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Holding Things Together

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by

Megan Doucet

on 5 November 2013

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Transcript of Holding Things Together

Holding Things Together
Theme
Appreciate the good, not only in people but in life itself, instead of constantly criticising the bad.
Lucy is constantly picking on Alfred for his inability to fix things around the house
She no longer appreciates his charismatic figure like she once did.
She picks apart his flaws ensures he realizes that he is not what she thought he would be.
She wishes Alfred was like her father
Acts this way because her parents abandoned her
Anne Tyler’s short story shows us the consequences of living in a negative mind set.
Everyone involved is affected
Lucy dwells on the past and focuses on the negative aspects of Alfred when she should notice the positive
Plot Summary
23 year old student teacher Lucy falls in love with 38 year old principal, Alfred.
They marry but she finds she must do all the work around the house and Alfred is incapable of doing most jobs.
She completely picks him apart for not being what he should be and wants him to be more like her father or like the local mechanic, Joel.
Lucy becomes obsessed with how her perfectly fine car runs and nags Alfred about his old piece of junk.
She takes her car to the Exxon station 4 times throughout the story where we meet Joel a foil to Alfred.
Joel complains about his wife who resembles Alfred and it seems as though Joel and Lucy will have an affair.
Lucy visits her parents and we learn that she felt "orphaned" because they don't approve of her marriage.
When she returns Alfred had mowed the lawn for the first time but broke the lawn mower and Lucy and Alfred have an argument.
Lucy goes to Exxon and sees Joel unlike she's seen him before, and realises he's just a crabby guy filling her gas tank.
Makes Connection
-Greatly influenced by author Eudora Welty
"Reading Eudora Welty when I was growing up showed me that very small things are often really larger than the large things" -Anne Tyler

-The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty, 1953

-Rolling Stones - You can't always get what you want
Family
Anne Tyler was born the oldest of four children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Her mother was a social worker and her father a chemist
She married an Iranian psychiatrist and novelist by the name of Taghi Mohammad Modarressi, in 1963. They had two daughters together and in 1997 her husband passed away.

Career
She only attended school at the age of 11. She graduated from Duke University at the age of 19.
Despite being a best-selling novelist, she rarely ever made public appearances or accepted face-to-face interviews
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), was a finalist for Pulitzer Prize and the Faulkner Award in 1983.
In one of her very rare interviews with The New York Times, she refers to Eudora Welty as one of her huge inspirations.
“Reading Eudora Welty when I was growing up showed me that very small things are often really larger than the large things".
Quotes
“You’d think I’d be relived, but I wasn’t. If something is wrong, it can be fixed; then you know it won’t go wrong again for a while. But if nothing’s been pinpointed, if it’s just this nebulous feeling of error in your mind… I sighed and gripped my purse.” (p. 210)
“My car’s been running well lately, though I haven’t given up worrying.” (p. 213)

Sub theme 1
Sometimes what you want isn’t want you need.
Lucy is so concentrated on how manly and controlling she wishes her husband was
She often compares him to Joel a neighborhood mechanic and ex student of hers.
She is obsessed with the idea of a man being in charge and taking control.
She wishes Alfred was more practical and demonstrated authority in the household
Doesnt like holding the power in the house
The couple would be much happier if she prioritized her husbands qualities better
- “Oh Alfred, can’t you do something right?” (p. 212)
Sub Theme 2
Effort is more important than result.
Alfred is clearly making an effort in trying to please Lucy.
Example: Trash Bin, Lawn Mower
The effort is clearly there yet Lucy neglects to acknowledge it and only focuses and the wrong things he’s done in effort to complete the task.
This will not only discourage him from making further efforts but it is disrespectful and inconsiderate.
She should Focus on the Effort rather than only on the result
“Nothing I do will satisfy you. You always want everything perfect and you always do it yourself; or stand over me and nag and belittle, find fault with every move I make.” (p. 212)

Person vs. Self
A person’s struggle with his or her own prejudices or doubts or character flaws constitutes this type of conflict
Lucy struggles with her judgements on how a husband truly should be.
Lucy strongly believes that in a relationship the man should be in charge.
She feels that a man should change light bulbs and fix lawnmowers.
The doubts she has about Alfred's abilities as a husband and as a man are tearing her relationship apart.
Quote:
"Do you think i want the power? Take it! Why won't you take it? Do you think I'd hold it if anybody else would? Take it!"(p.213)
Person vs Person
An inherent incompatibility between the objectives of two characters
Lucy and Alfred are often fighting or bickering
Lucy's judgement on how a man truly should be is driving a wedge between her and her husband's relationship
This causes them to fight all the time
Lucy nit picks and finds every fault in her husband that she can. She nags and complains and ignores any and all good qualities in her husband.
Quote:
"Oh Alfred, can't you do something right? Will I always have to be the one?"(p.213)
Symbolism
The use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities.
Alfred's car is a symbol for his personality and mind frame.
His car is filthy with a thick layer of dust on the outside and scattered and messy on the inside.
There are broken pieces in the car and things that don't work the way they should.
These Messy and broken parts of the car give us some insight to Alfred's priorities.
Very unlike Lucy's car which she takes to get fixed with even the hint of a broken piece and she keeps spotlessly clean
Alfred is not someone who pride's himself on the condition of their car nor take good care of any of his possesions
When Lucy mentions that he should get a tune up, his reply is "this is a fine car" This proves the lack of regard Alfred gives to the things he should care about
Flashbacks
An interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point
Lucy has flashbacks throughout the entire story
This piece is centered around Lucy's flashbacks.
In her flashbacks she thinks back to times she needed to get her car fixed.
Lucy is often thinking back to times when Alfred does something wrong
In her first flashback she thinks back to april when her brakes were shrieking
In her next flashback she reflects on a time when an old friend came to visit her and her engine would give out on its own
Without Lucy's flashbacks there would not have been any kind of story line
Important Information
Main Fictional Elements
Conflict
Characters
Lucy
25 years old
Teacher
Pushy and nags her husband
Abandoned by parents
Alfred
40 years old
High-school principal
Always dresses formally
but messy and sloppy
Emasculated by Lucy
Between the 60s and 70s
Small town, USA
Takes place over the span of 2 years
Setting
Full transcript