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"Snow" by Ann Beattie

Page history last edited by David Hodges 10 years, 9 months ago

 

 

Of course you can't begin to participate in this discussion until you've read "Snow," by Ann Beattie, found on pages 231-234 of our textbook, Life, Language and Literature. It will make your reading much more effective if you've also studied the Analysis section, pages 235-241. When you've had a chance to consider the many themes and stylistic techniques of Ann Beattie's briefest of fictions, join the conversation below.

 

Snow

by Ann Beattie

 

 

I remember the cold night you brought in a pile of logs and a chipmunk jumped off as you lowered your arms. "What do you think you're doing in here?" you said, as it ran through the living room. It went through the library and stopped at the front door as though it had knew the house well. This would be difficult for anyone to believe, except perhaps as the subject of a poem. Our first week in the house was spent scraping, finding some of the house's secrets, like wallpaper under wallpaper. In the kitchen, a pattern of white-gold trellises supported purple grapes as big and round as ping-pong balls. When we painted the walls yellow, I thought of the bits of grape that remained underneath and imagined the vine popping though, the way some plants can tenaciously push though anything. The day of the big snow , when you had to shovel the walk and couldn't find your cap and asked me how to wind a towel so that it would stay on your head-you, in the white towel turban, like a crazy king of snow. People liked the idea of our being together, leaving the city for the country. So many people visited, and the fireplacemade all ofthem wabt to tell amazing stories; the child who happened to be standing on the right corner when the door of the ice cream truck came open and hundreds of popsicles crashed out; the man standing on the beach, sand sparkling in the sun, one bit glinting more than the rest, stooping to find a diamond ring. Did they talk about amazing things because they thought we'd turn into one of them? Now I think they probably guessed it wouldn't work. It was as hopeless as giving a child a matched cup and saucer. Remember the night out on the lawn, knee deep in snow, chins pointed at the sky as the wind whirled down all that whiteness? It seemed that the world had been turned upside down, and we were looking into an enormous feild of Queen Anne's lace. Later, headlights off, our car was the first to ride through the newly fallen snow. The world outside the car looked solarized.

 

You remember it differently. You remember that the cold settled in stages, that small curve of light was shaved from the moon night after night, until you were no longer surprised the sky was black, that the chipmunk ran to hide in the dark, not simply to a door that ledto its escape. Our visitors told the same stories people always tell. One night, giving me a lesson in story telling, you said, "Any life will seem dramatic if you omit mention of most of it."

 

This, then, for drama: I drove back to that house not long ago. It was April, and Allen had died. In spite of all the visitors, Allen, next door, had been the good friend in bad times. I sat with his wife in their living room, looking out the glass doors to the backyard, and there was Allen's pool, still covered with black plastic that had been stretched across it for winter. It had rained, and as the rain fell, the cover collected more and more water until it finally spilled onto the concrete. When I left that day, I drove past what had been our house. Three or four crocuses were blooming in the front - just a few dots of white, no field of snow. I felt embarassed for them. They couldn't compete.

 

This is a story, told the way  you say stories should  be told: Somebody grew up, fell in love, and spent a winter with her lover in the country. This, of course, is the barest outline, and futile to discuss. It's as pointless as throwing birdseed on the ground while snow still falls fast. Who expects small things to survive when even the largest get lost? People forget years and remember moments. Seconds and symbols are left to sum things up: the black shroud over the pool. Love, in its shortest form, becomes a word. What I remember about all that time is one winter. The snow. Even now, saying "snow," my lips move so that they kiss the air.

 

No mention has been made of the snowplow that seemed always to be there, scraping snow off our narrow road- an artery cleared, though neither of us could have said where the heart was.

 

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This remarkable story doesn't easily translate into simple explanations, but that might make it more interesting to discuss than if everything about it were clear.

 

The barest bones of the story are easy to relate. In fact, the author does so, to taunt her former lover, who wanted everything to be told simply: Somebody grew up, fell in love, and spent a winter with her lover in the country.

 

We don't have to be complicated to discuss this story, evocative and dense as it may seem. Many of its effects are quite simple, charming, a little bit mysterious and nostalgic. The list of questions on page 235 is excellent.

 

Some questions to get the conversation started:

    1. The chipmunk story is clearly about something being where it does not belong. Are there parallels for this situation elsewhere in the story? Do the couple belong where they are, in the country, taking over someone else's house?
    2. When they paint over the wallpaper and the narrator imagines the grape vines popping through, is this related somehow to the chipmunk?
    3. How do you explain the stories friends tell when they come out from the city to the country to visit their friends who are so in love and have a house and a fireplace together?
    4. Something's very much out of place, In fact, the whole world is "upside down" that night in the yard when the night sky was white with snow.
    5. Night is day. They can drive, "headlights off" in the new snow in a world that is "solarized," or sunny.
    6. Things as fragile as love can't last, especially if they try to survive where they don't belong, like those crocuses that "couldn't compete" with snow, or that black plastic that is the shallow, dark substitute for Allen's pool, that doesn't even hold water well.
    7. The love she and her lover shared is over now and all that remains are little moments, not even moments she can share with him because he remembers everything differently than she does. For him, nothing was special. Would the lover ever have returned to the house, or to pay his respects to Allen?
    8. Make up your own observations or questions.
    9. I'll be happy to tell you what I think about anything at all, but only after you tell me what you think!
    10. Post early to take advantage of the entire week of conversation!

 

ASSIGNMENT: Make significant, relevant and responsive contributions to a conversation about "Snow." You may explain details you think other students might have missed, ask questions, suggest theories about the narrator's relationship, or analyze style and technique.

 

MINIMUM ACCEPTABLE PRODUCTION: One comment is not enough. Start contributing early so you can make several original comments and reply to the comments of several classmates. (No fair copying or mimicking comments made before yours by other students. Read your classmates' comments BEFORE posting you own!

 

DEADLINE: Midnight  (11:59 PM) THU OCT14.

 

Comments (33)

said

at 8:40 pm on Oct 8, 2010

After I read the story "Snow," by Ann Beattie, as the narrator in the story remembers the important time in her life in a country house with her lover. Snow has represented the relationship that she had with her lover in her memory. The lover wouldn’t return to the house and pay his respects to her. Winter is a cold season of the year that everything looks hopeless and sorrowful to the narrator. She has felt a long time for it.

David Hodges said

at 1:23 pm on Oct 9, 2010

Thanks for being first, Tonfu! I appreciate you getting us started. I guess snow does represent the relationship somehow, although I admit I can't figure out how.

I agree the lover probably wouldn't (and didn't) return to their house, but we only have the narrator to trust for that feeling. Maybe what she tells us about the lover isn't entirely true.

Yes, winter can seem hopeless to some, but don't you think the narrator associates snow and winter with the best time of her life, when love was young and hopeful, and friends came by to tell amazing stories?

said

at 4:37 pm on Oct 13, 2010

I will guess that the narrator associates snow and winter with best time of her life.
But it's also reminds the sorrowful memory to her in the life. Snow & Winter are stored in her memory. When she has remembered each moment and thing that happened with her lover. She loves and also hates snow & winter.

Doriana Kenaci said

at 7:19 pm on Oct 11, 2010

As I read the story''Snow,''by Ann Beattie,I think the author remember the best time in her life with her love,in a country house.In that particular time that narrator has mention in the story,was winter time.It was realy cold and it was snow.I think that even the winter is a cold season in this story it represent the best time in her life,and snow represent the relationship between her and her love.

Carmen Trinidad said

at 4:07 pm on Oct 13, 2010

Is like winter reminds her loves store and her friend passing away.

IrinaSyrnikova said

at 8:32 pm on Oct 11, 2010

The story is absolutely beautiful and hypnotizing! The author narrates in a very interesting way, as if she addresses to the man she loved. She does not tell everything in its actual order, but creates the whole story describing different episodes and events that happened that winter. With the help of several strokes of a paintbrush she creates the whole picture of memories. The author does not mention all the details, as if the readers know them already, what makes the story more intimate and warm.

xiuyun ling said

at 8:56 pm on Oct 11, 2010

This story is talking what she still remember. These memories are significant. She and her lover have broken up, and she could not let the memory go.She can not forget the memory of her deepest heart.She mentioned snow because it was the period when she broken up with her boyfriend.

Duong Thang Ly said

at 11:40 pm on Oct 11, 2010

That was a lot of things recalled the narrator disastrous love: the house, the winter, the snow,the chipmunk, the death of Allen, the purple grape, etc. She experienced different memory of her love story every time she passed through each. All of those evoked her the same compassionate and romantic feeling, the feeling of being with lover. Furthermore, she appreciated every moment she and her lover had spent. In contrast, her lover did not feel anything at all but his own simple procedure of love. In the bottom of her heart, snow represented not only her preceding unfulfilled love but also something so "white" and hopeless, that she could not risk her heart again.

shahar cohen said

at 10:29 pm on Oct 14, 2010

Wow I like it. i agree with what u said about white and hopeless.

Juninio Michel said

at 1:27 pm on Oct 12, 2010

After reading this story (Snow writen by Ann Beattie), i discern the word " Snow" is too much impeccable in its gist. As a reader, when i become more immersed in the symbolic basis (supporting structure) that illustrates the litterary work, it is absolutely explicit how there is a different aspect of disconnected explanations between the author ( Ann Beattie) and his escort. I do not understand at all the story. Then the grammar structure looks weird. In a word , i dont like this story..... it's kind of boring....

wenjun zhou said

at 4:30 pm on Oct 12, 2010

After i read this article " Snow, " by Ann Beattie, I agree with that things as fragile as love can't last. There is not only love is fragile, the relationship between people also is brittle. If we surrive in the place where we don't belong, we just use to it and don't force to against it. There is the best way to handle the relationship with people who around you. On other hand, when we are on the hard situation or face a difficult problem, we can talk about those problem or share how hard situation are you in to our friend. I think that is the good way to release our feelings. It just like the aritcle mention about: so many people visited, and they tell amazing stories to their friend in from of the fireplace in the crazy king snow weather.

Carmen Trinidad said

at 6:36 pm on Oct 12, 2010

As I Read this article ''Snow',by Ann Beattie, As she was growing up she when throw different experienced in her life and old memorys still cames to things that she do or see like the snow,the winter,the death of a old friend,the purple grape,wall being different colors ect.Snow remind her first love or her died friend.

xiuyun ling said

at 6:56 pm on Oct 12, 2010

i agree what u said. Snow remind her that something she does not want to remember.

Carmen Trinidad said

at 4:04 pm on Oct 13, 2010

YeaH does what i think, Because is like she dont like the snow or winter.

said

at 4:24 pm on Oct 13, 2010

Snow represented the relation between the narrator & her lover, and winter is a sorrowful time to her; but also a great & lovely time in her memory.

xiuyun ling said

at 9:59 pm on Oct 14, 2010

if i broke up with my true love in the snow day,i will cry for the whole winter. So i know what is her feeling.

Wei Liu said

at 7:58 pm on Oct 12, 2010

This is a stroy about the narrator, who related her story as if she was speaking to her former lover about the time they shared together. she remerbered every most important details and evens from the day with big snow that they lived in the country house. In my opinion, the chipmunk played a important role in the story. A lot things seem related with it. As the article mention, the chipmunk onece entered their house as thought it had knew the house. I am curious the relationship between the chipmunk and the last ower of the house.

yanwen mai said

at 11:24 pm on Oct 12, 2010

After I read the article "snow"I can feel the protagonist how deep to remember her friend.At a time she saw the snow that could made she remenber he.They're relationship was very deep.seem right now he was not here with she,but she still remember the thing happed between their each other when she see the snow.seem time going very far,a lot thing and lot the people up appear in our life,but w
e never to remember deep like this story.The protagonist used the snow to told us how remember she miss her friend.Even this was a sad story she can told in the beautiful way.
and make the reader remember they're story deeply.

LI,HUAI JIN said

at 9:38 pm on Oct 13, 2010

This story is so interesting.The narrator used a beautiful image,the chipmunk.To recall this love story in winter.The chipmunk actually describe the narrator because the chipmunk ran the living room,the house ,and the library,all places were remembered importantly that she and her lover had gone the locations.This also reflects that the narrator still love her lover.She still look forward to restarting her love.

Julia Nguyen said

at 9:52 pm on Oct 13, 2010

Ann have had sweet memories about a lovely winter with her lover. It was a winter with "knee-deep" in snow. It was snow as much as night can be day because shimmer of snow made people thought that it wasn`t night yet, still daytime.

meina chen said

at 10:29 pm on Oct 13, 2010

Yes, I agree with you because their loves are so deep. So she can't forget it that memory she spent the with her lover.Maybe she thinks the daytime can’t pass so fast for her. She just wants to keep the times going to slowly. Then she could remembers romantic and happiness with her lover.

meina chen said

at 10:02 pm on Oct 13, 2010

This story told us the narrator spent the winter and remembered the significant time with her lover in a country.They shared each other.Then they were done.The narrator tried to use something to recall this love.Such as the house ,the chipmunk,and the Allen's death.Specially the snow,whenever is snows,she will recollect her love's experience.This appears the narrator still loves her lover

Jahanvi joshi said

at 11:05 pm on Oct 13, 2010

According to me, In this story, the word 'Snow' means beautiful memories of the past of the author, Ann Betty. All the small things or incidents which happened during the snow time means a lot to Ann. It reminds Ann of her past lover and the the time they spent together. Ann's describing of those chipmunks, the turban incident, Allen's pool, it shows that She remembers even a tiny moment she spent with her past lover. I even think that she doesn't even want to forget those memories. Ann's love for her past lover was extreme. Personally i loved the way she described even small things, it makes reader to imagine the stuff which really happened. Such as, Allen's pool cover collected more and more water until it finally spilled onto the concrete, blooming of those crocuses. It is such a delicate and beautiful story.

Doriana Kenaci said

at 9:42 am on Oct 14, 2010

In this story the author looks like ley up the word to gave as more clear details which make the story more understood.I think that's what makes this story more intresting.

BABAR I. said

at 8:34 pm on Oct 14, 2010

I think in this story the snow represents the time the lovers spent together. The narrator is trying to say that love doesn't long last, it disappears quickly just like the snow.

qiang lin said

at 9:04 pm on Oct 14, 2010

After I read I think this article "Snow" respresent the author and her lover's love, even it just a short time, but it was the beautiful. it's unforgettable memories.

Duong Thang Ly said

at 10:25 pm on Oct 14, 2010

Snow not only represents her beautiful memories but also recalls her pain at the bottom of her heart.

Julia Nguyen said

at 9:11 pm on Oct 14, 2010

I agree with you Babar. Moreover, I think Ann try to show that there are some differences aspects of memories about snow, love. In her memory, snow was so beautiful which linked to the great time they had had together, however, her lover didnt remember that beauty time as much as she does.

Jean Roberson Hilaire said

at 9:44 pm on Oct 14, 2010

In the story " The Snow " the author narrates about a woman who spent a winter with her lover in a house.At the same time, the author tries to reconstruct precisely what happens to this woman during that winter from some details and events from this winter as examples the chipmunk, the gentleman who died in the neighborhood which she was considered more than a friend, when she scraped the wall when she first moved in the house, by the way the neighbors was cleaning the street after the snow fall.

Jean Roberson Hilaire said

at 9:59 pm on Oct 14, 2010

Ms Xiuyun, I don't agree with you when you said she doesn't want to remember the snow. Because, this winter recalls her a lot of great memories, like when she scraped the walls, by founded some of the house's secrets, like wallpaper under wallpaper, when she and her lover painted the kitchen yellow.

shahar cohen said

at 10:26 pm on Oct 14, 2010

The story Snow is deffenatly a Love story. She talks about a big love that she had in the past in this country house. The story is mostly memories that she is having threw stuff that she sees.The author doesnt give many details in the story and that is why i realy like it, I think she just gives the most important details, the ones we need to know that we can understand the way she feels. I think the title "Snow" represents how cold her broken heart is, and that this might have been big love, but it left her cold.

Doriana Kenaci said

at 10:45 pm on Oct 14, 2010

I'm agree with Shahar,I think snow might represent too how cold her broken heart is now after she lost her love.

IrinaSyrnikova said

at 11:46 pm on Oct 14, 2010

I agree that the story is very symbolic. it has its own language - language of symbols. White snow represents main character's pure and almost Platonic love for her beloved. Symbol of peace and quietness. For me personally, snow is a kind of oblivion. that woman was in the middle of nowhere in the countryside with the one she loved. the author does not give any time or space references (with the exception that we know that the story is an example of modern American literature), which makes this story even a little mysterious and romantic. and for her lover everything seemed different. even the way he thought the stories should be told shows that he sees everything quite straightforward in black and white colors.
As for the other symbols, such as the chipmunk, the grape, the pile of logs, the forest, all of them create the impression of warmth and cosiness. The fireplace makes the scene look like a fairytale, probably that is the reason that people are willing to tell "amazing stories". Black plastic stretched across the pool, crocuses make the author and the reader feel uncomfortable and sad. The same as the flowers cannot compete with the snow, the author's fragmentary memories cannot be compared with the feelings and happiness she experienced long time ago being with her beloved, because we never can turn back great moments of our life, there can be other good moments, but the same happy times never come back.
i can say that though the general atmosphere of the story is sad, I cannot say that it leaves any depressing impression. it is filled with light melancholy and nostalgia.i

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