Shaving by Leslie Norris

February 18, 2010
By , Omaha, NE
There comes a point in each person’s life when he or she has to grow up and take on the role of adulthood. Whether taking over a business or a household, it is still a very important point in that person’s life, and may create a dilemma for themselves. In many situations, this person would have to take over a certain position in a household, such as a son taking over the position as man of the house. This may be the reason that may authors choose to write about this topic, for example the short story “Shaving” by Leslie Norris . In this story, Barry struggles with taking over the position of man of the house, and to further expand on this, the author uses foreshadowing and symbols.

In the story Shaving by Leslie Norris the author does not tell the reader at any point in the story that the boy’s father is going to die, but because of the hints that she tells the reader through the character, the reader can assume that he will die. Even from the beginning of the story when the character Jackie says, “How's your father?” and then the character Barry replies, “No better, he’s not going to get better”., the reader can assume that his father is very sick and he will probably die. It becomes very apparent that he will not live very long when Barry walks into the room his father is in. The reader can tell from the description, “ His father lay in the white bed, his long body gaunt, his head scarcely denting the pillow. He seemed asleep, this blue lids covering his eyes…”, that he is very sick and is not long for the world. While Barry is shaving his father, the quote, “He had let go all authority, handed it over”, is stated. This foreshadows that he will die and give his position to Barry because he has given over all of his authority to his son he must be dying, and he knows it. All of these hints that foreshadow the death of Barry’s father support them theme because now that the reader knows that Barry’s father is going to die, the reader now knows that Barry will need to fill his shoes and take over as man of the house. The reader can tell this because of the point of view the story is being told.

From the beginning of the story the reader can tell that the story is being told from a 3rd person point of view. The reader can tell from the quote, “Earlier when Barry left the house to go to the game..”, that the story is being told from a 3rd person point of view. AS the story goes on the reader can tell that it is being told not only from a 3rd person point of view, but also from an omniscient point of view also. The reader can tell this from the quote, “He’s not much taller than you are” said by the character Sue and the quote, “He was without strength”, said about Barry’s dad. This supports the theme because the reader not only knows Barry’s thoughts and feeling, but also the other characters. Perhaps the most important quote, “ He had let go all authority, handed it over”, about Barry’s father, is the turning point in the story and lets the reader know that Barry is not usurping the position of man of the house, but his father is relinquishing it to him. This is a very important tool used in this story that helps to support the theme, also like the author using symbols to illustrate the theme.

In this story, Leslie Norris uses symbols to further explain the theme. One example of this is when Barry is shaving his father. This may appear as just a simple action, but it much more than that. This action symbolizes the son taking over the position as man of the house. Another example of a symbol used in this story is when the sun is setting and Barry has just finished shaving his father. In this part of the story, “…the window was full in the beam of the dying sunlight, and Barry stood there, illuminated in its glowing warmth for a whole minute, knowing it would soon be gone”. This is not a simple statement about what it looks like outside, the sun symbolizes his father and how it is setting and will leave for now, but it wont be gone for long, it is not completely terminated. Barry is not only basking in the last moments of the day, but also the last moments of his father’s life. Much like the sun, his father’s life is perennial, and even though he may be gone for now, he will soon return. The reader is left, then, to infer what will happen next, if his father passed away, and if he did how Barry will deal with it.

In this story Barry struggles with taking over the position of man of the house, and to further expand on this, the author uses foreshadowing and symbols. Almost all people will have to go through a similar challenge in their life time. The person going through this event will have to make a decision to step down or take over.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

gracemsaw said...
Aug. 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm
I completely agree with the two previous comments. This is a great analysis of the book. There is symbolism a lot in this book and you did a great job at explaining it.
 
Gabmara said...
Oct. 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm
This is incredible! You have real potential as a poet! I love the emotion!
 
Smart Boy said...
Nov. 15, 2011 at 10:21 pm
Very nice analysis of Shaving
 
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