Among the Dead

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 263

Frank Gale plans a trip to Mexico with his wife, Anna, and young daughter, intending to create an opportunity to confess an affair that has ended and to beg forgiveness and reconciliation. He fantasizes about how to admit his adultery and decides to do it in a letter, which he...

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Frank Gale plans a trip to Mexico with his wife, Anna, and young daughter, intending to create an opportunity to confess an affair that has ended and to beg forgiveness and reconciliation. He fantasizes about how to admit his adultery and decides to do it in a letter, which he writes the day before the trip and hides in his suitcase.

Planning to say goodbye to his mistress at lunch the next day, Frank tells his wife he will travel directly from work and will meet her at the airport. Heavy traffic delays him, and he calls to say he will miss the plane. She announces that she has found the letter in his suitcase. Anger notwithstanding, she and the daughter still board the flight. Within minutes of Frank’s arrival at the airport, he learns that the plane has crashed, killing passengers, crew, and people on the ground.

The letter to Anna surfaces when the rubble is inspected. Delving by the media reveals the name of the mistress as well as the fact that the cheating husband escaped the crash.

The story revolves around the bereaved husband, with his brother, his parents, his former mistress, the clean-up crew, airline officials, police, and family members of the dead all becoming part of the interwoven fabric of a tragedy that borders on dark comedy. People’s thoughts and feelings, even when shockingly disrespectful of the dead, take on an air of legitimacy in the wake of their trauma. The unexpected ending, with its implications that Frank has spiraled into madness, is almost an anticlimax.

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