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In Richard Ford’s “Fireworks”, an outside narrator told the story by giving insight into the protagonist’s thoughts and his perspective toward other characters.  Although it was written in 3rd person, “Fireworks” read like a 1st person story.  Unlike many 3rd person narrators, Ford’s narrator allowed for a deep connection between the reader and the protagonist, Starling.  You felt like Starling was telling the story because the narrator was so aware of his thoughts.

The house was a ranchette in a tract of small, insignificant houses on fenced-in postage-stamp lots down on the plain of the Sacramento River, out from town.  The owner was an Air Force sergeant who had been stationed in Japan, and the house was decorated with Oriental tastes: wind chimes and fat, naked women stitched over silk, a red enamel couch in the living room, rice paper lanterns on the patio.  There was an old pony in the back, from when the owner had been married with kids, and a couple who lived on the street, Starling noticed, were younger than the two of them.  More than a few were in the Air Force and fought loud, regular arguments, and came and went at all hours.  There was always a door slamming after midnight, then a car starting up and racing away into the night.  Starling had never thought he’d find himself living in such a place.”

Although there was very little physical action within the story, Ford created a complex-emotional setting, where the protagonist’s inner struggle was the plot.  Out of work, Starling felt incapable and undeserving of being a suitable husband and fulfilling his duties.  The reader could sympathize with his depression as he aimlessly sat in his run-down house, waiting for something-something that takes him away from this life he never asked for.  Starling felt stuck and longed for something better, and it wasn’t until he ignored the phone call from the teenage boy, who called him dad, that Starling began to change within.   The phone call signified his regret of never having a child, and triggered the memory of his first wife’s abortion.

The ending of the story did not reconcile Starling’s inner battle with the man he had become.  He wondered why his wife didn’t end up with her ex-husband, since his life had turned out much better than Starling’s.  Ford’s portrayal of a jobless, luckless, and nearly hopeless individual was honest and provoked sadness and understanding from the reader.  He wrapped you into the dark downward spiral that the protagonist was living, and captured his self-reflection all from 3rd person.

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