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In: English and Literature

Submitted By RebeccaLevin
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Erosive – Ali Smith

“The waking thought of her, sunlit and new, then the all-day hopeful lightheadedness, and behind it all, dull as a blown-out light bulb, the fact of the word never.” (ll. 5-7 p. 1). The quote is from the nameless main character in Ali Smith’s short story “Erosive” from 2003. As the quote implies Ali Smith tells the story of unrequited love. Through post modernistic techniques he portrays the main characters coping with hopeless love. A distinctive feature of post-modernistic literature is that they are often open to interpretation. The story can therefore be analyzed in multiple ways, and the observations I have made are not “set in stone”.

The main character in “Erosive” is a first-person narrator who falls in love with a girl he sees on the street.”(…) it is as if someone hit me across the back of the head with a baseball bat or plugged me into a socket whose powers light up my whole body.” (ll. 8-9, p. 153)
He paints a picture of himself being struck by lightning, to describe his feelings towards the girl. The metaphor especially underlines the intensity of his emotions, given that lightning is a particular strong force. However, the girl he’s in love with does not love him back, and as the title indicates, his love has an erosive impact on him and his mental state. Ali Smith uses a tree to symbolize his state of mind. “The larger new leaves, the fronts of which look clear and clean, have insects packed like bricks on their undersides and the edges of several leaves have been rolled firmly in on themselves, which is killing them.”(ll. 21-24, p. 149) . The leaves described in the quote are from an apple tree that plays a central role in the story. The tree is infested with ants and aphides that are slowly eroding it. Ali Smith uses bug infestation to represent how the narrators mind is infested of unrequited love, impacting his…...

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