Analysis Of Helen Cooper's Short Story 'Pretending To Know The Words'

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Depression is one of the most common mental diseases as more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from the disease. But at the same time, it is a disease that is rarely discussed as, in many societies, it is involved with a taboo. However, in recent years, dialogue surrounding the mental disease has become a lot more common as writers such as Helen Cooper adds to the dialogue through writing. In the short story “Pretending to Know the Words”, which was published in the anthology Bath Short Story Award Anthology in the year of 2014, British author Helen Cooper takes on the topic of the mental disease through the main character Luis’ struggle with depression. This essay will analyse and interpret Cooper’s short story with a particular focus …show more content…
Here, Luis cannot cope with calling his mother, whom he has not called for a while, which is evidence of the loss of energy to do daily activates, such as making a phone call, that follows depression. Another symptom of depression expressed in the short story is the guilt that Luis feels over his success as a football player. Luis, even though he has always dreamed of becoming a successful football player, feels guilty of his success as he feels that he is not worthy of it:
“He tried to recall how the stadium had vibrated with that name not so long ago. But Luis’ warning voice filled his head, hissing that he had no business in a place like this.”
The guilt that Luis feels over his success as a football player is also an expression of one of the short story’s other main themes. Luis’ guilt is an indicator of the personal struggles that he experiences as a result of the multiple aspects of his identity – the successful footballer Recoba and the struggling Luis who misses his mother and home country of Uruguay terribly. Additionally, these motifs further enhance the short story’s main themes of depression and identity, while they at the same time give the short story a realistic perspective as these feelings are shared by other people struggling with
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Cooper makes use of several narrative techniques to give the short story a realistic touch such as fragmentation as well as foreshadowing. Cooper’s use of fragmentation is expressed through the short story’s non-chronological course of events. Two plots parallel to make up the short story’s course of events as both Luis on his sofa and Luis at an earlier football game are depicted. This technique symbolizes the jumbled mess that is Luis’ thoughts while it at the same time diverts the reader’s attention from the real plot as well as mislead the reader about the main character. The intentional diversion from the real plot of the short story is further complemented by Cooper’s use of foreshadowing. Throughout the short story, several red herrings are given by Cooper such as when Luis watches his own football game on the television in his

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