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Falling

Even in the first few lines of Campbell’s “Falling,” I was already strikingly aware of how different this story was from anything else we have read. The story is written in first person, but the gender of the speaker wasn’t obvious until she says “a woman like me,” (pg. 108). In fact, I was under the impression that the speaker was a man, based on the somewhat vulgar language and sarcastic and cynical attitude. The speaker’s attitude or sense of humor, only gets darker as the story continues. She describes Jonas’s lack of friends in the psych ward sarcastically calling it a “new kind of failure,” along with his “failing to kill himself,” or “failing to want to live,” (pg. 108). The tone seems to change as she introduces Robert, mentioning that her knees went weak when she saw him. But that feeling is a thing of the past and she goes on to say that she doesn’t need anyone “freezing to death on the driveway,” (pg. 109). She goes on to mention her own thoughts to commit suicide, holding the gun to her head but never actually pulling the trigger. I was reminded of a passage from John Green’s “Fault in Our Stars,” in which the character Augustus Waters places a cigarette in his mouth. He never lights the cigarette but instead holds it in his mouth as only a symbol for what could kill him. Here, the speaker continues to live not for herself but for the wellbeing of Robert.  I’ll be honest, I had difficulty with the first few pages. They were painful to read, Jonas’s pathetic appearance, Robert’s deteriorating condition, and the speaker’s entirely hopeless outlook on life. But there is some sort of redemption toward the end, and I started to believe that these last few pages are what made this story bearable and one about love. I’m not under the impression that she asked Jonas to stay with her out of the kindness of her heart, but for the happiness of Robert. The writing only hints at her devotion, but it’s enough to allow the reader to realize that she has appealing qualities and she is not solely a miserable middle-aged woman. I felt certain of her love for Robert after she mentioned his smile when noticing Jonas for the first time. While difficult to read, this story may have drawn more raw emotion from me than anything we have read thus far.

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