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Helen on Eighty-Sixth Street
Transcript of Helen on Eighty-Sixth Street
Vita has a lot of trouble with letting go of her father and writes letters to him all the time and stores them in show boxes. In the story, Vita discovers how the Greeks used to make sacrifices to the gods to get what they wanted, so she decides to sacrifice her letters. While doing this, she wishes for the part of Helen, and for her father to come home. Her first wish turns out to come true and the girl playing Helen gets chicken pox and can not play the part anymore, so Vita is given the part. At the opening night of the play, Vita performs, and on her last statement, she is supposed to emotionally give her apologies to the city of Troy in vain, and cry out loud, but instead of crying out loud, she replaces it with a simple goodbye to the city. This is the climax of the story and can be interpreted to her "letting go" of her father, which is the resolution, as the conflict is resolved, and she looses her hopeless attachment to her father. Setting: The story's setting is a modern urban/suburban area, with eight-sixth street as the street Vita lives on, as well as her Elementary school where the play is held. Mood: The mood of this short story is is a jealous sort of resenting feeling. This is the mood because Vita is jealous of Helen. "I hate Helen. That's all I can say. I hate her.... So I can't play Helen. But to make it even worse, Mr. Dodd said I had to be in the horse." (Kaufman 1). This quote represents the mood because it shows how Vita is jealous of Helen, as she can't have her part. Point of View: This short story is told in first person point of view from the narrator, Vita. Protagonist: The protagonist is Vita, the narrator. She goes through a few minor changes and a major change. She'd been waiting for her father to come back for years. Once she realized he wasn't coming back she was very resentful towards him. At the end she is finally at peace with her father. Antagonist: The antagonist is Helen McGuire. She held the part in the play Vita so desperately wanted, Helen of Troy, until she finally had to give it up. Allusion
There are a lot of allusions in the story, but the biggest one is the play they are doing is alluding to the Ancient Greek Trojan war. And the narrator is always referencing Helen, the Princess who started the entire war.
An allusion in the story with Greek lore (also connecting to the conflict) is when at the end Vita can hear the beating of swan's wings. "I look into the darkened house, and for a second, I can hear the beating of swan's wings, and, then, nothing at all"(Kaufman 7).
Vita's mom at one point says Vita's father is a "Lotus Eater" because he seems to have forgotten about them. The Lotus Eaters were stories about the Odyssey where people would eat from the lotus tree and forget about their home and family.
Another allusion is Vita's dog is named Argus. It is alluding to Odysseus's dog. In the story when Odyssey returns home Argus is the only one who recognizes him. Conflict: The conflict of this story was an internal conflict within Vita. Vita can't let go of her father and won't accept the fact that he is gone and will not come back. The conflict is finally resolved at the end and she lets him go. The theme of this story is s person should let go and move on. Theme