Where There is Death, There is also Life:
An Analysis of Short Story “The School” by Donald Barthelme
The question, “…is death that which gives meaning to life?” is more than just a question being asked in the short story “The School” by Donald Barthelme (Barthelme 2). It is a question asked by many throughout life. In the short story “The School”, where a series of unfortunate events are happening around an elementary school, it begins with something less tragic from a failed school project, to something dreadful with the death of two students. The author of the story, Donald Barthelme, addresses the issues of life and death. Accordingly, the conflict of “The School” not only does it teach us to accept death, but also to be responsible with life and be courageous.
The short story concentrates on an elementary school and its so called curse. The story is narrated by a teacher named “Edgar”. The narrator discusses and talks about the series of tragedies happening around the school in a conversational manner as if he is story telling or talking about it to us. The way the narrator speaks captures the reader’s attention, which makes the readers feel like part of the story.
Moreover, the story is set up with the least tragic event coming first, which then builds up to the “tragedy” leading up to the climax. “It wouldn’t have been so bad except that just a couple of weeks before the thing with the trees, the snakes all died” (Barthelme 1). This statement starts off the series