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- Daniel Burd
- English 121 - 139RL
- Essay #3: Literary Analysis
- November 11 2019
- The Ceiling
- In every day of life, there are marriages that are created and those that crumble. Unfortunately, loss of love is inevitable for many couples old and new, and Brockmeier’s narrator is a fictional, yet a very evident tale of this theme. In “The Ceiling” by Brockmeier, the narrator’s marriage between himself and Melissa deteriorates as certain death approaches through a hyperbolic ceiling coming crashing down on all of humanity. This loss of all human life is just as inevitable as the loss of love in this character’s short-lived marriage and is a central theme of Brockmeier’s story.
- To begin, the narrator was once living quite a normal life, enjoying his son Joshua’s birthday, however, it is the beginning of the end. Foreshadowed by what the narrator describes as what looked like a “child’s tooth” forming in the sky. This object being the ceiling, which eventually comes down on all of humanity. Brockmeier not only foreshadows the end for his fictional people, but ties this to the end of the narrators’ marriage as well. Melissa, the narrator’s wife, is never shown to have any sense of enthusiasm or happiness outside of this beginning of the story. She is shown in the first paragraph of page two giving off just a hint of her lack of interest in the narrator, “She parted her toes around the front leg of Mitch’s lawn chair.” Possibly being passed on during a first read, this quote brings attention to Mitch and Melissa, and how Melissa desires escape from the narrator. It is evident to be flirting of sorts, but is most importantly detail to show the contrast of Melissa away from the narrator to Melissa being solely with the narrator. When the narrator asks about what seems to him to be the children’s tooth in the sky, Melissa simply replies, “My life is a mess,” (Page 3 Par. 2). This foreshadows the ceiling as a direct symbol to this theme of the loss of love. Once the ceiling is noticed, Melissa only grows more astray from the narrator as the ceiling grows bigger. Brockmeier writes through his story how this loss of love between two incompatible spouses is inevitable just as the ceiling and its impending doom is to the people of the narrator’s hometown.
- Continued, Brockmeier follows up to his foreshadowing with detailed evidence of this incompatibility between the narrator and Melissa. After a few weeks, with the ceiling growing less and less distant, the narrator eventually realizes his wife is distraught, but not connecting this true causation of her own distance. The narrator tries to talk to Melissa in an attempt to reconcile, practically interviewing her, showing this disconnect between one another. After an attempted guess into Melissa’s feelings fails, the narrator says, “You don’t look a day older than when we met honey. You know that, don’t you?” (Page 4 Par. 2). This invokes a small laugh out of Melissa, showing the reader these people are living different lives. The narrator is dedicated to his wife, but this dedication is fruitless and not directed nor connected with Melissa’s feelings. Meanwhile Melissa has realized her husband could not be more disconnected from her, even laughing at this fact. She quite nearly gives up all hope in the narrator, seeing as this ceiling coming down on them has no sign of stopping. Melissa practically ceased to exist in the narrator’s life. “After we had put Joshua to bed, we would sit with one another in the living room, and when I asked her a question, or when the telephone rang, there was always a certain brittleness to her, a hesitancy of manner that suggested she was hearing the world from across a divide.” (Page 4 Par. 5).
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