How does the structure of "Translucent" from Sleep in Me by Jon Pineda impact the story's effects?

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The structure of the story "Translucent" from Jon Pineda's Sleep in Me contributes to the effects of the story by initially presenting an image of grieving that is very different from the narrator's experience

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Jon Pineda's short story "Translucent" begins with an odd break in chronology. There is a scene of hospital grief: "There were students gathered in the waiting room and parents holding them as they sobbed."

It is never revealed exactly what happened, though it seems some tragedy has cut short what was supposed to be a day of fun at the beach. Pineda writes, "Something had been altered in these peoples' lives, and they wanted reassurance." Even though this scene begins the story, these people and their misfortune don't appear again for the duration of the story. Also, the narrator tells us at the end of the first paragraph that he sees this scene after he has stumbled into his sister's surgery. It is an unexpected move in a story that otherwise travels in a straight chronological line.

So what is this scene doing in the story? What purpose does it serve? One interpretation is that the scene illustrates an emotional catharsis that is unavailable to the narrator. In the opening scene, the tragedy, whatever it is, has happened, and now the characters can openly grieve. The narrator's experience of grief is different. For him, the tragedy is not a discrete incident. His sister has her surgery, but then she goes into a coma. The narrator ponders the word: "Comma seemed more fitting, a visual pause in the sentence of her life." He is left in an emotional limbo, unsure of what to feel.

The tragedy isn't over, and it may well get worse. Thus, he is not able to indulge in the open expression of emotion we see in the opening scene, nor does he find the same prayers, reassurance, or parental comfort. He is alone in his grief. By beginning the story with this scene, Pineda sets up a contrast between what the narrator may expect the experience of grieving will be like and what he actually faces.

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