Laurence, the reader is introduced to a small town school teacher, Rachel. Rachel is 34 years old and a single female taking care of her mother after her father’s death. Through Earache’s eyes the reader is shown her thoughts, desires and struggles. One side of Rachel that Is seen in this novel Is the struggle with death and her father; Rachel approaches death as way out of her life, an escape from the “claustrophobic life” (214) trapping herself from being the person she wants to be.
Before the novel even begins we are shown a glimpse of how Rachel approaches ere spiritual life and how death is an integral part of the way she thinks: “l was swallowed one time deep in the dark” (5). This quote from Carl Sandburg Losers foreshadows the struggle which haunts Rachel from a child to the point in her life when she finally gets a grasp on death. Her life through her eyes seems boring almost unbearable at times and her fantasy of escape comes in the form of dieing: “Rachel Cameron says she’ll die” (7).
Her thoughts turn reality into a dream world seeing the children In the playground growing old “finally die[inning], the last dried shell f them painted and prettified for decent burial by mortal men like Animal Cameron, my father. Stupid thought, Morbid. I mustn’t give houseroom In my skull to that sort of thing” (8). Rachel knows “[l]it’s dangerous” (8) to let herself think these Immature thoughts; She is a grown woman not a child. Her thoughts at the beginning seem to get the best of her; Conforming to be someone she is not happy with. Death started with her father and his business at the local funeral home.
It was a business for her father and Rachel was never part of it: “This is no place for you, Rachel. Run along now, there’s a good girl. This is no place for you” (124). Rachel was sheltered as “[t]he sign on the door says Private” (124), shutting out a child not really understanding death and reality. To Rachel death is not something to be brought out in the open but rather kept Inside hidden from everyone: All that remains Is for someone to delete the word funeral. A nasty word, smacking of mortality. No one In Mackinaw ever dies, at least not on this side of the tracks. We are a gathering of immortals.
We pass on C] but we do not die. Death is rude, unmannerly, not to be spoken to in the street. (19, 20) Seeing the word funeral everyday in neon lights on the front of her house was always n, keeping it fresh in her mind as a reminder of death. It also reminds her that it is a part of life and reading it on the sign only makes it public; Something Rachel struggles with and tries to keep hiding it inside. After breaking the barrier’s put up by her father in the funeral home she goes looking for answers. Hector Jonas welcomes her Into the basement, something her father would never do, and she begins to ask questions.
Earache’s first question, “Death’s unmentionable? ” (128) seems Like she Is trying to get Jonas to answer a question that she had been wanting to ask her father but couldn’t. Jonas then gives n undesirable answer almost repeating the question. Rachel tries to get more of an a full explanation. Sonar’s answer, [I]it’s simply nicer not to have to think about all that stuff (128) shows Rachel that her father was the one who took the burden for other people; He was only trying to let her grow up with out knowing or understanding this pressure so that she would not have to deal with it.
After realizing being sheltered not only from death itself but everything that comes with it, Rachel has to deal with a tumor which could be benign or malignant, death or life. Rachel begins to think of something and her father said: I looked down once through the at the lake, and it trembled and changed, and still I could see, far below, the thousand minute creatures spinning in a finned dance, and my father said Fishes, only Just spawned, and there were thousands of them, thousands.
The waters are in front of my eyes. (187) To Rachel this is time for rebirth, a coming out of who she was and finally being an adult and standing up for herself. Rachel sees that her father was trying to do the right thing. Death and the pressures it brings are not for a child but an adult and with Rachel accepting responsibly, she can now cope by herself. Well, in the end 0 in the end 0 it’s in other’s hands” (201) shows how Rachel knows she can only do so much and to let things happen is the only way to be happy.
At the end Rachel accepts her father for who he was and not who she wanted him to be. Her and Hector talk about the night she came to visit and Rachel expresses how she now understands who her father was: “He probably did do what he wanted most, even though he might not have know it” (206). His love for Rachel was not expressed outwardly but through what he done she now understands. The new found freedom inside herself boils over when she sees Hector had changed the unreal home sign: “Cacophonic Chapel” (208).
She realizes that funeral was gone in not only the sign but also herself: “It’s a change, Hector. It’s 0 evolution” (208). For Rachel it was setting her free for who she wanted to be. Rachel overcame her struggle with death and her father to become the person she wants to be. Her realization in being independent and letting go of the past only made the traumatic experience of tumor a life changing event. With Rachel accepting her father for who he was she can now be the person she wanted to be: “And came out alive after all”