Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"In Watermelon Sugar" Richard Brautigan

Like "Gestures" explored last class, I see this author finding ways to develop his characters beyond the cliche. The first story,"Margaret" gives the reader great detailed insight as to what she does, beyond who she is. This is the introduction to the character Margaret, a very different approach then the usual character development. Brautigan writes of Margaret's repetitive movements at the door step of the narrator, who still remains nameless- an added piece that is explored in the next story, "My Name." I very much felt engaged in the approach of first introducing Margaret as simply a presence beyond the door of a narrator who is hiding from her, as he knows she is here from the steps he recognizes on the old panel board beneath her feet. But with this narration and introduction of the person beyond the front door (Margaret) who is clearly recognized by the narrator, we simultaneously receive information on the narrator's character, his/her feeling irritated, hiding, obsessing over details that have been repeated, in a way that the author "chooses" to emphasize. It is obvious that these decisions on behalf of Brautigan are unique and purposeful in developing these characters. This brings me to notice and understand the power of choice in writing. The powerful approach of emphasizing something like the detailed description of Margaret stepping on a creeky old wooden panel board, one that she seems to step on with every visit to the narrators doorstep- creates a question, and a wondering within the reader, why is this important? What is this sense of mystery that is unravelling around these characters? We do not know who they are yet, but we do know what they do, and the details of their behavior- down to their specific steps. Real briefly in response to "My Name" the following passage by Brautigan, as it connects to the previous story "Margaret" the narrator guides the reader through a series of questions, questions that might bring up some sort of "meaning" for the reader, and in that regard he says "That is my name." Something of some value, for whatever reason, random or not- "That is my name." This story is interesting as it connects to "Margaret" knowing that we are curious as to this narrator, the narrators character, his/her purpose, and simply - we wonder, what is his/her name? Well, clearly- that does not matter.


  1. Your response really helped me get a better understanding of "Margaret" and "My Name". I agree with importance of choice as a writer, and I too feel that these pieces are good examples of effective details that the author chooses to put in. I think your question as to why the author chooses to put in that Margaret always steps on the same creeky wooden panel is good, and I feel that it nicely accents the narrators irritation to Margaret as well. Great observations, this really helped me look at these stories in a different light.

  2. Even though we know nothing of Margaret, we know that she is somehow irritating, simply because of the path she chooses to walk on. She seems to want something from the narrator that he/she cannot give. You have very good points in your analysis. I enjoyed reading it.

  3. I agree with your finishing thought about the name not being important in the end. I agreed with your understanding of the piece as I felt the same way.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.