Pappas Chest Of Drawers

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Lindsey R. Sims 11:00 MWF A lifetime of memories, once cherished, can be the reminiscing journey to death.

Papa's Chest of Drawers is a very symbolical short story. The author portrays everything in an abstract and unusual way. The reader must focus and concentrate on what the author is really trying to get across. This story can be interpreted in many different ways. As for myself, I have concluded that the majority of the story was based on death and one mans experience of reaching it. While having "death" in my mind while reading the story, it put me in a bad mood, and was drawn more and more to the negative aspect of the story. For example, the man looking through the drawers describes everything in his father's chest in such detail, and seems very interested in the memories that the possessions have made. Although he seems to focus on all of the bad things, instead of the good.

When describing the gloves found within the drawer, "These, too, had grown yellow and dry, had become lifeless from losing forever the warmth of the hands"(12), the man could have mentioned how he wished to see them on his mother again, or how he pictured how happy his parents were at his wedding, but he chose to bring out the bad things about the possessions in the drawer. When first reading that passage, the author mentioned "The tie was dead..."(13). I thought at first that his parents' marriage had failed and they no longer were in love with eachother, but as I read on I then realized that the mother had died from an illness. I also noticed that maybe the man favored his father over his mother, because he didn't seem so interested in looking in her drawer. He only looked in his father's.

Due to his mother's death he pointed out that "Side by side with these lovely things that now had their day, were ugly, uninteresting, coarse objects"(25), this statement is expressing how their marriage was great, full of happiness, and now that she has died, it has withered away just like the "withered branch from the pear tree, which dried up"(21). The man very much thinks of deep sinister thoughts of death, "Imagining a human throat, cut from ear to ear in one fell swoop by a mad barber, with streams of crimson, shiny blood pouring from the open moon shaped wound"(26). Perhaps why he sees death so negative is because it has affected him personally due to his mothers death. The mother is a very big part in the beginning of this story.

Although she may have passed away she still plays a role in how he perceives things due to her death. "In Mammas lacquered box, once a bright lemon color, but now faded, the magic picture of the Scythian steppes conjured up in my imagination with the sharp clack of the closing lid"(43). In my personal opinion it is representing her journey towards death. She once was a vibrant young lady but later, because of her illness, withered into something not so attractive, and then fell and couldn't get up, and then soon passed away. After her death I get the idea that she was cremated.

"Inoxerable deterioration or, anyway, transformation into something else--into the dust which ancient poets choose to call ashes"(11). This gives me, as the reader, a very big hint that his mother was turned into ashes after her death.

Life after his mothers death was nothing out of the ordinary. I believe that everyone has their own angel looking out for them at all times, and in my opinion, his mother is his angel. "I sensed its presence without being able to find it"(45). This, to me, is saying how his mother's spirit is there, and he knows it is, but he can't quit come to familiarity with the feeling. But he is glad to know that his mother is watching out for him.

Now I feel that there is a big turning point in the story. By reading, "All the time while I slept and did not breath"(59) this automatically makes me think of death. Of course one does not breath when dead. So therefore this statement makes me think that the man is now dying. And now everything is making sense. His mother's spirit is with him in his final moments of life, and is there to invite him to the heavens above to join her. I think the remainder of the story is just a description on his journey to heaven and the acquaints he reaches while going. "The silence that usually precedes an eclipse of the sun descended all around me. But I still did not believe it would really happen. The circle of the sun, as white and glaring as if it had been made of magnesium, retained its usual perfect geometric shape, as it floated high above me"(60). That statement symbolizes the "light at the end of the tunnel" theory. Why else would anyone pay so much attention to the "sun", if it was just another normal day? "I could not tear my eyes away from the dark sooty square of glass, the sharp white circle of the sun seemed alien and out of place in that strange, dim smoky world"(69). Not paying attention to anything but the light coming toward you gives me even more of a clue that he is in his final minutes of life. He can't tear away from the light coming closer and closer toward him. Any other person, not reaching their death, would not pay attention and would quickly turn away, but he is now dying and is in the final stages. His experiences are magical and unreal, and a great privilege to have such an image of dying. The next passage is the final stage of what I think he saw while completing the process of death. "And then I suddenly noticed a slight roughness, blurring its edge, then a black spot that gradually became transformed into an oval, white disc of the sun turned into a half-moon. A whiff of ice-cold air from high up in the heavens seemed to ruffle my hair as the shadow of the moon raced across the battle fields."(70) Now he has finally reached heaven but he doesn't quite know what is going on yet. He is now somewhere peaceful, and the "battle fields" is now the earth and all of its negativity that he has surpassed and moved on from. He realizes that something is strange, but doesn't know what is going on until..."Then I woke up and lay still, very still, Oh how long, indeed, my sleep must have been so strange to find myself alive and not dead in a world filled, too, with happiness, goodness and the joy of life"(59). He may think he is alive now, but he is dead, just in another world, what we call heaven. He is surrounded by peace, and is happier than ever. All of his problems are now solved.

I think everyone will have their own individual experience of their journey to death, but to experience his was extraordinary. I believe that he saw his life flashing before his eyes in his final minutes on earth. He remembered moments of his childhood and recollected memories of his parents and their great moments. How he died? We do not know, but we do know his exciting journey to the place where he now calls home.