Analysis Of Donald Barthelme 's ' The School '

Better Essays

Maria Coquioco
September 19, 2015
Greg Christensen
New Criticism Essay

“The School” is a short story written by Donald Barthelme and published in 1974 in The New Yorker. Donald Barthelme is a post-modernist writer known for his deceptively simple yet powerful and insightful short stories. “The School” is a story that takes a good hard look at the sensitive topic of death. The theme of this story is about the cycle of life and how death is an integral part of it. The story is written in first person narrative. The narrator here is the teacher and he talks about how he and his young students of 30 kids encountered death throughout their time together in class. He uses edgy humor and a conversational tone in his seemingly complex plot with a surprising effect that will stick with the reader long after they are done reading it. The context of the plot found in “The School” presents the readers with the timeless question of the meaning of life. However, this question does not seem to present itself immediately to the reader. In order to appreciate Barthelme’s work in this piece, it is crucial that one utilizes the New Criticism’s approach to reading. New Criticism was first developed in the 20th century and it makes reading and interpreting literature a systematic activity. New Criticism as an analytical tool helps the readers to understand and gain insight into all forms of the written works through sheer understanding and by reading closely. This means that our focus

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