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A free 90-minute Delve discussion on The Falls by George Saunders. Hosted by Christopher Zinn. The discussion is limited to 16 people and pre-registration is required. Registered participants will receive information on how to sign on to the Zoom meeting.
“Boy, oh boy, could life be a torture. Could life ever force a fellow into a strange, dark place from which he found himself doing graceless, unforgivable things like casting aspersions on his beloved firstborn. If only he could escape BlasCorp and do something significant, such as discovering a critical vaccine. But it was too late, and he had never been good at biology and in fact had flunked it twice. But some kind of moment in the sun would certainly not be unwelcome.”
—George Saunders, “The Falls”
“The Falls” first appeared in The New Yorker on January 20, 1996, won the O.Henry prize in 1997, and was later included in Saunders’ second short story collection, Pastoralia (2000). This brief but dense short story follows the steps and thoughts of Saunders’s contemporary every-person, Morse, as he makes his way home from his job and stumbles into a sudden emergency. Saunders’s perhaps satiric account of the nature of everyday consciousness becomes by story’s end a surprisingly stirring post-modern parable, written in prose that is awkwardly beautiful.
“The Falls” is a relatively brief story but it bears close reading. Participants are encouraged to come prepared to discuss the following questions, and to bring their own as well.
- What do we know and learn about the central character, Morse?
- How does Saunders’s use of third person narration and of language contribute to the portrait of Morse and of the other characters in the story?
- What is the relation of the story’s prose to the social and cultural phenomena it describes?
- What is the relation of thought to action in the story?
- What, in your view, happens in the story?
- Is there a moral to this story, a set of values either affirmed or denied?