Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although Sanchez’s third-person narrator reflects Sandy’s point of view, Sanchez gives both of the central characters voices in their own right. Italicized passages permit Winston a tenuous dignity appropriate to this desire for psychological freedom and trace Sandy’s conquest of her stuttering as she becomes confident in her commitment to him. These passages blend indistinguishably dialogue and interior monologue; the characters speak directly from within to each other and to the reader. Consequently, the reader knows that these characters are aware of their efforts to shape their own lives. Just as Sandy must overcome her stuttering in favor of clear self-expression to endure the emphatic images of emptiness that close the story, Sanchez must subvert standard English to find a language suitable to her characters.

Sanchez’s language alternates between clashing images of a harsh reality, such as the spots of blood seeping through the envelope that contains Winston’s needles, and of tender commitment, such as Sandy’s naked vulnerability of selflessness while he is in the throes of withdrawal. Within this imagistic tension, Sanchez develops her images of drug addiction into a complex, dominant metaphor of nearly absolute evil: the living death of an individual or a people when they become dependent on values that they have had no role in creating. To underscore the need for self-definition in order to gain self-determination, Sanchez frequently...

(The entire section is 476 words.)