The struggle over a baby echoes the story of the Judgment of Solomon in the book of Kings in the Bible.
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In this story, two women arguing over a baby bring their case to King Solomon for resolution. Solomon offers to cut the baby in half for them. The false mother agrees, but the real mother says she'd rather see her baby go to the wrong person than see it killed. By her selflessness, Solomon recognizes who the real mother is and awards her custody of the child. But there is no selfless parent in Carver's story.
Story Analysis of "Popular Mechanics" by Raymond Carver
At first, it appears the father wants only a photo of the baby, but when the mother sees it, she takes it away. She doesn't want him to have it.
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Angered by her taking the photo, he escalates his demands and insists on taking the actual baby. Again, he doesn't really seem to want it; he just doesn't want the mother to have it.
They even argue about whether they're hurting the baby, but they seem less concerned with the truth of their statements than with the opportunity to hurl accusations at each other. During the story, the baby changes from a person referred to as "him" to an object referred to as "it. The parents want only to win, and their definition of "winning" hinges entirely on their opponent's losing. It's a grim view of human nature, and one may wonder how King Solomon would have dealt with these two parents.
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She has several short stories published in literary journals. Continue Reading.
Raymond Carver Brief biography and links to 16 poems. Raymond Carver Materials for a unit on Raymond Carver.
Includes an overview of the unit, handouts on writing minimalist sentences and on writing responses to three Carver works, "Lemonade," "Cathedral," and "What we talk about when we talk about love. Students use a literary graphic organizer to analyze the three major characters. They compare the story to an older version titled "The Bath.
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The Cutting Edge: Exploring How Editing Affects an Author's Work Students examine the writing of short-story author Raymond Carver as well as their own writing to explore how editing can affect the text, content and context of an author's work. Students discuss the significance of the titles in the two stories, unaware at first that the stories are the same.
After reading and discussing the four stories, students write a reflective essay in which they defend their choice of a title for one of the two sets of Carver stories. Includes links to some of the stories, writer's checklist.
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Minimalism — an Experiment An assignment: write a few sentences in minimalist style. Adobe Reader required for access.
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