The Box Social And Celebration By James Reaney And W. D. Valgardson

1613 Words 7 Pages
Control can be a very fickle thing and often people seem to be dragged through life with no say on where they are going. When people attempt to regain the control that has slipped through their fingers, it can prove much more difficult than one would expect. Two authors who capture this in their writing are James Reaney and W. D. Valgardson, with their stories “The Box-Social” and “Celebration”. In the story “The Box-Social” a young woman named Sylvia is preparing a box for her small, rural farming town’s box-social. The next day, the young man who Sylvia designed the box for bids on her box and he opens it to reveal the corpse of a newborn child. This reveals that she was pregnant, which no one knew, and that the young man is the father. “Celebration” …show more content…
Sylvia keeps the child she conceives a secret, likely to prevent a scandal. Sylvia doesn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy, not even the father. She keeps him in the dark along with everyone else but also removes him from her life entirely until he receives the box with the baby inside and, “He [lifts] the lid and [sits] staring at what [lies] inside. His great hands unusually white on top of the green baize cardtable” (Reaney 2). White hands represent his innocence of both the knowledge of what lay in the box and of the child entirely. Her attempt for control, to keep everything to herself, was no doubt taxing emotionally and physically. To not risk her reputation she gave birth with no medical help, risking both her life and her child, and it cost her her baby’s life. Her attempts at control alienate her further and only add to her problem. Her most drastic mistake, though, is no doubt her plan for revenge. In a desperate gasp in control, she attempts to pay retribution to the man who impregnated her. In her lovely little box, she places, “... the crabbed corpse of a stillborn child wreathed in bloody newspaper” (Reaney 2). This act of revenge is clearly not well-planned and the result of the emotional and mental strain of going through her pregnancy alone. This act of revenge to take control throws all control out the window. Her secret is no longer a secret and she permanently damages the man she used to love. Sylvia’s …show more content…
The dreaded alcoholism that Eric experiences is shared by Mabel: “‘Don’t be so cheap’ she said… ‘Gimme a drink’” (Valgardson 60). This makes the chances of Eric shaking his dependency on alcohol far slimmer. Mabel drinking fuels his behaviour as well as solidifies in his mind that drinking like this is normal and not a problem. Mabel also doesn’t attempt to diffuse their conflicts but instead instigates Eric more. When he calls her a whore, she doesn’t remove herself from the situation. Instead, “Emboldened by the liquor, she [retorts], ‘That’s all you could get’” (Valgardson 61). She verbally attacks him back and escalates the fight further. Mabel continuously rises to match Eric’s aggression verbally and physically. Eric can get violent but so can Mabel. Her own aggressive tactics intensifies the fights into far more dangerous proportions: “Mostly, it [is] kicks and slaps but, sometimes, when she [turns] on him, they [fight] with fists and feet, teeth and nails” (Valgardson 60). Eric no longer sees his own actions as unhealthy because Mabel reflects them and retaliates. By no means should Mabel simply accept Eric’s abuse but her method of handling it only endangers both of their lives. No doubt, the other characters in “The Box-Social” and “Celebration” harbour some of the blame in influencing Sylvia and Eric’s choices. James Reaney and W.D. Valgardson’s characters, Sylvia and Eric, are both desperate individuals

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