Enormous Changes at the Last Minute Questions and Answers
by Grace Paley

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What is the change in Faith throughout the thre short stories in terms of increasing self-awareness?

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Paley depicts Faith in a manner that shows transformation and maturation that comes about as she develops increasing self- awareness regarding herself and her place in the world.  Faith is shown to be wrestling with death in the story, "Living."  The initial pain and realization of death cuts her off from anything else.  Paley constructs Faith's self- awareness as limited, seeing death only from her own point of view and failing to recognize much in way of anything else within it. 

This limited self- awareness begins to slowly pivot when Faith visits her family in the retirement home in "Faith in the Afternoon."  Still emotionally distant and aloof, Paley has Faith begin some level of reflection that garners self- awareness.  The fact that Faith is able to acknowledge, albeit to a weak extent, the connection shared with her parents is reflective of how she is emerging to a new understanding of self through self- awareness.  In "Faith in a Tree," this process is seen in greater detail.  She is beginning to view her own sense of self in a larger context.  While she is perched in a Sycamore above an urban playground, it is a reflection of a self- awareness that Faith's condition does have connection beyond herself.  Seeing her son and recognizing his own self- awareness regarding the world and his place in it helps her generate a greater self- awareness.   This self- awareness is most displayed in "The Long Distance Runner," Faith's understanding of self is constructed as an active and fluid being who seeks to connect both past and present as she gains more insight into her being in the world.  Faith's characterization is one in which she gains greater insight into her self through increasing self- awareness.  This becomes Faith's own "enormous change."

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