What are some quotes that demonstrate the grief that the parents felt in the story "A Small, Good Thing"?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Part of the grief that both parents experience comes from a lack of knowing. Ann voices this at several points while Scotty is incarcerated:  "I want to talk to the doctor. I don't think he should keep  sleeping like this. I don't think that's a good sign" and  "Why doesn't he wake up?" are questions that reflect her uncertainty, a first step towards grief.  Howard's initial questions equally reflect a sense of the unknown:  "Doctor, how is he?" Howard said. "What's the matter with him exactly?"  The questions that emerge from both parents demonstrate the wide implications of uncertainty and ambiguity that governs their emotional state, a condition that moves them closer to grief.

The grief of both parents becomes evident when Scotty dies.  The "one in a million chance" is not comforting. After the doctor leaves, Ann is emphatic in her grief:  "No, no," she said. "I can't leave him here, no."  This is matched with Howard's "Oh, Jesus. No, I don't understand, doctor. I can't, I can't. I
just can't."  These grief- riddled statements convey the magnitude of comprehending death entering both parents' lives.  Their grief turns into anger when they confront the baker.  Ann's statements of certainty reflect a different side to her characterization, but convey a painful grief of a mother who must bury her son:

 "My son's dead," she said with a cold, even finality. "He was hit by a car Monday morning. We've been waiting with him until he died. But, of course, you couldn't be expected to know that, could you?
Bakers can't know everything-can they, Mr. Baker? But he's dead. He's dead, you bastard!" 

Howard's shaming of the baker comes from an equally deep reservoir of pain. These quotes express grief and hurt in their purest form.  When Ann tells the baker that she wanted to kill him, it is a reflection of the intense pain and grief she is experiencing.  

The pain of grief can be seen in how the parents struggle with death.  Scotty's sudden and unexpected death is what triggers the different expressions of grief.  While this grief will probably never leave them, the emergence of the baker's friendship and support at the end provides a moment of liberation from grief's hold.

Read the study guide:
A Small, Good Thing

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question