and an excerpt from A Million Little Pieces

Kate Chopin (1894)
Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted
with a heart trouble, great care was taken to
break to her as gently as possible the news of her
husband's death.
It was her sister Josephine who told her,
in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in
half concealing. Her husband's friend Richards
was there, too, near her. It was he who had been
in the newspaper office when intelligence of the
railroad disaster was received, with Brently
Mallard's name leading the list of "killed." He had
only taken the time to assure himself of its truth
by a second telegram, and had hastened to
forestall any less careful, less tender friend in
bearing the sad message.
She did not hear the story as many
women have heard the same, with a paralyzed
inability to accept its significance. She wept at
once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her
sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent
itself she went away to her room alone. She
would have no one follow her.
There stood, facing the open window, a
comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank,
pressed down by a physical exhaustion that
haunted her body and seemed to reach into her
She could see in the open square before
her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver
with the new spring life. The delicious breath of
rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler
was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song
which some one was singing reached her faintly,
and countless sparrows were twittering in the
There were patches of blue sky showing
here and there through the clouds that had met
and piled one above the other in the west facing
her window.
She sat with her head thrown back upon
the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except
when a sob came up into her throat and shook
English 12
J. Turner
her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep
continues to sob in its dreams.
She was young, with a fair, calm face,
whose lines bespoke repression and even a
certain strength. But now there was a dull stare
in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off
yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It
was not a glance of reflection, but rather
indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.
There was something coming to her and
she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She
did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to
name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky,
reaching toward her through the sounds, the
scents, the color that filled the air.
Now her bosom rose and fell
tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize
this thing that was approaching to possess her,
and she was striving to beat it back with her will-as powerless as her two white slender hands
would have been. When she abandoned herself a
little whispered word escaped her slightly parted
lips. She said it over and over under her breath:
"free, free, free!" The vacant stare and the look of
terror that had followed it went from her eyes.
They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast,
and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed
every inch of her body.
She did not stop to ask if it were or were
not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and
exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the
suggestion as trivial. She knew that she would
weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands
folded in death; the face that had never looked
save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead.
But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long
procession of years to come that would belong to
her absolutely. And she opened and spread her
arms out to them in welcome.
There would be no one to live for during
those coming years; she would live for herself.
There would be no powerful will bending hers in
that blind persistence with which men and
women believe they have a right to impose a
private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind
intention or a cruel intention made the act seem
no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief
moment of illumination.
And yet she had loved him--sometimes.
Often she had not. What did it matter! What
could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the
face of this possession of self-assertion which
she suddenly recognized as the strongest
impulse of her being!
"Free! Body and soul free!" she kept
Josephine was kneeling before the closed
door with her lips to the keyhold, imploring for
admission. "Louise, open the door! I beg; open
the door--you will make yourself ill. What are
you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the
"Go away. I am not making myself ill." No;
she was drinking in a very elixir of life through
that open window.
Her fancy was running riot along those
days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days,
and all sorts of days that would be her own. She
breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It
was only yesterday she had thought with a
shudder that life might be long.
She arose at length and opened the door
to her sister's importunities. There was a
feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried
herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She
clasped her sister's waist, and together they
descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for
them at the bottom.
Some one was opening the front door
with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who
entered, a little travel-stained, composedly
carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been
far from the scene of the accident, and did not
even know there had been one. He stood amazed
at Josephine's piercing cry; at Richards' quick
motion to screen him from the view of his wife.
When the doctors came they said she had
died of heart disease--of the joy that kills.
Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour”
demonstrates how the hidden desire of selfassertion over-powers the nature of a true,
loving marriage. When Mrs. Mallard hears about
her husband’s death, her reaction dramatically
changes from acceptance, wild abandonment,
storms of grief, to something startling. This
momentous situation releases her from
constrained freedom, opening a Pandora’s Box to
things she had never dared to think about until
now. Though she tries to resist the forbidden joy
by “beat[ing] it back with her will,” (line 49) she
is soon overwhelmed by her imaginations
“running riot”. This excerpt exemplifies the
overly oppressive control of marriage in the late
1800s. Just like Mrs. Mallard, despite the loss of
her loved one, women will “enjoy” the
opportunity of independence as “all sorts of days
[will] be [their] own.”(Line 42)
In “Story of an Hour,” Author Kate Chopin
employs numerous techniques to illustrate a
woman’s overwhelming sense of freedom in the
late 1800s. By using the third-person omniscient
point-of-view, readers are allowed to understand
the protagonist’s deep-seated feelings. Spring,
the season incorporated in the story, contributes
to the feelings of rebirth and new life. Also, with
the series of meaningful short paragraphs, the
“Story of an Hour” leaves a strong impact in
reflecting Mrs. Mallard’s last “hour” of life. The
use of personification and metaphors, such as,
“delicious breath of rain” also illustrates a more
vivid description of Mrs. Mallard enjoying the
fresh taste of her free life. The repetition of
words and phrases related to freedom and joy
further emphasizes the importance of Mrs.
Mallard’s new life. For instance, as Chopin
surprises the readers with Mrs. Mallard’s
startling reaction towards her husband’s death
when she utters, “free, free, free!”(Line 42-43)
Furthermore, the identical parts of the two
sentences, “she breathed a quick prayer that life
might be long. It was only yesterday that she had
thought with a shudder that life might be long,”
foreshadowing the ironical ending of the story,
death of Mrs. Mallard “of heart disease --- of joy
that kills”(line 85) after seeing her husband’s
return. Finally, Chopin’s use of the oxymoron,
“the joy that kills” can be understood as the “joy”
of seeing her husband or the hidden joy of
independence that eventually kills her.
By James Frey
Note: indentation & capitalization (“People” in the
last paragraph) follows the original – J.T.
I sit alone at a table. It's dark and I don't know
where I am or how I got here. There are bottles
of liquor and wine everywhere and on tile table
in from of me is a large pile of white cocaine and
a huge bag of yellow crack. There is also a torch,
a pipe, a tube of glue and an open can filled with
I look around me. There is blackness, there is
alcohol, there are drugs. There is an abundance
of all of them. I know I'm alone and there is no
one to stop me. I know I can do as much as I want
of whatever I want. As I reach for one of the
bottles, something inside of me tells me to stop,
that what I'm doing is wrong, that I can't do it
anymore, that I'm killing myself. I reach 'anyway.
I grip the bottle, bring it to my lips and take a
long deep draw that burns my mouth, my throat
and my stomach. For the briefest instant I feel
complete. The pain I carry with me disappears. I
feel comfortable and at rest, confident and
secure, calm and composed. I feel good.
Goddamn it, I feel fucking good.
The feelings are gone as quickly a they came and
l' want them back. I don't care what I have to do,
what I have to take, what I have to endure. I'll do
anything. I just want them to come back.
I take another drink. It doesn't work. I grab a
different bottle, take a larger drink. It doesn't
work. I seize bottle after bottle, take drink after
drink, nothing works. Instead of feeling better, I
feel increasingly worse. Everything I felt that was
good has become bad and it has been magnified
beyond any point of reference or comprehension.
My only option is to try and kill. Kill what hurts.
Kill it.
I switch to the drugs. I take a deep breath and I
bury my face in the pile of coke and I inhale and
my nostrils turn to fire and the back of my throat
becomes an inferno. I take a breath, inhale, take a
breath, inhale, take a breath, inhale. Too much
too fast and my nose starts bleeding. I wipe the
blood away and I take a breath and I inhale. I do
it again. The killing has started, but I'm not close
to being done.
I rip open the bag of crack and I pullout a handful
of small yellow rocks. I wipe the blood again and
I snatch the pipe, which is a long straight piece of
glass and a screen filter and I start stuffing rocks
into it. I fill it, wipe the blood again, fire up the
torch, put the pipe in my mouth, bring the white
flame to its tip. I inhale. Hot peppermint honey
mixed with napalm followed by a rush a
thousandfold stronger than the purest powder, a
thousandfold more dangerous. I hold and the
rush gains speed and power and it grows,
consumes and overwhelms me. I feel good again,
perfect, magnificent and invincible, like the
power of every orgasm I've ever had, could ever
have and will ever have has been concentrated
into a single moment. Oh my God, I'm coming. Oh
my fucking God, I'm coming. Let it come let it
come let it come let it come. Let it fucking come.
It's gone as fast as it came' and I know it's gone
for good, replaced by fear, dread and a
murderous rage. Any pretense of experiencing
pleasure disappears. I grab rocks, stuff the pipe,
hit. I grab rocks, stuff the pipe, hit. The torch is
white and the glass is pink and I feel the skin of
my fingers bubbling but it doesn't bother me. I
grab rocks, stuff the pipe, hit. I do it until the bag
is empty and then I stuff the bag into the pipe
and I smoke the plastic. I have a murderous rage
and I need to kill. Kill my heart, kill my mind, kill
There is glue and there is: gasoline and I want
them both: I grab the glue and I put the end of
the tube below my nose and I lay a thick line on
the skin between my nostrils and my lip. Each
breath brings the stench of Hell and death, each
breath brings on the desire for more. I am killing
quickly and efficiency now, but nor quickly or
efficiently enough. I lean over and place my nose
just above the shimmering surface of the
gasoline and. I stare into the face of chemical
annihilation. This face is my friend, my enemy
and my only option. I take it.
Breathe in, breathe out, go faster and faster and
faster and faster. I don't feel anything anymore
or what I do feel is so powerful that my mind and
my body are incapable of allowing it to register. I
am comfortable here. This is what I want, what I
need and what I must have, and this is where I
have been living the last few years of my life.
I realize that I'm cold and I snap and I open my
eyes. The Room is dark and quiet. A clock near
John's bed reads six-fifteen. I can hear Warren
snoring. I sit up and I rub my body and I shiver.
Goose pimples cover my arms and the hair on
the back of my neck stands straight and I'm
scared scared of my dream, scared of the
morning, cared of this place and the People in it,
scared of a life without drugs and alcohol, scared
of myself, cared to deal with myself, scared of the
day that lies ahead, scared shitless, scared out of
my mind.
I'm scared and I’m alone and it's early in the
morning and no one is awake yet.
James Fray’s semi-fictional memoir A
Million Little Pieces portrays James as a
dangerously troubled and depressed drug addict.
Since being in the rehabilitation center James has
been deprived of using drugs therefore he is
being haunted by vivid dreams of his urge to use
drugs and alcohol. He is “scared of a life without
drugs and alcohol” because he has become so
dependent over the substances. Drugs separated
him from his personal relationships therefore he
wakes up from his nightmare feeling scared and
alone. Although he is not physically alone since
he is sleeping by two other addicts who share his
rehab room, he feels mentally alone and craves
drugs to fill that void of loneliness. James
obviously carries a lot of mental pain and tries to
self medicate through the use of alcohol and
narcotics to “try and kill. Kill what hurts” on the
inside. Through his dream readers learn how
deeply disturbed James is. In James’s dream he
realizes he is “alone and there is no one to stop”
him from taking as much drugs as his body can
handle. Keeping James in the Rehab center is a
way to protect him from his impulsive desires
since being unsupervised and alone is a sure way
that he will binge on drugs and possibly kill
himself. For example in the dream where he is
“alone and there is no one to stop [him]” he takes
in every drug he can to numb the pain he feels.
This passage from A Million Little Pieces
by James Fray uses imagery and somber tone to
express James’ character. The author uses
descriptive words to illustrate to the readers
what’s going through James’s subconscious mind
throughout the dream. Although it is a dream, we
get a clear sense of the kind of pessimistic person
James is through how he behaves and the
thoughts that race through his head. He
describes what drugs he uses, how many he uses
and how he feels before and after use to show
how drugs have grabbed a hold of his life and
now control him. For the majority of readers
who have not experienced drugs or do not have
an addictive personality the dream can show
them what addiction does to the mind. This
paints us a realistic picture of how something as
dangerous as drugs can be therapeutic and
needed by a drug addict. The attitude of this
excerpt is very somber and depressing. The dark
mood is felt all throughout the passage as the
author writes all the self-destructive thoughts
James is having while overdosing on drugs and
again revisits those same thoughts when he is
sober and awake. No matter what state James is
in he consistently carries the same morbid
thoughts. The author uses uncensored explicit
language to realistically show James’s raw
thoughts and not hold back from using graphic
detail to set the gloomy mood.
By Kitty Sewell
Moose Creek, 1992
Dafydd's fingers were embedded in the
armrests, his knuckles white. The tiny plane
seemed to be dropping vertically towards the
ground, then bounced along the tarmac like a
flat stone skimming across a pond. Finally it
swayed wildly before slowing to a stop near the
end of the runway. Dafydd exhaled gradually,
gave thanks to some higher entity and shook his
hands to restore circulation. He gathered up his belongings, smiled at
the sturdy stewardess who emphatically herded
him and three other passengers towards the
ambulatory stairs. There was an urgency in the
dispatch as the plane was on its way to Resolute,
the last outpost to the North Pole. As Dafydd
stepped out of the plane, the heat felt like a wall.
The air was dense, motionless. Within seconds
he felt clammy. A steady low hum permeated the
stillness, the apparent buzz of insects, although
none was visible to the eye. ,
Two taxis were waiting outside the prefab
terminal building. Dafydd's fellow travellers
quickly nabbed the cleanest of the two.The one
remaining was a battered old Chrysler Valiant an automobile he'd admired as a boy - with a
nasty dent on the front bumper. Dafydd raised
his eyebrows, and the woman behind the wheel
nodded. He grasped his two suitcases and lugged
them towards the car.
'I'll be damned,' drawled the woman in a
thick, unrecognizable accent as she attempted to
help Dafydd load the cases into the boot, 'you'll
be staying with us for a coon's age, by the looks
of ya.'
'Yep, for ten months.' Dafydd smiled back
at her jowly grin and got into the passenger seat,
which was furred up with dog hairs.
'Watcha ... working for the forestry?' The
woman jumped in and stared at him
'No,' he said firmly as he sensed he was in
for a grilling. 'Could you take me to the Klondike
'Gotcha.' She revved up the engine and
tore out of the gravelly parking lot, leaving
billowing dust mountains in the still air.
'Watcher business, mister?' she insisted,
giving his immaculate navy suit a good
inspection. 'That there fancy gerrup is gonna
look mighty sorry in a day or two,' she chuckled.
'What do you suggest I wear?' Dafydd said
testily, watching his trouser legs sucking up the
dog hairs as if by osmosis.
'That 'pends on you job, mister,' she tried
again, 'and you ain't neither trapper or logger.'
S];le cackled heartily at this assertion and then,
taking her eyes off the road entirely, she turned
to him to wait for an answer.
'I'm a doctor,' he quickly informed her.
'Right on!' She squealed in delight. 'That's
what I figgered.' She swerved slightly to miss the
ditch. 'No one ain't so glad to meet you as me, I
do declare.' She detached a chubby hand from
the steering wheel and grasped Dafydd's in a
hearty grip. 'I'm Martha Kusugaq. I've got a
canker on my foot that's hurting· real bad. It
makes driving a real pain in the ass. Look.' She
reached down and popped off her shoe to show
him a pus-filled growth on the side of her instep.
'Bad one,' Dafydd agreed and fixed his
eyes on the bumpy, curvy road ahead, hoping
she would do the same.
'You'll be at the clinic tomorra?' she asked,
turning to him expectantly.
'I expect so.' His first patient ... already!
'OK, tomorra then. Got yerself a date.' She
slipped the shoe back on her foot. 'Them docs
we got here are shit, I don' mind telling ya. You
ask me anything an I'll give you the lowdown.'
She was obviously hoping for a barrage of
questions, but when none was forthcoming she
looked at him again from under her fringe and
asked with a hint of suspicion: 'What kinda cause
brings a nice-looking guy like yerself to this neck
0' the woods?'
There was absolutely no reason to get
ruffled, he told himself. Nobody knew anything
about his background, apart from a
straightforward CV. The hospital director, Dr
Hogg, hadn't even checked his references.
Anyway, he felt sure that if they knew why he
was here, it wouldn't have mattered in the least.
Young surgeons didn't come to Moose Creek for
a lark.
Martha studied him with undisguised
curiosity, waiting for his response.
'Why do you ask that?' he enquired
teasingly to mask his discomfort. 'Are you saying
this isn't a fit place for a nice bloke like me?'
'Bloke?' Martha cackled. She put her foot
hard on the brake to avoid a small furry animal
darting across the road. 'Oh, it's an all right place,
for the likes of me anyway. Around here we call
this the assho ... backside of the world.' She
turned to him in that direct way she had. 'They
all come here cos they got no place else to go.
Work-wise, that is.'
'You know ... doctors.'
Dafydd felt his jaws clench involuntarily.
'Have we got far to go?'
'See, we've got our own kinda medicine. I
picked up a few tricks from my granny.' Again
she gave him her sideways glance and chuckled
low in her throat. 'Bet I could teach you a thing
or two.'
He capitulated and burst out laughing. So
did she. He felt sort of acknowledged; as a
human being at least, seeing as all doctors were
shit (if only she knew).
'Should I start to worry?' he asked. 'You're
taking me an awfully long way.'
'Mind you watch yerself, good-looking kid
like you~ There are plenty wimmin who
wouldn't mind getting their sticky paws on you,
I can tell ya. Watcha ... thirty, if a day?'
He smiled. 'Close, but I'm not telling.'
He looked her over surreptitiously. She
was somewhere between forty and fifty. There
was no doubting that she was an indigenous
Indian. Her head and neck were stout, sitting
comfortably on broad, padded shoulders. Coarse
black hair was braided in a single plait down her
back. Her bust was small in relation to her pot
belly; thinnish muscular legs were encased in
some type of leggings. But she had a smooth,
fresh face and her eyes had a mischievous gleam
to them.
The novel "Ice Trap" by (kitty Sewell,
2006) is a novel about a young surgeon named
Dafydd Woodruff who is astonished by the
arrival of unexpected news. News told that in a
remote town named Moose Creek where he had
worked and lived 15 years prior, had fathered
twins, putting his marriage at risk.
The theme of nice people finish last is
acknowledged, particularly in this excerpt by
Dafydd, who moves to Moose Creek to work as a
surgeon. On his way he comes across two
obnoxious men who steal two taxi's
simultaneously, leaving Dafydd with an old
battered Chrystler Valiant (a car from 1966), and
let the two men off the hook without so much as
a word. Inside the taxi he encounters a talkative
and very high-strung woman, Martha. Dafydd
had to put up with her personal questions,
terrible driving, and at some point is told "they
all come here cos they got no place else to go"
(pg. 32). This excerpt demonstrates, when in the
presence of a nice person, you feel more free to
speak your mind.
Kitty Sewell shows many writing
techniques to enhance the reader's enjoyment.
First off she uses descriptive language to put
detailed images within the readers mind. For
example the author describes Martha's features
in fine detail, like "puss-filled growth on the side
of her instep" (pg. 31) and "her bust was small in
relation to her pot belly" (pg. 33). The
descriptive language used by the author really
helps reveal the environment that is trying to be
instilled into the readers mind. Kitty Sewell also
uses colloquial language, like when Martha says
"that pends on job, mister" (pg. 30), which gives
a very realistic element to the reader. Finally
Kitty Sewell expresses the story in narrative
form, which allows the reader to concentrate on
other aspects of the story, rather than just one
section at a time, like when the novel goes from
2006 where Dafydd is at home with his wife, to
1992 where he is working in Moose creek. The
author's use of such techniques really helps
make the reader feel like their apart of the story.