Irony plays a major part in Raymond Carver’s Popular Mechanics. As the man tries to seize the infant from her, the woman accuses him of hurting the baby. The irony is that she, too, hurts the baby. In fact, both of them are hurting the baby. Both of them want the best for their child, but they are unconscious that the effect of their separation will greatly affect the kid. Like in many broken families, the child suffers the most. Another irony in the story is that the couple wants to part ways. However, as they fight over the baby, nobody wants to give in.
It is as if they are using the baby as an excuse to keep the separation at bay and waiting for anything that may change the break up to happen. Deep in their hearts, they don’t really want to separate after all. Compared to other stories with conventional style, the Popular Mechanics is different as the author uses unorthodox approach. What is unusual is the absence of the quotation marks for the direct speech in the conversation between the two main characters. This makes the story confusing because there is the tendency for the readers to mix up the narration with the dialog.
The story also is direct and unadorned with rhetorical devices, which are common to many stories and novels. Aside from that, the author stays neutral and does not express his own opinion to either of the characters. He acts like a camera that transmits what is happening as he sees it. He leaves the story open for the readers to come out with their own speculations and conclusion. The story gives a vivid picture of what is going on to many families nowadays. The plot is very common: separation of married couple leads to the demise of their child/children.
Due to its plainness, the story becomes insensitive. It is difficult to imagine a husband and a wife each pulling a hand of their infant. Although it is not indicated what happened to the infant, it is easy to assume that his tender limbs are impaired or, worse, detached. It is unfortunate that the settlement of the couple’s conflict is the demise of their child.
Carver, Raymond. Popular Mechanics. Online July 17, 2009 <http://www. uni-koeln. de/ew-fak/institut/engl/coit/essay/essayws5-6/carver. htm>
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