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Queen Of Knives A Close Reading

1552 words - 7 pages

It Might Have Gone Something Like This
In “Queen of Knives”, Neil Gaiman exemplifies how unreliable our narrator is in dealing with death and derangement. Through this naïve narration, we are presented with a story in which the narrator; a young boy at that time, recalls how a magician vanishes his grandmother during a magic show. Upon closer analysis we will see that Gaiman actually implies that the grandmother has died causing the grandfather to go crazy from the death of his wife. In order for our narrator to cope with traumatic experience of losing a loved one and witnessing his grandfather lose his mind he blends the story with memories. The poem is set up as a flashback which further ...view middle of the document...

To begin this argument, we must first come to realize that Pearl, the grandmother, is actually dead and we are catching glimpses of the narrator’s memory during of the funeral. Before the story begins a quote looms above the passage reading “The reappearance of the lady is a matter of individual taste” (Gaiman 122). This should be an initial signal to readers that a woman disappears.
What we believe to be the initial act of the show is in fact the entrance of funeral. Gaiman uses subtle imagery to hint at what is really happening. Early on in the poem we see a line where the boy recalls a gray walk with his grandmother along a promenade. Then during the show thunder rolls - this is to create a melancholy mood and represent Pearl’s sadness along with depression at the funeral. We are told that the people there are all elderly - friends and family attending the ceremony. The boy references looking at a dancer and seeing flowers appear. Perhaps what actually happened is that a lady came in to the viewing and brought customary flowers for the deceased. When the magician, symbolically representing God, appears on stage with a box that strikingly resembles a coffin both in size and color he points to the boy’s grandmother. In italics the grandfather tells Pearl to “go on up with the man” (Gaiman 124). This is a clear hint that he has is dealing with the death of his wife. The scene where she obliges the magician is portrayed as her walking down the aisle and up the steps. We could conclude that this actually implies her journey to heaven. The magician even asks if they’ve met before to which Pearl replies no. This is symbolic to the first encounter with God. Pearl is placed into the magicians box so that only her face can be seen by the audience. The young boy confuses the open casket with the events of the show. The dialect “Pearl, are you all right?” (Gaiman 125) with the response of a smile and nod is significant in understanding that she is accepting of her time to let go.
At the grand finale the grandfather tells our narrator to look sharp – a play on words to dress for the occasion. He also tells the young boy that his grandmother must be under the stage and that she will come back to them with flowers. That was the last time he saw his grandmother. It could be assumed that they are graveside at this point in the text and not actually at the show like the boy remembers.
We will next look at why the grandfather is mentally unstable and how it affects our narrator’s recalling of the whole occurrence in his life. The grandfather all throughout the poem is known for being one who can fix and figure things out. In light of this, we are led to a line where the grandfather explains to his grandson how he had built a television set for Pearl and he early in their marriage. Once he describes the television he notes that the picture was bad and that they weren’t sure if they were seeing people or ghosts. This is not only a reference to...

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