Raymond Carver Popular Mechanics Analysis

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1. What is the title of the text and what is the text about?

“Popular Mechanics” is a short story written by Raymond Carver.

The scene took place early in the morning. The date is unknown, however, it would be possible to suggest that this happened somewhere between winter and spring. Indeed, Carver (1981/2014) described that “the snow was melting into dirty water”.

There are three main figures in the story: the father, the mother and a newborn.

In the introduction, the father is packing his luggage while the woman is teasing him. She claimed being overjoyed by the fact he is leaving the house. She insulted him and blamed him for not looking at her while packing. In fact, the reader does not know the reason of their fight.

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What is the author’s view? How do I know?

This scene seems like a banal household dispute.

Many events should have alerted the parents to stop their fight.

1. the baby cried, not because he was hungry, but because he was suffering or afraid. Indeed, he was “red-faced” (Carver, 1981/2014)

2. they destroyed the furniture. The noises should have stopped them. Also, the pieces from the broken flowerpot could be sharpened and hurt the little boy or one of the main protagonists

3. there was no light in the room. The reader can imagine how moving in such environment could be.

The author might be criticizing the selfishness of the parents. Note the use of “might”. Indeed, the author does not clearly express his opinion over that matter. The reader is only able to express hypothesis.

3. What is the evidence presented by the author to support
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However, at this moment of the story, the protagonists should have countered it. Indeed, at the end of the story, the infant is suggested dead. Both pulled this sweet living creature with all their might and weight from opposite sides. That’s why Carver (1981/2014) summarized at the end of the story that these opposites strains forced upon the underage character solved the problem. As a lively example, the reader could ask his neighbor to take a sheet of paper between his hands. Each of the readers should pull the sheet of paper from his side. The obvious consequence is that the sheet is torn apart.

6. Have I heard/read anything similar or dissimilar? What was it?

Readers familiar with the Holy Books should have heard of a similar story. King Solomon had to judge a case where two women were both claiming that one baby was theirs. Solomon could not know whose child was this. Therefore, he ordered to cut the son in two. It was a trick imagined by Solomon. One of the women gave up her motherhood for which she had fought until now and sadly asked to give the full boy to the other woman. Only the real mother could have loved her child so much for giving up half of the property and sparing his whole life (1 Kings 3:16-28
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