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“Ice Break” by Astrid Blodgett Essay

Ice Break is a short story from the anthology “The Journey Prize Stories 24” written by Astrid Blodgett in 2012. We don’t know exactly where the story takes place, but we know it is some place cold, because there is ice on the lake, and snow on the roads. It could very possibly be Canada since Blodgett is Canadian. It takes place in modern times, and we know this because there are modern day things like televisions and cars.

The story is about a family of 5. Mom, dad, and three daughters. They seem to have a good relationship overall, but we get a sense that something is unusual about their relationship. First of all, they have family meetings, where they have discussions about what parent is going to be with what child. Dawn, the narrator, says that these family meetings never really work, because the kids can never decide what, or with whom they want to be around. Another thing that hints to the reader that this family has some issues is what Marla says before they head to the lake. She hints to her sisters that her parents were going to be like their old neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Pichowsky. The Pichowskys divorced a year before, and the mother moved far away from the dad, and took the children with her. Marla is the oldest sister. We know this because she has a job as a babysitter, wears a lot of makeup, and dawn describes that, as they eat Saturday morning brunch, they sit in a row, tallest to shortest.

Oldest to youngest, and here Marla is mentioned first. Therefore she must be oldest, since we know for a fact that Janie is the youngest. Janie is nine years old, and she does not want to go on the ice fishing trip at first, but Dawn bribes her with five dollars. Janie is not a smart as her sisters, probably because she is younger. Dawn knows she can convince Janie to go if she just bribes her, since five dollars is a lot if you are nine years old. Janie also doesn’t understand when Marla jokes about the Pichowskys, again she doesn’t think like her older sisters. The mother of the family is very protective. She tells them to be careful on the ice, and she does not want to go with them out on the lake, because it is too risky. The mother is also very emotional. She is incredibly sad, after the death of her husband and daughter. Any mother would be. But she does not seem to blame anyone. She knows Dawn bribed Janie with five dollars, but still is not upset with Dawn, even after she sees the five-dollar bill in Janie’s pockets. Both Dawn and Marla seem very sad about their loss. But Dawn does not mention any of them crying, only their mother.

But we do know that Dawn wishes they would wake up “I looked at their chests for the longest time waiting for them to move up and down.”1 And we know that Marla feels very bad about the reference she made to the Pichowskys. “I asked Marla, when mom wasn’t near, what she meant about the Pichowskys, and she said she didn’t remember. But her face turned bright pink, so I knew she knew.” The two sisters might be in a state of shock. It is very odd that they don’t even seem that affected by it.  The whole family is very loved in their community. Marla says, after the funeral, that their home is like a flower shop. Meaning they must have gotten a lot of flowers from friends and family. The fathers name is Sam. Sam seems, at first, like a pretty careless person. He does ‘nt care if it’s dangerous to go ice fishing, he still goes. He’s a bit of a thrill seeker. At the beginning of the story he seems very annoyed and cranky, and acts like he does not want anyone to go with him on the fishing trip. But when the accident happens, he is doing everything he can, to try and save his daughters lives. Dawn thinks for a while he is still angry, as the truck s sinking, but eventually she realizes he is not. “Dad’s not angry. He’s frightened.” As mentioned earlier Dawn is the narrator, and she is also the protagonist.

She is very cautious. For example when the father turns a little too quickly on the road, she grabs the dashboard very quickly “..and I grabbed on, handprints like claws.” She also gets very stunned when the truck is sinking into the water. She describes it very graphically, and like everything is in slow motion. “His face is red and is moth is moving like he’s shouting, but I cant hear anything. I’ve gone deaf. His eyes are close to my face and bulging.“ She can’t move, and she can’t speak for a while, but eventually she snaps out of it and escapes the water. Themes of this story are: family love and sacrifice. This story is about a family who, even though they had issues, loved each other very much. Sam sacrifices himself to try and save his two daughters from drowning, because of the endless love he has for them. The two older daughters now only have their mother, and she must now remain strong for the sake of her family. Therefore she tries to only look on the positive side of everything, and never mention the bad stuff. “Mom said over and over, at least he (the father) was doing something he loved.” She gives her everything to stay strong for her children.

The structure of the story is a little different than most. It has two story lines, being described along each other, the accident, and what happened before the accident. Then at the end, they both merge together, at the funeral. The story has a lot of small paragraphs, and it switches from, ‘the accident’ to the ‘before the accident’ back and forth. Some paragraphs are longer than others; especially the ones ‘before the accident’ are quite long. First paragraph is from after they’ve left to go fishing, but before the actual accident. Then there’s a long paragraph introducing the family (before the accident), and the next paragraph jumps right into the moment where the truck is actually sinking, and Dawn feels stunned. Then the story jumps back and forth between the these two, until the point in the, ‘before the accident’ story line, where Sam drives the truck into the lake, and the story line is now caught up with what is happening ‘during the accident’. The story ends on a very sad note, with a description of the aftermath of the ice fishing accident.

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