Trees, snakes, herb gardens, gerbils, white mice, salamander, tropical fish, puppy, orphan, parents, grandparents, students, all twelve of these were dying all around the students of Edgar's class. Edgar tried to help the students by giving reasons for why those things happened continuously but could not come up with a good explanation. The rate of death was unfathomable and the children were distraught. When they had a class discussion about what was going on they wanted Edgar to make love with Helen so that they would not be sad by what was going on around them and they would not lose hope. After their "demonstration" a gerbil came in the classroom and the children had completely forgot about everything and were happy once again. This is one very sad story almost hard to believe.
Not only was the death of everything around them unbelievable, but the way the children responded when they were thinking about those deaths. When I was reading, the students seemed to be in elementary school, not past the third grade. But then they say "is death that which gives meaning to life?" and "but isn’t death, considered as a fundamental datum, the means by which the taken-for-granted mundanity of the everyday may be transcended in the direction of –." I am pretty sure that most little kids would not have such opinion about death even with all of the things happening. I guess the reason Barthelme put it in the story was just to give one of the usual explanations for death that no one is satisfied with but does settle for.
Death after death of all of these things reminded me of all of the incessant wars, conflicts, genocides, tsunamis, earthquakes, and disasters that have taken place in the world; people die everyday. We are always bombarded with the deaths of people everyday and many wonder why things like these happen but still strive to make that connection with those around us like try to find love. Why do people do this if there is a possibility that they will die the next day or within a short period of time? Because we still have hope for life and a better future just like those little kids when the gerbil came in. Just like Ecclesiastes 3:11 says we have " time indefinite put in [our] hearts" in other words, nobody wants to die.
Who did Edgar and Helen represent, if anyone/anything?
Why was Edgar always using petty explanations for what went wrong?