Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although “Demonology” is made up of disjunctive fragments, it is a haunting example of contemporary realism. The narrator ruminates on the problematic nature of time and the shock of death and also presents an acute depiction of suburban America, in particular what it is like to raise young children while working at a dead-end job. The narrator shows his sister Meredith acting within the cultural and economic practices created by late twentieth century capitalism. Her children go out for Halloween dressed as Walt Disney characters.

Meredith’s position in the economic order is marginal, and she is alienated in a Marxist sense in that her work is unfulfilling, repetitive, and pays little. Her life pivots around her family and private interests; however, because of her poverty and the demands of motherhood, she is continually exhausted. In many ways, the story is a indictment of a society that promises much to its citizens but distributes wealth in a very unequal manner. The narrator’s rage at a social system in which Meredith has no recognized identity apart from her role as parent and consumer is counterbalanced by his insistence that her life was worthy of celebration. In a broad sense, the story implies that art pays attention to individual lives and the particularities of experience, whereas corporate power defaces the individual and reduces human complexity to the banalities expressed in popular animated films.

Facing his loss, the...

(The entire section is 486 words.)