Themes In Birnam Wood, By T. C. Boyle

934 Words 4 Pages
The short story, “Birnam Wood,” by T.C. Boyle, explores a young man Keith’s fractured relationship with his girlfriend Nora from first person point of view. Keith reconnected with Nora by sending her “wheedling letters begging her” to come back to him, and she eventually obliged. They lived together in a rebuilt yet cramped chicken coop that had “creeping and greasy” mold on the corners, and no heating. Displeased with their living conditions, and faced with yet another dilemma -- seeing themselves evicted from the property. In their search for a new home, luck is on their side as Keith’s best friend Artie introduces them to an elderly couple who are going to their winter home in Florida and leaving New York. They wanted house sitters to keep …show more content…
Their relationship was interrupted when Keith visited Nora at her restaurant, sitting at the bar for hours, downing drinks like his liver was invincible, talking to stranger after stranger until he met Steve. After Steve inquired, “Wow, that your old lady?”, whistling lowly, Keith was bothered by the thought that he was tied down in his relationship with Nora. He quickly dispersed Keith’s thought, uttering detail after detail that they were not as committed as Steve had thought. Keith stated that Nora can be a “real pain in the ass,” and “more trouble than she's worth.” Now taking advantage of Keith’s drunkenness, Steve asks Keith for his address and phone number, later calling to see if Nora was there. Keith lied and said she was not there, but Steve made the trip to their basement anyway, carrying a bottle of tequila and a handwritten poem for Nora. Despite Keith’s efforts to hinder Steve’s advances on Nora, Nora defied him and spent hours with Steve. Dejected, Keith strolled around the neighborhood, gazing up at the other people in their rooms until he found another couple relaxing and reading books at their bedside table. Although he did not see them do anything too intimate, Keith felt guilty at the sight of the couple living in peace. As a character, Keith is immature. His story is in first person point of view, a mode of storytelling that sometimes shelters facts and feelings of the subject, yet he still admits that he felt frustrated with Nora often and started quibbles about petty things. Another point to note is that this is a memoir, and though some details could have faded from Keith’s memory, the events and scenery remain vivid in Keith’s description. Keith recounts the times he felt frustrated with Nora, from her forgetfulness, ability to lose things, blasé attitude towards finding a higher paying job, and her determination to talk to a man with

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