Graham Greene

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What troubles Jerome about his aunt in "A Shocking Accident"?

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What bothers Jerome about his aunt is that she doesn’t see the humor in how his dad died and is oblivious to how the story of his death impacts listeners.

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In Graham Greene’s short story “A Shocking Incident,” Jerome’s dad dies. Jerome’s dad was in Naples. In the less well-off parts of Naples, residents supposedly keep their pigs on their balconies. One of these pigs had grown quite large. The oversized pig broke the balcony, fell on Jerome’s dad, and killed him.

The zany circumstances surrounding the death of Jerome’s dad conflict with Jerome’s heroic, adventurous image of him. Jerome thought of his dad as a British Secret Service agent or some type of covert firearms dealer. At first, Jerome doesn’t pick up on the comic aspects of his dad’s death. However, after telling his best friend at school, he realizes the ridiculousness of the story.

Unfortunately for Jerome, his aunt is impervious to the farcical elements of her brother’s death. As the narrator of the story says, Jerome’s aunt “had no sense of humour.” She marks her brother’s death with seriousness and solemnity. She keeps a large picture of him on her piano. When it comes to telling people about her brother’s death, Jerome’s aunt is not shy. She retells the narrative, unaware of how it impacts the listener. Hearing his aunt recount the details of his dad’s death to these people pains Jerome. Her humorlessness, “rambling discourse” and obliviousness to listeners’ reactions all bother him.

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