An Analysis of 'Dog's Death' by John Updike and 'I Used to Live Here Once' by Jean Rhys

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Introduction Explore any primitive culture and you are likely to unearth taboos about death. Whether universal or not, there appears to be a propensity for not saying aloud those thing that will attract the attention of bad spirits, the evil eye, or the grim reaper. Looking away from evil is believed to keep one safe from harm. It is no wonder then, that the superstitious behavior of humans extends to death as if it were an unnatural event instead of a completely natural milestone albeit, the final one in a life. Doubtless, there are times when people could be more sensitive to the harbingers of death, as John Updike intimates in his poem Dog's Death. Fiction, fantasy, and film are chock-a-block full of images representing death. Even the beloved The Christmas Carole tells the story of a present in which Marley is dead and spirits escort Scrooge to a season in the future in which Scrooge is absent. So, too, Jean Rhys takes her character into the future. In analyzing, comparing, and contrasting these two literary works, we can see that the human tendency is not to acknowledge mortality, but rather to live with the incomprehensibility of death by ignoring it as fervently, studiously, and deliberately as we are able to, right up until the point when death is irrefutably imminent or has irrevocably occurred. This paper will analyze the content, form, and style of Dog's Death by John Updike and I Used to Live Here Once by Jean Rhys. In the poem Dog's Death, Updike pulls the

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