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Analytical Essay on Fusilli by Graham Swift

Fusilli is a short story by Graham Swift (b. 1949) written in 2014. In this analytical
essay, I will show how the narrative techniques and the use of symbols play a key role
in understanding how the protagonist feels throughout the story.
As many short stories this one has only one setting, the high-end supermarket
Waitrose, but the author uses flashbacks to a previous experience the protagonist
had in the supermarket. The story revolves around Dad, the protagonist, and Swift
utilizes a third-person limited narrative seen from Dads point of view. We do not get
much information on Dad. The author does not even give us Dads name. We know
that he is married to Jenny and that they had a son named Doug. They probably live
by themselves and enjoy life a bit more now [that] the lad had left home. (p. 3, l.
64). However, what the story lacks in Dads exterior description it makes up for by
an extensive description of Dads feelings, both implicitly and explicitly. Anger is the
most prominent feeling expressed in the story, but sorrow and confusion are also
present. An example of this in when Dad remembers a previous trip to the
supermarket and He remembered pushing the trolley then. He wished is was still
then. (p. 2, l.11-12). At this point in the story, we do not know that Dad and Jenny
have lost their son, only that something bad has happened, probably to a soldier. The
way Swift has written that Dad wishes he was back in time pushing a trolley, leaves
the reader with the impression that Dad is both sad and regretful.
The sadness and regret that Dad displays come from own superstition and him
constantly second-guessing his own actions, constantly trying to figure out if he could
have prevented Doug from being a soldier or if he could have prevented Dougs death
by not being angry in the supermarket at Remembrance Day. The chaos inside Dad
and him trying to free himself from it is symbolized in the way he interacts with the
worn-out mother and her screaming brats. He uses his trolley to ram forward as if to
smash into her trolley (p. 5, l. 18-19). After overcoming the obstacle of the mother
and her children, Dad finds himself at the place where he had last spoke to Doug.
The feelings of anger and confusion seem to be replaced with a feeling of redemption.
He looks at the bag of pasta, which he now knows as fusilli because Doug told him.
The connection to Doug is clear, and the bag of fusilli almost becomes a new Doug, as
he holds the plastic bag to his chest and cherishes it: Theyd never get eaten.(p.5, l.
132). The fusilli bag becomes a physical manifestation of Doug. It gives Dad

something to hold on to and bring with him, now that Doug is lying dead in a mortuary
in Swindon. Dad is able to control the fate of the fusilli, it will never die or be eaten.
The fusilli is his forever.
Like many short stories, this story has an open ending. We do not know if Dad is
better able to deal with his mourning after the discovery of the connection to the fusilli
bag, or if he has to live in eternal misery because Jenny eats the fusilli by mistake.
Overall, the story is well written but at times, it is a bit difficult to decipher which parts
are current thought and which parts are flashbacks. The theme of the story is about
losing someone dear to you due to war. War has never been uncommon, but in recent
years, many soldiers have gone to war, not to fight for their homeland, but to fight for
other peoples rights all over the world. This has changed the dynamic in peoples lives
because the threat of death is not present in our all of our backyards, the threat and
fear are only present in the lives of people who have loved ones I the military. The
theme of this short story is highly relevant, not only to people with friends or family in
the military but for everyone who has lost a loved one. People who have experienced
terrible things tend to seek a higher meaning, they become superstitious trying to
predict or control outcomes or seek a way of justifying what has happened e.g. Gods
will. As these feelings are not only relevant for parents losing a child in the war, the
theme of the story is relevant both to people who have lost but also people trying to
get a different perspective of life . The story gives voice to the feelings that the
surviving relatives can have. It shows how the simplest things can change a persons
state of mind. The story also indicates how fragile life is and that even a worn-out
mother should appreciate her out-of-control children.