Qu. “Choose a novel or short story in which a character deals with a powerful human emotion, for example love, shame, hatred, fear, embarrassment, despair, joy, or any other strong human emotion. Show how the emotion you have chosen is revealed by the author to engage your sympathy for the character.”
The short story ‘Remote’ by Bernard MacLaverty is a tragic tale of an elderly woman who is haunted by her husband’s suicide. The story deals with her isolation and loneliness as a result. Through the course of this essay I will show how her extreme loneliness is revealed by the author in order to engage the sympathy of the reader.
Loneliness shown through setting in place connotations of title ‘Remote’ “one track road”, “lured to the island”, “like a dance hall full of people” “herring boned with scars”, tall black and white posts”
and in time “because it was December”, “hanging fronds of tinsel”, “Silent Night came on the tape”, “He drowned himself…on Christmas day”.
Loneliness shown through plot husband had died (anniversary of death), sends letter to herself (secretive/old xmas card etc), ‘treats herself’ to a bun, has to rely on lifts/coerces Postman to take her.
Loneliness shown through characterisation “running in her stiff legged fashion”, “chat was a thing you got out of the habit of”(used to being on her own), “city born and bred”(uprooted and in unfamiliar territory), “he was the driver”,
and relationships with others “she could visit Mary”, “ she only had a brief word with Elizabeth”, (making excuses – cant relate to people)“when she saw it was Stuart driving she smiled”(life revolves around trivial relationships), “he sighed and looked over his shoulder”, “”is that where you’re from?”( yet gets a lift every month)
Loneliness suggested through symbolism “”it was all there was”, She cracked the ring of mint”, “distances grew with age”, “the distant cries of sea birds”, “the loch in the growing dark”
In conclusion, the short story ‘Remote’ by Bernard MacLaverty is a very poignant and tragic presentation of the devastating effects of suicide and the pain caused by loneliness and old age. By highlighting the details of this woman’s life, her relationships with others and her physical isolation, MacLaverty paints a startling picture of a woman struggling with grief, guilt and above all the loneliness of life in the aftermath of depression and suicide. The reader has no choice but to sympathise with her plight and is left with the disturbing notion that her isolation and distance from reality is set to intensify as “distances grow with age”.