The explosions that feature in most of Francie’s stories represent her inability to rationally process or clearly express the traumas in her life. While Francie embarks on her pursuit of writing, her brother serves as a soldier in Vietnam and her parents grow apart and eventually divorce. This tense environment manifests in Francie’s earliest story, in which an elderly couple shoot each other with a malfunctioning gun in their kitchen. Mr. Killian criticizes the story’s bizarre plot, and Francie’s incensed reaction to that criticism demonstrates that the violence at the heart of the story is meaningful to her, albeit in a way she can’t explain. The explosive incident in this first story, especially due to its unlikely setting of the elderly couple’s home, shows that, for Francie, the ruptures in her family life are sudden, unexpected, and deeply traumatic.
The stories Francie writes over the next several years, as she goes on to witness her parents’ divorce and her brother’s severe wartime injuries, mostly echo this initial structure. Whether the explosion in each story is caused by a bomb or a landmine, it’s always a highly improbable event that disrupts the story’s mundane setting, demonstrating that Francie’s own life has been incomprehensibly dismantled by events she didn’t anticipate—and that those events have disorientated her so profoundly that straightforward descriptions won’t suffice. Furthermore, her peers’ and teachers’ baffled reactions to these fictional explosions show that Francie’s traumas effectively isolate her from others because she can’t express them in conventional terms.
Explosions Quotes in How to Become a Writer
Write another story about a man and a woman who, in the very first paragraph, have their lower torsos accidentally blitzed away by dynamite. In the second paragraph, with the insurance money, they buy a frozen yogurt stand together. There are six more paragraphs. You read the whole thing out loud in class. No one likes it. They say your sense of plot is outrageous and incompetent. After class someone asks you if you are crazy.
About the second you write an elaborate story of an old married couple who stumble upon an unknown land mine in their kitchen and accidentally blow themselves up. You call it: “For Better or for Liverwurst.”
About the last you write nothing. There are no words for this. Your typewriter hums. You can find no words.