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Transcript of Fragility
By Carol Shields
This story is told from the point of view of Ivy's husband. He seems to be a loving, considerate and compassionate man. This is because throughout the story, we see him thinking about his wife before he makes decisions. Also, he shows sudden acts of compassion such as the kiss on Ivy's fingers. In this story Ivy's husbands name is never mentioned, nor is there any physical description of him.
Ivy is ready for something new and wants a fresh start, yet she is nervous of leaving the past behind. Ivy seems very cautious about which home she wants to buy, she wants to buy a house with a pleasant past. She shows this when she repeatedly rejects divorce houses. Ivy also works as an accountant. There is no physical description of Ivy in this story.
Christopher was the son of Ivy and her husband, he died at the age of about 15. He was deaf, blind, and had a weak body. His age was never directly stated, though we were able to infer it from details in the story.
By Jasleen, Jagatjit, and Isha
This story is set mainly in the city of Vancouver, as this couple searches for a new home that will hopefully replace their current beloved home in the city of Toronto. Although the time period is not specified, we can infer that this takes place sometime in the past; due to references of film photography, and the story was published in 1985
You can infer a sense of loss and confusion, both of which are mainly caused by a series of events that occurred in their lives. Specifically, these events are the death of their son, Christopher, and the transfer of Ivy’s husband's job from Toronto to Vancouver. Due to all this, they were confused as to what they should do to move on and improve their lives.
About the author
The conflict is one of man against self, revolving around the protagonists Ivy and her husband. They are in internal conflicts with themselves due to them having experienced the loss of their son, Christopher. Also, they learn that Ivy’s husband’s job has been transferred to Vancouver, and they will have to move in about three months. This has all placed a burden on their minds as to what they should do now and whether they can truly move on from the pain.
-Ivy and her husband are flying over the Rockies to Vancouver
-While on the flights, Ivy's husband recalls the conversation they both had when he first informed Ivy of the job transfer. He remembers all the feelings of sadness
-Ivy and her husband begin their search for the perfect home
-The first few houses were rejected due to bad vibes (divorce house, bankruptcy sale, etc)
-They eventually took a break at a nearby restaurant
-The next house they saw was one of a past movie idols where their mother held them up with conversation
-After leaving that house, the next few houses were also rejected due to being too large, having no garden, etc.
-Days passed, and still no house was chosen
-One day during the drive back to their hotel, they recall that the first house they visited and decide that it wasn't so bad
-They decide to revisit it, and conclude that they could fix it up and it would be perfect for them so they put in a deal
-The next day they were on a plane back to Toronto,and Ivy's husband has flashbacks of their son Christopher when he was alive
Climax: During a drive back to their hotel, they decide that they might not find a perfect house, and that the first one may have been the best.
Exposition: After having received a job transfer issue, Ivy and husband fly to Vancouver to search for potential home
The first few houses were rejected due to "bad vibes"
The couple decides to revisit the first house and after some thinking, conclude that they could fix up the house and it would be perfect. They put in a deal for the house
Resolution: The next day, the couple is on a flight back to Toronto. During this, Ivy's husband recalls memories about Christopher and wonders about their own house that will soon be sold.
List of events
Have you taken a look at life
Have you looked around
All the pain, loss and strife
Broken dreams litter the ground
Losing a close beloved one
Pain left for the years
We move on but never forget
The reasons we shed our tears
Even so, we move on
Gathering up our things
We dream of better days
Days when we can laugh and sing
Be it day or night
we give each other support
Saying "it will be alright,
You have my care and comfort"
A life ever delicate
The overall theme in this story is accepting change and adapting our lives after tragedy. We see this in two focal situations. The first one is the tragedy of Christopher's death. Ivy and her husband are greatly pained by this and have to learn to move on past this. We see signs of this in the husband, as he says that he is ready for anything.
The second area of distress is when the couple receives the news of the transfer. Here, they wish to stay in their home in Toronto, but they eventually realize that life in Vancouver might not be so bad.
Point of view
We see this story from a first person point of view through Ivy’s husband. Everything that we see, feel, and understand is either directly told to us by Ivy's husband or it is information that we can infer. We understand his thoughts and his feelings and see him and Ivy as the protagonists of the story. Through this, we gain an idea on what type of character Ivy's husband is and his values.
During the flight over the Rockies, Ivy's husband recalls the conversation
about the job transfer and all the feelings and thoughts
Ivy and her husband begin their
search for a "perfect" home
They decide to take a break at a nearby restaurant
The next house was a past house of a movie idol. Here, the couple was held up due to the idol's mother
After leaving the idol's house, the next few houses were also rejected due to different reasons
Days passed on, but still no house was chosen
Full name Carol Ann Shields, she is the author of the story "Fragility," an extract from the book "Various Miracles." Born on June 2, 1935, Carol Shields is an American born Canadian author who has written many short stories, poems, and novels. She is best known for her novel "The Stone Diaries." This novel won the US Pulitzer Prize for fiction as well as the Governor General's Award. She also won the Canadian Authors' Association Awards for the Best Novel of 1976 (Small Ceremonies).
Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Carol studied at Hanover College, Indiana. after, she spent a year abroad from 1955 to 1956 at the University of Exeter in England. Later, she did post-graduate work at the University of Ottawa where she received a Masters of Arts degree in 1975.
In 1955, Carol Shields had attended a study week in Scotland that was sponsored by the British Council. Here, she met and befriended a Canadian engineering student named Donald Hughes. Soon, Carol and Donald became a couple and married in 1957. They then moved to Canada where they had a son and four daughters.