Describe the narration in "Snow" by Ann Beattie.

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Ann Beattie, an American Author, captures little moments of truth and significance in upper-middle-class American life usually occurring in the suburbs.  Her story "Snow" is found in the collection Where You'll Find Me and Other Stories.

The setting for "Snow" is a country suburb.  The point of view is first person with the narrator serving as the main character in the story.  The time during most of the story is winter with much of the details supplied during a snow storm.  This a story told entirely in flashback.  Later in the story, the narrator recalls a scene which takes place in April. 

The story portrays a young woman who with her lover has moved to the country to start a fresh life.  They completely remodel their house and discover as the narrator calls it:

...Finding some of the house's secrets, like wallpaper under wallpaper...a pattern of white-gold trellises supported purple grapes as big and round as ping-pong balls. 

The narrator recalls a chipmunk running into the house and stopping at the front door as though it knew where to go. From the big snow, the many people who visited, and the ice cream truck fiasco---All of her memories are pleasant and loving.

Just as the book title explains, Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus,  so too was this couple.  Everything the man remembers is cut and dry.  The snow was no big deal; the chipmunk ran to hide; and the visitors were boring. Trying to teach her a lesson, he sarcastically relates: "Any life will seem dramatic if you omit mention of most of it."

Love comes, and it goes.  After the couple part ways, the narrator returns to the neighborhood because a friend Allen  has passed away. As she sits with Allen's wife, the reader learns that Allen was supportive of the narrator during the bad times with the  break up with her lover.  When the narrator leaves, she passes by her old house and sees some white flowers blooming. Obviously, the flowers cannot match the beautiful snow covered yard.

Beattie does not believe in writing superfluously. Her words are chosenly carefully,  and her intention is to be succinct.  Her figurative language comparisons add flavor to her scenes. 

Allen's pool covering like a black shroud.

...saying "snow," my lips move so that they kiss the air.

Love, in its shortest form, becomes a word.

This woman's experience was devastating for her.  The man moved on, but she is still there with him inside their house sitting in front of the fireplace with snow coming down outside. As people look back on their lives, they remember moments not days or weeks. That is the intent of this story: recalling a somewhat pleasant yet difficult time for the narrator. Cleverly, the author uses a snowplow to relate this trying time for the woman.  The snow plow had cleared a path down the middle of the narrow road like a symbolic artery which never found its way to their hearts.


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