Joseph Boyden's "Driving Lessons"

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In Joseph Boyden’s short story “Driving Lessons” there’s a contrast between life and death portrayed by two important events in the narrator’s life. The writing creates similarities between these two events to show us how the protagonist is reminded of the birth of his child by the death of a teen, as well as creating scenarios to represent the themes of each story. The first story portrays the death of a young boy by a teenager that shoots him in the chest. To begin the story the writer creates an “inky” night scenario that helps create more intensity for what is going to happen next. This kind of dark scenario gives us hints of the theme of this short story as a comparison between darkness and death. Also, the writer chose to show loneliness during the story by just having a few characters in it. The young victim of the shooting would die alone and suffering if it weren’t for the narrator. As the boy is dying the man tries to calm him down by “stroking his head like he’s his child” (para. 6). Death is seen and represented as quiet and dark just like the night. The second story tells how the narrator’s child is born. In this case the atmosphere created by Joseph Boyden is a rushed one, as the events are happening in a traffic hour in the morning. A birth seems to be a good thing and the writer makes up a bright scenario for this as it is set in the early morning. A comparison between life and light is made. The author chose to make this incident happen in a traffic hour with people around seeing what is taking place in the car as if wanting the new born child to not be alone, because life is linked to other people, not with loneliness. The man saves his child from dying by working calmly and steadily. Life is represented with the bright, noisy and happy morning. Both stories have a couple of similarities that let us know how they are linked to each other.

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