What similar themes do Rick Moody's "Boys" and Jon Pineda's "Translucent" and "Diorama" share?

Quick answer:

The stories "Boys," "Translucent," and "Diorama" all describe moments when youthful innocence is cut short by tragedy.

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Rick Moody's story "Boys" and Jon Pineda's stories "Translucent" and "Diorama" describe the end of youth, when innocence is cut short by tragedy and initiates a young person into adulthood whether they are ready for it or not. Moody's story concerns a pair of twin boys, and the story is punctuated by the repeated phrase "boys enter the house." The story follows the characters from infancy to, roughly, their early twenties. All throughout, though, the characters are referred to as "boys," and their lives center around their childhood home. Even as the characters leave for college and begin to individuate themselves, the repeated phrase "boys enter the house" keeps them tethered to their identities as boys. This changes at the end of the story, when their father dies. This trauma is accompanied by a consideration of the doorway to the house itself and how it has been a constant throughout their lives. The story ends with a variation of the story's refrain: "Boys, no longer boys, exit." The characters leave not only the house but also their status as boys. After the loss of their father, they are now fully fledged adults.

Pineda's stories make the connection between tragedy and the end of youth even clearer. "Translucent" begins with a scene of confusion. Some tragedy has occurred, and though we never find out exactly what that tragedy is, the scene of confusion and sorrow crystalizes the narrator's own feelings. We are told in the first sentence that the people in the waiting room are students, and we're given this image of carefree youth: "Teenage girls wore T-shirts too big for their bodies, their bikini top straps peeked out above the stretched collars, and on their legs were patches of sand clinging to their tan or even burnt skin." Whatever they had been doing before, they are now here, and they don't understand why. Likewise, the narrator has seen something that is beyond his capacity to fully process. He mistakenly walked into his sister's tracheotomy, and the detail with which he recounts the scene shows how powerfully it was seared into his memory. His life has become bifurcated: before this event and after.

The main character of "Diorama" does not actually witness the accident that has placed his friend in a limbo between life and death, but the event is every bit as traumatic as in the two other stories. It isn't clear exactly how old the main character is, but the initial scene of him building the diorama makes him seem younger than he is. He has stopped playing with G.I. Joes, we're told, but he still makes a diorama with one. He is in a limbo of his own, having left behind childhood and standing on the threshold of adulthood but not having quite walked through yet. Unlike the characters in the other stories, he makes some attempt to understand the tragedy that has crashed into his life, yet he is powerless to do anything about it. The use of second-person narration emphasizes this lack of agency, underscoring his helplessness even more than "Translucent" or "Boys."

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