The short story, “The Juggler”, written by Ursula Hegi, takes place in Coeur d’Alene in the first weekend of October. This first-person narrator tells the story of a mother who is struggling to accept the fact that her daughter Zoe’s boyfriend Michael is slowly losing his eyesight. The author starts by describing the relationship between Michael and Zoe as very loving but dependant relationship.
He then proceeds to describe the situation from the mothers perspective as she is not at ease with her daughter carrying such a burden for the rest if her life with her boyfriend.
In this short yet effective adventure, the author shows us the importance of selflessness and true love.
He makes us reflect on the value of having a purpose in life.
Author’s technics and literary devices
This is shown in evidence through symbolism and metaphor.
The story starts to unfold during a visit by the narrator’s daughter and her boyfriend during a cold and grey season of the first weekend of October, where the daughter, Zoe, brings home her boyfriend Michael to meet her mother and as they carry on their planned activities, the mother starts to have internal conflicts about accepting her daughter’s relationship.
Intro to evidence 1
This is clearly is an indication of the mood of the story that the author wants to convey. The narrator is struggling and wants to break free from this uneasy and off-putting feeling.
The narrator state: “I want to believe in faith and risk and a world where you can stand beneath the grey October sky and flash your own colours through the air like a magician” (last page, last para, last sentence).
Evidence 1 analysis
Here the narrator is struggling with breaking free from her own mental shackles and spread colors to replace her reservations and believe in her daughter’s purpose of living her life for the purpose of supporting her boyfriend’s every basic needs.
Intro to evidence 2
As the story progresses, the narrator recall past experiences with her daughter and is constantly talks about her daughter and herself as she does not feel any urge to make current conversation with her daughter’s boyfriend.
She clearly talks about the activities her and Zoe, the daughter, used to do and recalls that Zoe used to sleep on the couch with her palms firmly closed. (para 21)
Evidence 2 analysis
This symbolises that her mother is very much stuck in past times and does not want to let her daughter go for the purpose of serving someone else’s life. She recalls when her daughter used to comfort her during her time of need. She feels guilty and wants her daughter to live for herself and not for the purpose of someone else which shows a lack of selflessness.
Zoe has shown evidence of true love and selflessness through taking care of her mother when she was young and now she has shown compassion and promise to serve her boyfriend in his time of need which highlights the importance of devoting oneself for the purpose of another.
The story is tied together poetically by the author throughout the flash back memories of the narrator and her daughter suggesting the importance of purpose in one’s life.
Intro to evidence 3
Zoe never showed any complaints or signs of being fed up by her mother’s needs. She has been with her mother side by side throughout the years as partners. Zoe made her life’s purpose to be with her mother and together they shared priceless memories.
“Mom and I used to canoe here long before they were built. Behind them in the woods are rail road tracks, where we once found a pink freight train.” “… Mom and I climbed up the metal ladder in the back and sat on top, eating peanuts…”
Evidence 3 analysis
The author makes use of the significance of the color pink as a metaphor of making something one’s own as young Zoe really makes the pink train her own as she and her mother climbs up and get comfortable and share peanuts together. That was her purpose, to create a world where there is only her, her mother and things they can both call their own.
Intro to evidence 4
As the story draws to an end the mother feels that she does not want to be someone else’s purpose but find her own purpose in life to completely be selfless and devote herself to a higher purpose.
Zoe’s mother express her hunger to pursue the search of her purpose in a very touching monologue: “I want to believe in faith and risk and a world where you can stand beneath the grey October sky and flash your own colours through the air like a magician”.
Evidence 4 analysis
The author uses the expression “flashing colors” as a metaphor to describe that the mother’s life is empty and she envy’s her daughter’s selflessness attitude and wishes to change her life as well by going against the grey October sky and start flashing her own colors. She wants to believe in faith and risk, which is used as a metaphor for describing a state of which there is no control over the outcome much like devoting one’s self to another for sake of true love, both of which she did not believe in before.
Having a purpose changes the way that Zoe sees the world and upon realising this, her mother feels insecure subconsciously and also worried for her daughter because she has changed her way of thinking completely for the sake of blind love. This is a step that her mother envies but is scared to take it herself.
Through this wonderful narration, the author uses various technics such as symbolism and metaphor to really put in evidence the value of having a purpose in life.
This short story reflects on the importance of having a mindset where there is nothing more valuable than an attitude of selflessness and having true love.
There are people in the word who are perhaps in the same situation as Michael and due to their defect they are unable to find true love. This is a question for each individual to reflect upon and decide whether or not they are willing to become selfless and devote themselves for the purpose of another.