The dominant impression this story creates for me is that of the randomness of life and of love, the unexpected outcomes that come at us out of nowhere. At first "White Angel " seems a simple coming-of-age narrative about two brothers, though with a darker side because the boys...
The dominant impression this story creates for me is that of the randomness of life and of love, the unexpected outcomes that come at us out of nowhere. At first "White Angel" seems a simple coming-of-age narrative about two brothers, though with a darker side because the boys are taking drugs, specifically LSD. But this was a somewhat usual part of the time—the late 1960s or early 70s, the aftermath of Woodstock.
The pre-history of that era is a presence as well—the Leave it to Beaver allusion and the mild strictness of the parents, the "slow forties music" the boys' mother is singing to herself, and the allusion to her first husband's plane having "gone down over the Pacific." The deeper meaning about life could be that in this snapshot of a time, we see an ideal in which even a "normal" act such as experimenting with drugs seems an awfully stupid thing to do when it is capable of shattering the homey (though perhaps boring) perfection of that time and place in its innocent middle-class setting.
The fact of the older boy, Carlton, losing his virginity and then losing his life shortly thereafter is just the meaningless outcome we would not expect in a setting of this nature. He crashes through a glass window and bleeds to death, a fulfillment of the proverbially repeated warnings of what would happen to those who took acid. The randomness of this shock cannot be neutralized or forgiven, but then, as always, life goes on. The younger brother Bobby is not destroyed, and we see that now even at the age of nine this chance death has placed him in the position of comforting his father, almost tucking him in to bed and then agreeing to have a talk with him in answer to his father's lonely request.