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Love

Again, the first sentence of this story is particularly striking. Alice and Ian meet and reconnect at a funeral of their friends, something I found somewhat comical, especially considering the fact that Katinka was never particularly faithful to her significant others. But the element of the story morphs into the love story about Alice and Ian, their relationship complicated by her dissertation. I hadn’t bothered to notice that the subject of her dissertation wasn’t revealed…that is until it was revealed. Both Ian and Alice seem to have had somewhat troubled childhoods — Alice’s mother being a drunk and Ian’s father being less than faithful. There’s some truth to the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” in the context of this story. As Alice becomes progressively paranoid, she picks up the Vodka bottle. But O’Connor deliberately mentions the “plastic orange juice glass,” a vivid reminder of her mother’s alcoholic past.

O’Connor’s detail, as the story moves forward, becomes increasingly chilling. I was able to feel Alice’s anxiety as she listens to the crunch of the leaves and stares into the “leather brown,” face of the bizarre old man. Heightening the readers frustration and anxiety is the development of Ian as a somewhat detached character. He ignores Alice’s paranoia and assures her that the noises are just a bear, wandering drunkenly through the woods. The sexual tension within the story is also an element that caught my eye. Was Ian only interested in that aspect of their relationship? He seemed to have some redeeming moments, holding her in his arms, or laughing with her and teasing her in the boat. But I left the story sure of his infidelity. The idea of the “crazy girlfriend,” accused of imagining any sort of affair is one that is very familiar. Alice doesn’t trust any of her gut instincts or any of her suspicions and brushes them all off, fearful of seeming neurotic in Ian’s eyes. The story ends without any sort of confession, leaving the reader with some amount of suspense and conflict.

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