What Wideman’s “Stories” Means to Me

     In Wideman’s “Stories,” the author expresses the idea that reality is subjective because it has multiple layers and can be influenced by perspectives. The fact that Wideman chooses to title his story using the plural form of ‘story’ demonstrates that there could be a plurality of reasons behind how and why the man is eating a banana and walking in the rain. What the speaker sees in front of him is just the surface reality, a reality that is constructed through sight. Sound, taste, smell, and feel can all create new realities. For example, the horrible smell of the durian fruit belies its sweet taste, conveying two distinct realities or impressions. Behind the surface is a plethora of possible reasons and explanations for the man’s behavior; this might be why Wideman decides not to end his questions with question marks. By doing so, the speaker states possible facts about the man, “where did he get the banana” and “does he enjoy bananas.” The facts that the speaker states are still posed as questions, allowing a number of possibilities, answers, and realities to exist.

     What the speaker chooses to believe is a side of reality, a reality that he perceives from examining the man. The facts the speaker poses are open-ended and open to many different interpretations, leaving room for many different realities. In the end, the speaker believes that “all the stories [he] could make from this man… would be sad” but with “you,” it could be otherwise. The stories or realities that the speaker sees are shaped not only by his experiences but are also influenced by the perspective of others. Wideman shows that seeing something is one reality, and that reality is not necessarily objective since it can be affected by different perceptions and experiences.

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