Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Ralph Lombreglia’s “Somebody Up There Likes Me” deals primarily with the preservation of authenticity and creativity in an institution-driven and technologically advanced world. Lombreglia’s main characters, Dante and Snookie Lee, are both graduates of institutions of higher learning, where they were creative beings. They first meet at a poetry slam and later meet again at a bookstore poetry reading. After becoming a couple and finishing their degrees, they move to San Jose, where Dante begins his teaching career at the College of the Mind.

Dante is an innovative professor who uses computers in the classroom and whose students love him, which ironically causes the institution, epitomized by his chairperson, Mary Beth, to believe he is not academically rigorous in his teaching. Lombreglia juxtaposes a creative, authentic, successful teacher and an oppressive, antiquated educational institution whose leaders adhere to tradition so devotedly as to be unable to accept or reward genuinely creative intelligence. Dante comments on his belief that Mary Beth is out to get him.

The problems at the college create a rift between Dante and Snookie Lee. While she endures the boredom of being an academic’s spouse, he suffers the stresses of dealing with abusive supervision. The distance Dante’s frustrating employment situation creates between the couple results in their separation and Snookie Lee’s decision to pursue a doctorate of her own....

(The entire section is 473 words.)