Write an essay 800-1000 words in MLA format comparing and analyzing the techniques used to “zoom in and “zoom out” in these two stories. Do you think the authors suggest the “big” things matter more or the “small” things?
“The Study” by Hieu Minh Nguyen
For the longest time, the only memories I had
of that year were of Little Billy from the third floor, floating
dead in the pool & how angry the rest of the tenants were
when they drained & filled it with cement& how that summer, the unbearable heat dragged its endless skin
across our bones—memory is the funniest character in this story:
when I think of that year, no one has a face—the first memory
I had of being molested did not come until nine years later.
At first I thought it was a dream, a movie, white noise
summoning a narrative through the static—if it’s true
what they say about memory being a series of rooms
then behind some locked door: a wicked apothecary: her fingers
trapped in jars, her hair growing like wild vines along the walls.
Somewhere in this story I am nine years old
filling the loud hollows with cement to drown out the ghost.
They say, give us details, so I give them my body.
They say, give us proof, so I give them my body.
If you cut me open, if you dissect me, you will pull from me:
a pair of handprints, a nine-year-old boy, fossilized.
“Currents” by Hannah Voskuil, in Seagull Book of Stories 479
Gary drank single malt in the night, out on the porch that leaned toward the ocean. His mother, distracted, had shut off the floodlights and he did not protest against the dark.
Before that, his mother, Josey, tucked in her two shivering twelve-year-old granddaughters.
“I want you two to go swimming first thing tomorrow. Can’t have two seals like you afraid of water.”
Before that, one of the girls held the hand of a wordless Filipino boy. His was the first hand she’d ever held. They were watching the paramedics lift the boy’s dead brother into the ambulance. At this time the other girl heaved over a toilet in the cabana.
Before that, the girl would feel nauseated watched as the drowned boy’s hand slid off the stretcher and bounced along the porch rail. Nobody placed the hand back on the stretcher, and it bounced and dragged and bounced.
Before that, Gary saw the brown hair sink and resurface as the body bobbed. At first he mistook it for seaweed.
Before that, thirty-five people struggled out of the water at the Coast Guard command. A lifeguard shouted over Jet Ski motors about the increasing strength of the reptide.
Before that, the thirty-five people, including Gary and two girls, formed a human chain and trolled the waters for the body of a Filipino boy. The boy had gone under twenty minutes earlier, and never come back up.
Before that, a lifeguard sprinted up the beach, shouting for volunteers. The two girls, resting lightly on their sandy bodyboards, stood up to help.
Before that, a Filipino boy pulled on the torpid lifeguard’s ankle and gestured desperately at the waves. My brother, he said.
Before that, it was a simple summer day.
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