it feel like it was written from the town as a whole’s perspective. It also felt like they were responsible to tell her story like it was their duty. The town’s attitude towards Emily and her entire family tree is obvious throughout the story.

“When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years” (Faulkner).

This is the opening text of the story and instantly introduces you to the idea of the town people and Emily. It sets the foundation of the setting, a small country town where people see or claim to see everything. It also introduces that Miss Grierson is almost the town’s mystery.

There is a battle of old v new and North v South heavily present in this story. There are two interesting characters in the story and one of them is Emily Grierson. I find her to be an extremely complex and mysterious character. The town sees her as “a fallen monument” “duty.” I feel they see her this way because she represents the old ways of the setting. However, at the same time, she partially represents modern time. It talks a lot about the modern people coming in and changing things. Emily is also interesting because of her relationship with her father, which is very troubling and oppressing. He apparently ruins every relationship she’s in and is very strict and close-minded. She still loved him deeply however and depended on him. It was essentially an unhealthy relationship.

The structure of this essay works well because it introduces new information in each section. The only part I didn’t understand was where Faulkner decided to begin number two; it was very weird because it was still discussing a scene from part one.

The story begins and ends with death, hence the frame structure I mentioned earlier. The progression and changing of characters in the story is very well done. Overall, this was a nice short story. If you like twists and surprising endings, then this story is for you. Click here to read it.


Recently, I read a flash fiction titled “Possessions(s)”. It was about the aftermath of losing your wife, and I found it interesting because when I think of a widow, a woman automatically comes to my mind. So, I was enticed to read this flash fiction and discover how a man feels when they lose their significant other. The first line instantly drew me in because it was shocking and compelling. The “great first line” rule of flash fiction was definitely accomplished by this piece. There is not necessarily a progression of time in this flash fiction; time is left ambiguous. It does not let you know how long the wife has been dead or the time span between the beginning and end, which I liked very much. It made it easier to focus on the thoughts, emotions, and surroundings. This piece was very emotional and thought-provoking because it just made me wonder. I felt what the widow was feeling in every sentence, metaphor, and image.

Some things I like about this story is the structure: the punctuation use, choppy sentences, and unfinished thoughts. It goes well with the theme of subtle detachment. There are many great lines. “… hanging from a pole sagging with the weight of remembrance” (Smolens). This is one of my favorite uses of figurative language used by the writer. The style of the writing gives the theme, tone, and concept so many attributes. Another thing I enjoyed about this piece is the comparison of possession and possessions. That was an intelligent concept used, and it worked very well; it also contributed to connecting the title with the story. My favorite line is “Fuck you, Stephen Spielberg; death has no special effects” (Smolens). It added a lightweight tone to the extremely heavy subject. It served as a breather for me. There was also a mix of brevity and specifics which was cool to see. Although I enjoyed this piece, there were some aspects of it I have to disagree with.

A characteristic I found distracting was the fragments. They worked in some places and others felt forced. It was overused. However, it still did not affect the quality. The ending was not as strong as I thought it would be. At the end, there was a very unique metaphor introduced, and the author continued to use it until the conclusion, but it was a poor execution. The last line could have been exponentially stronger compared to the rest of the story. The format of the text was intimidating, and I spotted many places that could have been benefited with a paragraph break.

Overall, I loved this flash fiction. It did very well with being consistent and emotional but not full of pity. It was full of great imagery and other figurative languages. I love reading works that use personification, and it was prolific in this story. This is now one of my favorite pieces, and I plan to read more from the author. If you would like to read it, click here.

We Do Abortions Here: A Nurse’s Tale

After searching for popular, personal essays online, I came across “We Do Abortions Here: A Nurse’s Tale” by Sally Tisdale. The title immediately grasped my attention, so I decided to read it. The first link I clicked gave me this half page text, and I thought how is this a personal essay. Still, I printed and read it. In the five short paragraphs I read, there were tears forming in my eyes. The text was amazing and very well-written. It seemed like it was the full story, a nice slice of story; however, I accidentally clicked another link and this hideously long full text appeared. The part I read was only an excerpt from the essay though it stood so well on its own. I decided to go through and read the five-page personal essay, and I am glad I did.

“We do abortions here; that’s all we do”; that is the first line of the story. It was slicing, blunt, and gave a sense of opinion in the narrator. It goes on to discuss the clinic she works, the clients, and her fellow nurses and doctors. The essay clearly expresses how she feels about her job. Tisdale describes the ugly and bad side. She even exudes fear because of the ongoing debate of Planned Parenthood; sometimes it gets dangerous.

There are multiple things I enjoyed in this essay. One of them is the captivating metaphors and comparisons the narrator uses when describing the relationship between abortion, the clients, and the danger. “It is a sweet brutality we practice here, a stark and loving dispassion.” This is an example of the devastatingly beautiful language Tisdale uses. Another admirable aspect of this piece is the honesty. As stated before, the essay does explain the narrator’s opinion. However, it is an unclear opinion. The nurse realizes that every woman has their rights, but she also feels sad for the tiny, undeveloped babies that are being discarded of. “Each abortion is a message of our failure to protect, to nourish our own. Each basin I empty is a promise—but a promise broken a long time ago.” Another part of her honesty is the way she describes the patients. She gives different examples of the many women or young girls that come into the clinic every day. There are some she feels sorry for—others she does not. She also speaks of the men and their reactions.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this essay. It was very powerful and moving. The entire time I was imagining myself in the nurse’s place. I saw what she saw and felt what she felt. When a piece can do that, it’s obviously good writing. I don’t know if Sally Tisdale is a writer or if she just wanted to speak her emotions in a creative way, but I admire her and this personal essay.
The only thing I disliked about the essay was the structure of it. Sometimes, new paragraphs were created in weird places.

I recommend this personal essay to everyone, whether you’re for or against abortion. Please note there are some detailed information about the abortion process. If you would like to read it, click here.

Everything Works out in the End

Anytime I find myself in a state of frustration or continued sadness, I turn to uplifting written pieces or music to cure my rambled thoughts. Lately, life has been a rollercoaster that I’ve fallen off plenty of times. We all tend to find ourselves in a constant cycle of misfortunes or misplacement. We finish one thing and turn around to fifty more. It’s just life and the many mishaps that come along with it. But why are obstacles repetitive in our lives? Can we prevent them? Is it our actions that create a ripple? Apparently, it all comes down to one word, entropy. According to the dictionary definition, entropy is a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. When I think of probability, the first thing that comes to mind is word problems and proportions. The saying we use math every day in our lives is absolutely true, even if it’s subconsciously.

I came across an article titled “Entropy: Why Life Always Seems to Get More Complicated”. It immediately caught my attention because of the straightforward and relatable question in the title. So, I decided to give it a read. This article explores the different levels of entropy and questions associated with the terms. It includes several scientific and mathematical references. However, it isn’t a boring read about equations. Instead, it uses the references as brief support to the theory of why things go wrong in our lives. The article’s main scientific reasoning is Murphy’s law “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. This quote opens the article then transitions into the question ‘why’. The article almost becomes depressing because I begin to think there’s nothing I can do about this inevitable force, and obstacles will always find their way in my path. However, the writer goes on to say entropy is the reason we exert energy into situations. It’s the reason we keep fighting and trying new things, hoping to prevent new curves. It is in our nature to want some sort of order and stability.

One of my favorite ideas discussed in this article is the requirement of energy and the increasing odds against us. The article says there are countless numbers of ways something can go wrong, but one way it can go right. “There is only one possible state where every piece is in order, but there are a nearly infinite number of states where the pieces are in disorder”. The writer is referring to the completion of a puzzle and its probabilities.

We can’t necessarily stop bad things from happening to us. We can attempt ways to alleviate the impact, but it’s bound to happen. It’s our choice to learn from it and put in the effort to make it better. “You can fight back against the pull of entropy”. The only thing it requires is energy and effort. My favorite quote from the many the author uses is “The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life because everything is pulling you to be more and more complex.”

The road gets bumpy and we graze the sides sometimes, but it’s not the end yet. We still have time to come back and try again. Although it’s a relentless and tiring cycle, at least it’s something. Life is what you make it. Nothing’s perfect. So, close your eyes, breathe in and out. Prepare yourself for tomorrow.


If you would like to give the article a read, click here.

We’ll Always Know What Thanksgiving Tastes Like

Mama Odelle’s house smelled of roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, cigarettes, and sweat. The fat under her arm was swiftly moving every time she stirred the contents in her favorite mixing bowl.

“You have to stir it in one direction the entire time. That’s what get it all right, “she’d say every year.

We were all huddled in the living room watching the Hallmark channel. Mama O’s tv was small and so was her living room, but we all made it work. It reminded me of the nights when all the cousins slept over. We’d make pallets and sleep head to feet, feet to head. Jr. would always complain about my feet being all in his face.

“Man, I swear to God if your stinky feet touch me, I’m going to fight you,” he’d say with a playful undertone.

This year, almost everyone in the family came, just enough to fit at the table. Well, except for Aunt Sheryl’s husband Jake. The family eyed him each step he took. They’d only been married for a couple of months, and none of us were invited to the wedding. Aunt Sheryl said it all happened last minute, but her Facebook says differently. She and Jake were smiling big alongside his family at their ceremony. I didn’t say anything about it though.

Finally, the food was done and Mama Odelle shooed us all into the dining room. Everyone sat, and Auntie Jean led grace. The whole time she was being shady saying, and God please bless our unexpected guest, Mama O took over from there. Uncle Dennis was laughing silently the entire time.

We began to eat and eat. Mouths were full of dressing, ham, turkey, pecan and sweet potato pie. Everyone grabbed a slice of pecan pie except Jake.

“Why you ain’t eating none of that pecan?” Auntie Jean asked.

“Oh, I’m—”

“He’s allergic to pecans,” Aunt Sheryl cut him off.

Auntie Jean sucked her teeth.

“Mmm. Well, if you brought ‘em around more often, we’d know that.”

Uncle Dennis quickly grabbed his drink and swallowed hard, peeking from the rim of the glass.

“Well, if you stop running the streets all night, maybe you’d get to see him.”

Mama Odelle slammed her hand on the table.

“Look, we’re not doing this year. I’ve slaved over that kitchen stove to make this meal for y’all ungrateful devils and all you want to do is fight,” she said as she continued to eat her roll.

“Tell your daughter to grow up then Mama.” Aunt Sheryl said.

“You’re the one who needs to grow up. Didn’t invite your own family to your wedding. What? You’re ashamed of us or something. Got you a good job and a maybe decent man and you think you all that now huh?’

“Like, I said. The wedding was last minute. There were barely and guests.”

Auntie Jean shifted in her chair and laughed.

“Girl, stop that lying. You’re lying for no reason. I saw your Facebook. Mmhmm. Maybe you should make your page private,” auntie jean said.

I thought I was the only one who saw all the pictures. I guess I wasn’t the only one snooping around. Auntie Jean an Sheryl kept arguing back and forth like they were teenagers. The rest of us continued to eat like nothing was happening. Maybe Mama O decided they’d get tired eventually and shut up. Jake kept tugging at Aunt Sheryl’s arm, trying to get her to calm down.

It wasn’t until the food was thrown across the table that everyone tuned back in.

“Now, that was a perfectly good piece of pie, and you just wasted it,” uncle Dennis said playfully.

He was enjoying the drama, probably was even hoping he’d get to see a fist fight that day, but he didn’t. After there was no more to food to chunk, they screamed I hate you at each other and stormed out. Neither one of them told Mama O thank you or the food was good. Uncle Dennis joked for the next ten minutes until they became lame. He eventually left. The house was quiet again except the rattling of dishes. I was drying the plates for Mama Odelle. She looked sad but not sad enough to ask are you okay. I imagined she was thinking to herself. Asking how did her kids become so angry at the world and each other. But she found solace in the fact I’d always be there for her. To clean her carpet, fix her air conditioner, or whatever else she needed.

That was the last Thanksgiving we all had together. Aunt Sheryl and her husband moved away and never looked back. Auntie Jean was a little of everywhere, and Uncle Dennis was ‘rebooting’ his rap career up in Chicago. He’d save up to get a train ticket. I was the only one who came back every Thanksgiving until Mama Odelle passed away.


I Read a Great Story

Once again, I have found myself reading another Kate Chopin short story. What can I say? I think I’ve become addicted to this interesting woman. This time I chose the short story titled “Desiree’s Baby”. A friend introduced me to this story, so I guess it was just fate. “Desiree’s Baby” is a great short story. The central story is about miscegenation (inter-breeding of races), and the setting takes place in Louisiana.  Just to refresh your memory, Chopin was strongly Pro-Confederate during her life. It’s safe to say how she already feels about miscegenation; however, the story’s empathy towards the subject was quite surprising.

The story begins with a subtle flashback to the abandonment of a child, Desiree. Madame Valmonde took her in and claimed her as her own. A very prominent and rich white man fell in love with Desiree years later, and they were married. Eventually, they had a child together. The conflict is a racial crisis between a husband and wife.

It is written in the third person omniscient, playing into the thoughts and emotions of all three main characters—mostly Desiree. As the conflict is introduced in the story, the mood changes. It’s a very abrupt change which worked well. At first, the author had me confused at the time, but I eventually came to a realization.

Chopin does well with having sensitivity towards the emotion of the wife. In a way, she kind of displays the hurt she feels because of identity. In this story, I feel there’s no bias present towards the conflict. The author places herself in the shoes of every character and displays what she thinks they would feel to the best of her ability, which is very appreciative. I love the way Chopin incorporates the Louisiana lifestyle in the story.

Some things I found unattractive of the story was the lack of metaphorical descriptions as I see in her other works. This story was full of literal descriptions, not leaving much up to the imagination, and that’s something I enjoyed about her other works. I also didn’t agree/understand the ‘wrapping up’ of the conclusion. With that being said, the actual ending was amazing, a definite jaw dropper. There was the numbering of the paragraphs, and I didn’t know if this was the actual structure or if the website placed them there. I found the numbers quite distracting and unnecessary. Throughout the story, all of the text was in chunks, and the last section was very small.

In conclusion, this story definitely tops the others I’ve read by Chopin. It’s very well written and emotionally stirring. It really does leave you thinking ‘wow’. I know it did for me. I would definitely say this is one of my favorite short stories now.

If you’re looking for something great to read in under ten minutes, “Desiree’s Baby” is the answer. You’re in for a good treat. Click here to read the full story, and see the very nice portrait that goes along with it. You can thank me later.

“Chicago is bathed in black blood.”

I very rarely find myself incredibly moved by a personal essay other than mine. No, I’m not saying this arrogantly, but I always end up with very tragic personal essays. “The Home That Made Me Doesn’t Exist Anymore” is an inspiring piece of nonfiction work. This essay incorporates a myriad of social disconnections and victims of stereotypes. When the word victim comes to mind, our brain automatically thinks of a person, a human being. However, places and homes can be victims too. There have always been the poor, middle-class, and high-class standards of living. We have a definite picture of how each of these classes lives. When you see an apartment building with chipped paint and a broken window, those are signs of poor or middle-class habitats. It is too often people are judged by the place they lay their head at night, cook dinner for their children, or bathe the day’s dirt away. A home is a home.

In this essay, the main character is the writer, and it travels through her young years to her present self. She is an African American woman from Chicago, which is the setting of the essay. There are many descriptions that give the piece great visuals and a sense of the Chicago lifestyle, more specifically the way she saw Chicago. In the beginning, the little girl is naïve about the place she lives and doesn’t understand why others see her home differently. As the piece progresses, she becomes more and more aware of the faults in her surroundings. For example, the once crystal covered playground is now shards of glass from liquor and beer bottles. It takes a very harsh but gentle turn because the narrator understands now.

There are a ton of great verbs used in this piece such as shimmers, affirmed, ensconced, mythologized, bathed. The writer does very well with progressing the story with interesting words. There also nouns that stood out to me such as haints and maws.

While reading this essay, it became an emotional journey for me. I felt what this writer was feeling and saw this world through her eyes. She gives this place that everyone looks down on admirable characteristics. “Our neighborhoods are broken in so many ways, but there is light here as well.” That was one of my favorite lines from the entire essay because it embodies so much character. It adds depth to the setting and the personality of the writer. This essay also dips into the division of races. “I didn’t learn whiteness as a default, or the limitations placed on those who exist outside of it, until I was much, much older.” This line is powerful because it shows that sometimes you have to learn the hard way of the inequality of the world, and in a way, you must accept it.

Another great thing about this essay is the constant references to other writers. She explained how they were introduced to her and the importance or impact they had in her life. Overall, I wholeheartedly enjoyed reading “The Home that Made Me Doesn’t Exist Anymore.” If you’d like to give it a read, like always, just click here.           

A Great Story You Should Read

After reading “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and writing a blog about it, I began looking more into the works of the author. I recently discovered another short story title “Regret” written by Kate Chopin, first published in a short story collection A Night in Acadia. This story is one of the most satisfying piece I’ve ever read.

“Regret” is a story of pure, ironic human nature. Humans often tell themselves what they don’t wont or will never do but when those things are presented to them, their entire perspective changes… and suddenly, you realize it’s exactly what you want. So, shortly, I would say the theme of this short story is chiefly realization.

The story begins introducing the main character, Mamzelle Aurlie (which I have no idea how to pronounce). This 50-year-old woman is introduced as an overall strong, sturdy woman who knows exactly what she does not want. “So, she was quite alone in the world, except for her dog Ponto, and the negroes who lived in her cabins and worked her crops, and the fowls, a few cows, a couple of mules, her gun (with which she shot chicken-hawks), and her religion.” Chopin created a visual, emotional, and literal description of Mamzelle in just one sentence, which is very impressive.

The story then transitions to a morning where Mamzelle is observing her new neighbors. Chopin uses the description to reveal how the main character feels about the family. Chopin uses the show don’t tell method very well, almost like it’s just second nature. I appreciate the functions of all the descriptions. None of them feel redundant or out of place. There’s just enough throughout the entire story. On this morning, Mamzelle is presented exactly what she didn’t want. This abrupt introduction changed her routine and at the end, her emotions.

Mamzelle realizes that she’s been missing out on something very special. Her entire life she believed this aspect didn’t belong in her life story, but she was wrong. The title acts as the last emotional element in the story. The main character doesn’t frankly say or describe how she feels, but the ending created a sort of somber. When you look back at the title, you know exactly what Mamzelle Aurlie is feeling while she sat at the table—regret. The ending stirred an emotion inside of me. I almost felt sorry for the main character. I believe that’s exactly what Chopin wanted her readers to feel.

Some interesting things I want to point out is the way Kate Chopin shows her character through her fictional character. Chopin was pro Confederate and obviously racist. Mamzelle describes the slaves working and living across the cotton field. The words negroes and mulatto are used, which was striking to the eye but not so much distracting. I feel I have a very complicated, interested relationship with this author. I know how she felt about my kind, but I can’t help but to appreciate the dynamics of her stories.

Overall, this was a great story. If you want to know what the ‘introduction’ was, click here to give the story a read. It’s very short!

The Story of an Hour

“The Story of an Hour” is a short story written by Kate Chopin. It was first published as “The Dream of an Hour” in 1985. I was first introduced to this short story during sophomore year. It was recommended to me by my English teacher; however, I never found the time to read it. The title of this story is literal, referring to the exact time the events prolong (which I find to be very interesting). The length of the story is roughly 1000 words. Before reading, I decided to do some research on the author. In her early years, she was strongly pro-Confederate, mainly because of the loss of her brother in the Civil War, and she was also quite the rebel. Her work exemplified societal issues through her own interests, but she wasn’t renowned during her time. It wasn’t until the 20th century that her work gained recognition.

This short story revolves around a woman who has a heart condition and her emotions during this hour. Immediately, the conflict is introduced; Mrs. Mallard has been informed of her husband’s death. Her sister and another character try to break the news in the gentlest way because of her medical condition. Her husband’s death isn’t the only tension. In a way, Chopin uses descriptions and moments that hint towards the disturbing emotion of the now widow. That is, she feels free that her husband has died. At first, the wife is overwhelmed with grief and locks herself in her bedroom. Then, she reveals that her husband wasn’t so great of a man through small, subtle details. Eventually, Mrs. Mallard begins repeating the phrase “Free! Body and soul free!” This made the story controversial during the time of the 1890s. Many people argue over if people were shocked because of a woman speaking her mind or a woman being liberated by the death of her husband. In my opinion, I think it’s both.

My favorite thing about this piece is the descriptions. Chopin uses sensory details to make the reader feel as if they were Mrs. Mallard. The sentence structure and order was smooth and very understandable. Words such as elixir, elusive, exalted, and importunities coincide with the setting, time, and tone. It also gave me the opportunity to learn because I didn’t know the meaning of a lot of words in the story, but that didn’t hinder me from enjoying the read. Overall, I find this story interesting because of its background and the author. In a time where women were supposedly created for certain purposes, this fiction piece challenged the ideas of the 1890s. It spoke of things women were never supposed to or expected to think or say aloud. I admire this story’s complicated internal conflict, adding depth and reason to the tone. The ending is the best part to me and was worth waiting for. I just really appreciate the way conflict is in the beginning, middle, and end. There isn’t a dull moment in this story.

If you want to know the ironic event that happens at the end, give the story a read here.