The Scream on 57th Street
Part 1 A: The Scream on 57th Street
Hortense Calisher’s story on the Scream on 57th Street portrays the theme of revolution. From the story in the book, the title can be deduced to represent a common cry across a given neighborhood. This theme is well developed as characters in the book reveal the challenges they are facing in their day to day lives. For instance, one of the men in the story reports on how he could only be intimate with his wife upon compensating her with an expensive dinner. Other characters in the story also show their challenges and seemingly strive to get out of their cocoons. The story is thus one of self liberation and a call for autonomy.
B: An Interest of Life/ I Stand Here Ironing
In the story I Stand Here Ironing, Emily’s mother describes her experiences taking care of Emily as she grew up from childhood to adulthood. The experiences depicted in the story begin from the time of Emily’s birth to the time when she realizes her potential as a comedian. Emily’s mother relates her efforts and feeling as she spent time away from her child, when the child was sick as well as when Emily did not feel like going to school and she could not reprimand her. The story reveals the love that a mother can have for her child regardless of their status or decisions at any given time. It also shows how a mother’s attitude can affect the attitude of her child. Like in I Stand Here ironing, An Interest of Life depicts a woman who tries to survive with her children in the absence of a husband. The two stories share in their depiction of the challenges of single motherhood and their efforts to take care of their children.
Part 2: The Office
The Office is a story written in first person and in which various conflicts are depicted. The story begins when the narrator approaches her husband with her request for an office without exactly knowing what she wanted the office for or what she intended to do in it. It progresses to a point where the narrator is allowed by her husband to look for a cheap office within the urban center. The narrator eventually finds one owned by the Malleys. In spite of wanting an office, the narrator does not want any modifications in the office. For instance, she wants neither curtains nor carpets and feels that the landlord, Mr. Malley, who makes an effort to be friendly to her by giving gifts, is being intrusive. As the interactions between the narrator and Mr. Malley increase, he makes an attempt to provide her with content for her writing and even steals into the premises to read what she writes by night.
As the interactions grow more and more and the narrator feels like there is more intrusion from Mr. Malley, she shares her feelings with her husband who tells her to tell him he is busy. Unfortunately, she has tried that before without any gains. She therefore resorts to dodging Mr. Malley, a decision that does not go well with the landlord. He thus begins to taunt her through various accusations, from conducting illegal business to having illicit affairs in the building. As she does not answer to any of his accusations, Mr. Malley eventually finds a way to accuse her of drawing lipstick graffiti in her washroom. She responds that the washroom should be locked and decides to get out of the office and to put off her quest for an office until later on. Mrs. Malley comes to help out the narrator and reports to her that Mr. Malley ‘is not himself.’
The Office in its entirety depicts the theme of conflict. In this regard, conflict implies both internal and external conflicts. Of particular interest in the story is the internal conflict described in the persona. Not only does the story narrator represent her conflicts with her neighbor who is also her landlord but also within herself. The level of internal conflict depicted in the story begins from the indecision about how to report the narrator’s need. The narrator cannot decide what to say she wants to do in the office. On the one hand, she feels she needs an office as she is literally the home and cannot therefore work from home. On the other hand, she feels merely saying she wants to write in the office would not be persuasive enough.
As the narrator gets her office, the main internal conflicts faced pertain to dealing with the interactions with her landlord. The landlord keeps bringing her seemingly expensive yet unwanted gifts. As much as she does not want those gifts, the humility with which they are brought and the persuasion in the landlord’s eyes makes it difficult for her to accept them. She is also unable to tell off her landlord directly that she cannot entertain his visits due to his persistence. Consequently, the narrator remains between a rock and a hard place throughout her presence in the office. The story of The Office therefore provides a general overview into various feelings and attitudes that people may harbor yet be unable to communicate.