Uncovering curiosity in Wideman’s “Stories”

Wideman’s short story “Stories” discusses curiosity on multiple levels both in content and in structure. Wideman does this by revealing curiosity from multiple perspectives.  The main indicator of Wideman dealing with curiosity is the sheer number of questions in the passage. When one is curious, that person tends to ask questions. While it is hard to parse out the questions because they are not punctuated with question marks, they are in fact inquiries. One can tell they are questions because the sentence structure includes question words such as  “why” and “how” and “if”. There are over 20 questions in this short passage. Through these questions, the passage expresses a multi-layered example of curiosity. The first layer is the narrator’s curiosity of the man walking in the rain eating a banana, exemplified by the many questions the narrator has about this man in the rain. Then, there is the layer of the reader, who wonders both why there are all these questions, without question marks, and why they are centered around something that is seemingly quite ordinary.

The end of the passage also reveals multiple layers of curiosity. When the narrator mentions that all his stories would be sad unless he was with a mysterious “you”, the reader begins to wonder. The reader might be curious as to if this is a love story, or just who the “you” is that the narrator is talking about and why is the narrator isn’t with this person.

Wideman is connecting his writing to the theme of seeing and reality in addition to curiosity, apparent when the reader does not know if the narrator is describing reality or falsehood. This reveals yet another layer of curiosity: the curiosity that the reader has when they wonder if the situation they are reading about is reality or not. For example, the reader might be curious if there is actually a man walking in the rain eating a banana or if it is a mere vision or a representation of something greater. It could even be a delusion or a hallucination. Through multiple pieces of writing structure as well as the content of the passage, Wideman deals with a multi-layered curiosity expressed through multiple perspectives.

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