Many people suffer from their actions in captivity and can only dream about the world outside. Meanwhile, a butterfly is free to spread its wings and fly away. Captivity is the most difficult when the world outside continues, and the ones you love lives go on. In this short story “Sorry for the loss” by Bridget Keehan, we meet Victor, a young man suffering from his actions in prison, and a chaplain Evie. Evie has to bring Victor the news of his nan’s dead.
The atmosphere in the prison intimidates Evie, and all the noises make her feel insecure and uncomfortable. When the prisoners are out, she has some quiet time on her own, which she treasures. (p 3, l 30-32) She is religious and finds a lot of peace in her prayers. (p. 3, l 35-36) She puts herself in other people’s shoes and tries to understand how the prisoners feel. Evie is very caring, and therefore she gets nervous when she has to bring the news of Victor’s dead nan because she is afraid that he will get upset.
Victor is very young and has a criminal past, which makes her feel sorry for him. Victor is not as religious as Evie, even though he is a catholic, he is not very practicing. He is keen to experience new things, such as religions, for instance, he asks for the imam when he receives the news of his nan’s death. (p. 5, l 16-117) Even though he has been behind bars for over 5 years, he has none of the staleness about him that most long-term prisoners develop, and his bright blue eyes still has a spark.
(p. 4, l. 77-82)
Victor doesn’t react with a lot of emotion when Evie tells him the news, and while the other prisoners’ cells are filled up with pictures of family and friends, Victors’ cell is empty. There is a pigeon outside his window, and he shows emotion for the bird, but still he does not seem to care about the death of his nan. A Pidgeon is a symbol of freedom and peace, but Victor tells Evie about how his neighbor threats the Pidgeon. This is a symbol of how fragile freedom is, and Victor knows that your freedom can be taken away from you. The butterfly knife is also a symbol in this short story. It mainly symbolizes Victor, but also the paradox in something beautiful and delicate hiding something cruel. Victor stabbed another pupil at his school to death with a butterfly knife. Evie wonders how a butterfly knife designed to cut, could be named after something so delicate. Perhaps this goes for the victor as well, a beautiful boy who seems to be good and genuine, but at the same time contains some cruelness and darker sides.
The short story is told by a 3. Person omniscient narrator, but we read the story from Evie’s point of view. The narrator uses sentences like “The noise and rush of labour movement, is still an affront to her senses with its banging of gates and scraping of keys in locks” (p. 1, l. 20-22) which contributes to use of figurative language and makes the texts come alive. Victor especially is very detailed described. There is also a lot of contrasts described in the text, such as the contrast between the prisoners looking at the free men working in the office with envious eyes. (p. 3, l. 43-45) The contrast between freedom and captivity is also described, the prison is described as something cold and ugly, while the outside-world is described beautifully. “It’s a bright, blues-sky day and as the sun streams in from this large solidarity window and warms her face she closes her eyes”. (p. 2, l. 35-36) Victor is a contrast himself because his outer appearance camouflages his inner murderer. At the very beginning of the short story, victor is pictured as a person one could feel sorry for, but once his actions is revealed, it is clear that it is a fa?ade. That is why the butterfly knife symbolizes him, it looks good and harmless, but can cause a lot if damage.
In the end Evie can’t comprehend Victors contrasts, and she can’t help but wonder how such a beautiful and sweet boy, could do something so horrible. And since Evie is a woman who is compassionate and tries to understand the prisoners, she is shocked by Victors actions, and maybe even a little scared, that something that seems so good can be so evil.