Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 574
“Some Say the World” is told by a first-person participant narrator, an eighteen-year-old girl. During her adolescence, the narrator committed several antisocial acts as a result of her destructive pyromania and has been hospitalized frequently and subjected to intense medication, yet her voice seems authoritative. Her telling of her family history, coupled with the interchanges with her stepfather, Mr. Arnette, lead readers to affirm the narrator’s perspective. The narration and dialogue evoke a compassionate response toward the troubled teenager and her stepfather while revealing the self-serving indifference of the young woman’s mother.
The action of the story is straightforward, with the daughter simply relating some of her troubled past experiences, mostly concerning her fascination with fire, while she passes the time playing board games with her mother’s current husband, Mr. Arnette. She and her stepfather realize the dubious nature of the third member of this blended family, and their shared knowledge creates a bond between them. Her mother regularly cheats on Mr. Arnette with her biological father, so both the stepfather and the daughter suffer from loneliness, abandonment, and unfulfilled desire. The time they spend together not only bonds them as fellow sufferers but also allows them the opportunity to decide that they must act by leaving their situation.
The daughter’s parents have been divorced thirteen years, but they routinely meet for sexual liaisons at a nearby hotel. The girl, though, has not seen her father since the divorce. Her mother lies to her and Mr. Arnette concerning her activities, trying to hide her involvement with her former husband. The girl and her stepfather eventually become upset by the mother’s behavior, so one night they decide to follow her to the hotel in which the liaisons occur. They peek through a window, and see the undeniable truth of their situation. This revelation provides the impetus for them to leave home for good.
As the daughter and Mr. Arnette get to know each other by playing board games, they reveal their loneliness and desires. Mr. Arnette admits that he married the daughter’s mother for “company” and that he misses his own children, whom he rarely sees. He tries to re-create the feeling of a good memory with his children by taking his stepdaughter to the local carnival, but she is too anxiety-ridden to get out of the car. Her inability or refusal to accompany Mr. Arnette at the carnival prompts him to question her about the value of her pills and to challenge her to get out of the house more.
This confrontation, along with the other conversations between the girl and her stepfather, encourages the daughter to start living on her own terms. She decides to quit taking her medication, and once she does this, she seems more alive and able to experience feelings. She spends a day looking at pictures of her biological father in a photo album, gaining for the first time some understanding of his life. She regains her appetite. She is able to fry bacon without being consumed by the destructive appeal of fire. She is also able to accompany Mr. Arnette to the carnival, where together they ride a Ferris wheel and celebrate the temporary good feelings of being suspended from the reality of their painful memories and current situations. By this time, they have also become aware of their tender feelings for each other. They decide to run away together to Canada.