Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The writing in this story is simple and unembellished, rendering the characterization completely believable and familiar. L’Heureux cleverly lulls the reader into a recognition of his imagined protagonist, and then shocks us with the central plot twist: the singing fetus. The matter-of-fact manner in which the event is described is reminiscent of the magical realism of South American fiction, which combines the totally inexplicable with the utterly mundane. In both cases, the effect is to delight the reader with the possibility of something wonderful and unexpected breaking in on the humdrum world.

“The Comedian” also might be compared to the work of Flannery O’Connor, a Georgia writer who uses eccentric rural characters to embody the startling religious truths of Roman Catholicism. L’Heureux’s characters here are certainly not eccentric, but the central crisis they face can be compared to that which faced Mary and Joseph in the New Testament. Corinne is undergoing a mysterious pregnancy that was totally unexpected. Her husband is a laborer, like Joseph, who wishes to support his wife in her decisions even though he thinks there might be something wrong with her. The child is apparently going to be unlike other children, but Corinne, like Mary, decides to go through with the delivery and take the consequences.

L’Heureux’s technique is to leave the ending of the story mysterious and ambiguous, forcing readers to draw their own...

(The entire section is 500 words.)