Aspects of Postmodernism in "Happy Endings" and "Videotape"

1523 Words Dec 17th, 2006 7 Pages
Aspects of Postmodernism in "Happy Endings" and "Videotape"

According to Neil Bessner (Bessner), postmodernism is a "slippery term to define" (15). If we look at the literal meaning of the word in a regular dictionary, we may encounter something like "a style and movement in art […] in the late 20th century that reacts against modern styles, for example by mixing features form traditional and modern styles" . In fact, it has extended many of the fundamental techniques and assumptions of modern literature. A lot of aspects and characteristics of this relatively new current are well exposed in short stories such as "Happy Endings" by Margaret Atwood (Atwood) and "Videotape" by Don Delillo (Delillo). In this essay, we will first look at
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On the other hand, postmodernism appears as well in Atwood's themes. In this particular story, it is possible to observe her reject for western value. For instance, in the first ending, the one which she says is the happy ending, includes a lot of the important capitalist western values such as remunerative job, real estate values, challenging sex life, vacations, etc. They may appear in the happy ending, but at the end she says they are all fake and she is being satirical. She critiques those elements of contemporary society. According to Charlotte Sturgess, Atwood often discusses about gender relations in her writings (95). In "Happy Endings", she portrays a few couples' lives and it seems like she wants to show equality between sexes. Each ending has a different type of woman. In ending F, "a chronicle or our times" as she suggests, Mary is a counterespionage agent, we are far away from the canadian stay-at-home mother of the previous century. The last theme is the meaninglessness of life encountered in each ending. Atwood speaks of the death of her characters as if they were only sleeping, as if it was nothing really important. "Eventually they die. This is the end of the story" (37) and "She hope he'll discover her […] but this fails and she dies" (38). At the end of the story, Atwood says: "The only authentic ending is the one provided here: John and Mary die. John and Mary die. John and Mary die" (40). It

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