Somebody Up There Likes Me

by Ralph Lombreglia

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Style and Technique

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 419

Lombreglia’s humorous and yet profound story is stylistically and technically creative in its own right, an implicit exemplification of the story’s theme. Irony is central to the message that creativity and authenticity and love are to be found not in the academic and corporate institutions popularly thought to harbor them but also in almost any other place. Indeed, ironically, creativity and love thrive on the disreputable fringes of modern life, in the poetry slams in Boston’s bowels, in basement bookstores, in the cluttered shops of outcast computer quality testers such as Mickey, and at the antiquated computers at which Dante creates the innovative messages that help bring Snookie Lee home to him. That Dante’s success as a teacher causes him to be fired and that Boyce’s success as a computer innovator generates the same ironic fate underscore the reversed expectations. The point is that true originality and skill are exiled from contemporary institutions, which are ultimately devoted to perpetuating a self-serving status quo and not devoted to originality, progress, or happiness.

Lombreglia’s use of religiously symbolic names and titles also contributes to the ironic message and adds resonance to the story. The obvious divinity reference of the title “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” the Revelation 2000 name for the most advanced computer, and the title of Boyce’s wife’s proposed book involving modern man’s soul suggest the profundity of the story’s theme, a struggle between the destructive and instructive, between love and indifference, between creativity and dehumanizing modern life, and even between good and evil. It is also important that the Revelation 2000 can be found only outside the institutions of earthly, secular achievement, universities and corporations.

Literary allusions add to the theme of the story. For example, the fictional Dante’s search for Snookie Lee, the modern Beatrice, among multilayered modern evils echoes the historical Dante’s La divina commedia (c. 1320; The Divine Comedy, 1802). Also, Snookie Lee’s refusal to answer her orals is described as doing a “Bartleby,” a reference to Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” (1853), in which a scrivener named Bartleby rebels against the tedium of the modern workplace by saying “I would prefer not to” in response to requests to perform various tasks.

In addition, computers are personified throughout the story, surviving misuse, abuse, and trivialization and reflecting human creativity and achievement. In the grand scheme of somebody up there, they actively help Dante to recover his Beatrice, his love, and happiness, the ultimates of human existence.

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