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The world we live in today is crazy, there is no guarantees and usually no second chances. If there is one thing I can learn from the short story “What The Dead Know” by Manuel Martinez, is you can never take anything for granted. However, there are multiple little lessons you can learn while reading. There is one main underlying theme. The story is about a wave of those whom have passed away within a certain time frame, coming back to life.
Although within the story the reasons why this is occurring is discussed, it has little to do with the moral of the story. The underlying meaning of this literary work would be to appreciate what you have, when you have it. Martinez communicates this throughout the short story using fictional properties and components such as the unrealistic plot and characters.
This short story, on the surface, is about resurrected dead people and how much they know what they want within this short life they’ve been given the chance to live once more.
On the second page, Manuel writes that “Those who have risen from the dead instantly understood their situation in a way we couldn’t”. His specific word choice and sentence structure has made the tone of the topic supernatural and fiction. The sentence in the story demonstrates giving the dead a second chance to either make things right with their family or even a new outlook on life. It was also given us as readers and opportunity to solve a puzzle within the short story.
With that sentence, as readers we now know that those specific characters will have a big effect on when it comes to solving the theme.
Later in the story, it is uncovered that the situation is reversible, and the process of doing so will be executed. This plot also plays a big role in the author’s way of writing out the theme of the story. The story is from the point of view of someone who is experiencing this situation first hand, so we can gather that the story is in the third person narrative. This narrative voice allows us as readers to take what the message is more seriously. As humans, we generally listen more to advice from people who have experienced something first hand. The narrator speaks about his aunt who rose from the dead along. This gives us an inside look into the story, which helps the reader relate to the story. She, along with all the other formally dead people, know that her time on earth again is limited. She spends her time with the family she loves and takes care of them. She knows that not sugar coating things in a necessary means for growth. At the same time however, she picked her battles wisely. His aunt was a character that shaped the mini-themes of this short story. Being that many times you just have to pick the battles that are worth fighting, and brush away the ones that are not. Always be kind, but be honest more. In the long run, his aunt also shaped the main theme of cherishing the moments you have with someone. It is guaranteed that when his aunt first passed away, they thought they would never see her again. They probably wished they would have cherished their time with her more. So much so, that he apologized to her once she was back. They got a fictional and unrealistic chance to do so. In our real world where immortality is fake, we must learn this lesson of being grateful for what we have now very quickly. This gives a false sense of hope, because it gives you time to correct your wrongs which rarely happens.
This short story shows a parallel to life in consistently having things that suggest that humans want what they cannot have and turn away to what is available to them. This is human nature at its finest, but it does not excuse this sort of behavior. In “What The Dead Know”, you have both ends of the spectrum. Those who had neglected their families when alive were desired then, however when they had awaken, their widow’s had been accustomed to the lack of a husband and did not necessarily desire that presence any longer. This shows the importance in the story of growth between a widow learning her worth, and the absent husband left with regrets.
The author of “What The Dead Know” did a wonderful and effective job regarding using fictional writing techniques to execute a specific theme throughout a short story. By using characters, narrative voices, point of views, and a thought-provoking plot, Martinez successfully made a theme that is applicable in our daily lives. It was clear throughout the passage that the characters should cherish every minute of their lives, and spend it with the people you love. Martinez demonstrates that the future is indefinite and life can come to an end in a instance. It is a lesson everyone a should listen very closely to and use in their lives.
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