“Marzipan”

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28 Responses to ““Marzipan””

  1. Farrah Benoit Says:

    I think this story takes the genre of fiction to a whole new level. I was left in utter disbelief as the syoryline progressed and at this moment im still perplexed as to what the purpose of this story is. I do believe that the abnormalities in this story (ie. the hole in the fathers stomache and giving birth to your own mother) are symbols for a much greater dynamic, but it has not fallen in to place in my head. All that I do comprehend at this point is the narrators love for marzipan which is quite unusual for a kid her age. My overall assumption about the author is that she may have suffered childhood confusion and is in mental disarray with her own identity.

  2. Faith Nwodo Says:

    I find the story to be out of the ordinary. it is so hard to imagine such happening in the real world. it was quite scary to know that her father had a hole in his stomach, as if that wasn’t enough, only to go further to learn that the new born baby was their late grand mother.I believe the cake from the funeral signifies the fact that they did not let go of the dead as a result led to them bring home their grand mother with them (the marzipan). The author presents to the readers fiction that has attained a high standard, but i think she took it over board.

  3. Addie Hopes Says:

    Just a reminder: your reading response is to be a “close reading response”, which means take a passage or a sentence and write a brief, informal close reading. As I said in class, sometimes your syllabus will give specific guidelines for your responses (i.e. close reading, character,time, etc.), so use the blog as a place to explore these specific methods of reading. You’ll be more prepared for class, and you’ll have more practice writing this sort of analysis when you sit down to draft an essay.

  4. Tatiana Paredes Says:

    This story was way beyond something I have ever read. The fact that the narrator’s mother still had a piece of the “marzipan” cake in the freezer was like a symbal of not being able to in a way cope with her mother’s death. When she gave birth to her mother she became more tense and brought out the cake with the narrator. The mother was really tense at the dinner table and it seems she was still uncomfortable with the idea that her mother was alive again. Tryin to pray and bring out the cake was a way of her possibly gettin over the death, but when she wraps up the cake she goes back to trying to deal with her mother birth instead of death.

  5. Paule M Seide Says:

    This was the second weirdest story I have ever read. Marzipan??!! Well, I focused my attention one of the most clear passage of the story. It’s the first one about the father waking up with the hole in his stomach. I think the hole may symbolize the kind of sickness that the father’s father died of, but it can also point to the emptiness that the father feels inside at the loss. The voice used throughout the passage is the voice of a child. Even the description and language denotes a younster’s voice” It wasn’t a small hole….it was a hole the size of a soccer ball and it went all the way through”. I think the narrator was trying to put herself in the parents position and tried to express, in her childish ways, what they must be feeling at the loss of their respective parents. Another passage, that corroborates this last statement is on the bottom of page 54″ I’ll eat yours if you don’t want it, I said to my mother. She pushed over her bowl. I pretended I was her while I ate it. I imagined I was doing the eating but she was getting nourished.” In other words, we are seeing everything though the child’s eyes and feeling through her own emotions.

  6. Paule M Seide Says:

    I do agree with Faith that the Marzipan represents the grandomther still being alive in the family and the narrator’s mother obviously doesn’t know how to deal with the fatc. But, what does it all have to do with the mother being pregnant and giving birth to her own mother but instead of young, she is still old?

  7. Ebony Edwards-Ellis Says:

    I took “Marzipan” as a surrealist attempt to describe what happens when people don’t have finished relationships with the dead. Both parents seem to have conflicted feelings about their deceased parents. As Paule says, the hole represents the father’s feeling of loss. However, on pg 46, he refers to his dad as an “asshole” and defensively insists that he felt sad over his father’s death.

    The passage that most clearly represents this ambivalence toward parents is the extended passage on pages 46-47. In it, the narrator describes what happens when they get the grandmother home from the hospital. First, the narrator states that “Hannah and I settled Grandma in the guest bedroom and our parents collapsed in the den.” The fact that the adults assume no responsiblity for accomodating the grandmother indicates that neither one of them particularly wants her there. The term “collapse” implies exhaustion or intense overwhelming feelings.

    The mother, Sharon, also seems to feel a lot of resentment over the situation. Despite having just given birth, she immediately begins rigorous exercise stating, “Fuck if my mother is going to ruin my body…Fuck that shit.” The fact that she uses such strong curses is indicative of her anger. Her use of the word “ruin” is also telling. Earlier in the story Sharon says that she views having a baby as a “special opportunity” and that she loves babies. I think it is highly unlikely that she would have used the term “ruin” if she actually had had a baby.

    During the situps, Sharon “grit[s] her teeth” and “nearly spit[s]” a sarcastic remark to her husband. She also sarcastically disputes the idea that a “miracle” has occured and dares her husband to “tell [his] fucking chromosomes to recreate [his father]. This statement tells me that Sharon was well aware of her husband’s negative feelings for his dad. It also tells me that she feels that he is somewhat responsible for what has happened and that his response to the situation is a little less than empathetic; Sharon seems to think that her husband would understand her feelings better if something similar happened to him.

    The passage also gives some insight into the state of the parents’ marriage. The couple seems to be going through a rough spot. (When the hole first appears, the narrator begins to worry that her parents are divorcing.) The father tells Sharon that she “can at least *do* sit-ups.” Is this an admission that he envies his wife’s ability to do something he cannot or is the father self-centeredly attempting to turn the topic back to himself?

    We also get more insight into older sister, Hannah’s personality. All throughout the story, Hannah and the narrator have inappropriate reactions to the events around them. In this particular passage, Hannah gossips with a friend on the phone about the ordeal, not the least bit interested with the drama occurring in the living room or taking much of an interest in her grandma. She also doesn’t seem to be concerned about her parent’s possible embarrassment over the situation. Nor does she seem to be embarrassed or bewildered–a possible indication of a general insensitivity on her part.

    This excerpt also gives us a glimpse into the relationship between the narrator and her mother. The narrator asks, “Mommy…are you okay?” She seems genuinely interested in the answer. Her mother calls her “Honey” and “puts a hand on [her] cheek.” The daughter’s eyes fill up when her mother mentions dying and tells her mother not to die. The mother gently reminds her that she will eventually die and says, “I want you to let me go.” This told me that Sharon had not “let go” of her mother and feels that that is the reason for the grandmother’s reappearance.

  8. Rizwan Bakhshi Says:

    In this story the emotions of the parents are being exposed after the death of the narrators grandparents. “One week after his father died, my father woke up with a hole in his stomach” and women (mother) gives birth to her own mother represents the lose they are feeling after their parents death. From (narrator) child’s point of view hole in fathers stomach bring out naughty thoughts where she says “You could now thread my father on a bracelet”. and imagines him on a charm bracelet wiggling at a giantess party. I agree as Tatiana says in her response “Marzipan” the cake kept frozen after the funeral symbolizes not being able to cope with the death of Sharon’s mother. The narrator being a child is unaware of emotional distress the parents are going through.

  9. Patrick Pierre Says:

    To me this story was a dream that the narrator (Sharon) was having. I believe this was symbolic of the union of parenthood. On page 42 5th paragraph done it says that the mother’s pregnant stomach could have poked out of the back of the father’s hole. This is symbolic of the lock and key or yin and yang of relationships. When the mother gives birth to her mother i believe that it shows the return of a childlike state of her mothers mind. Now they are taking care of the mother instead of the mother taking care of them. At the table when they are eating Marzipan cake and the grandmother wants more she is seated alongside of the children begging for more cake like a kid.

  10. Patrick Pierre Says:

    Also I agree with Paul when he says this is one of the weirdest stories that I have ever read. I also agree when he says that the hole in the fathers stomach is related to the emptiness of losing his father because he keeps bringing up his fathers death and greatness.

  11. Nancy Yi Says:

    This was an odd story written in the viewpoint of a child, as she watched her both her mother and father deal with the loss of a parent. The narrator’s mother has had difficulty letting go, and the father has tried to hide his grief.
    I chose the passage beginning at the bottom of pg 49, where the narrator talks to her father about Grandpa Edwin, and the hole in her father’s stomach. Like Paule, I also thought that the hole symbolized the emptiness that the father feels. Since he has not let his feelings out emotionally, it had physically manifested into a hole in his body.
    When the narrator and her father both look at the picture of Grandpa Edwin, he says, “He really was an asshole.” To me this seemed like he is pushing his emotions away, as if the grandfather is undeserving of his grief. Though the narrator laughs, her father doesn’t think that it’s very funny, and it shows that he really does care about his father.
    She then asks about the hole, if it hurts or not. Her father simply answers, “Nah … It’s no big deal.” His answer matches his attitude towards his father’s death. That it isn’t a big deal, and he’ll get over it. She then asks her father where he thinks his stomach went. He replies, “I guess it’s all still in there … I guess it’s pushed to the side.” It’s been pushed aside, just like his emotions. Then the narrator says that “He put his shirt back down, a curtain falling.” His shirt covers the hole, just like his skin covers his feelings inside.

  12. Garbra Morris Says:

    “Marzipan” was very intriguing,throughout the story the main thing that held my attention was the hole in the father’s stomach and i caught myself trying to envision a mental picture of it. It seemed like the narrator didnt’ see the father as a whole person “you could now see behind him like he was an enlarged peephole”. It was like the guilt of his fathers death was eating away at him and he didnt know how to deal with it. On the day that he was holding the father’s picture on his lab, he didn’t have anything nice to say about his father all he said was that he had “thick brown curls…and a asshole”. So obviously there is still resentment there that is not being handled in the correct way.

  13. Duchard Louis Says:

    This story is so far the weirdest I have ever read. However, I think it is an example of what happened when people leave things undone. The paragraph that best illustrates this fact is the first one.
    The first paragraph not only manages to give us an overall explanation of the past situation, but also sheds light on the current one. The first phrase explains what has happened to the family: the grandfather died. It also show us what can be the possible consequences of certain actions link to this death: the father “woke up with a hole in his stomach” a week later. The rest of the paragraph is spent on describing the hole. The second phrase gives the physical aspect of the hole. It is a big hole that has the “size of a soccer ball.” This phrase somehow shows the gravity of the consequences. The third phrase tells us what this hole has done to the father’s body. It allows people to see “behind him like he was … a peephole.” It means that it allows people to see his mistakes.

  14. Faith Nwodo Says:

    The family in this story has a problem with letting go and most especially of the dead. On pg 49, I was kind of surprised that the girl liked the cake since the mother said ” most ten-year-olds don’t like marzipan”. I assume that though the tone is childlike, it is still speaking from an adult point of view.And pg 50, her father said ” But it didn’t kill me, he said, and i’m grateful for that”. this showed that he acknowlegde the fact that he is lucky to be alive with his predicament.

  15. Rachel Shupe Says:

    I saw several underlying themes in this story in addition to grieving for the loss of parents as already stated. The first is the women of the family demasculating the father. You see this throughout the story, first seeing the father stung onto a giantesses charm bracelet at a party. He is an object of amusement. Even though there is very obviously something wrong with him, he is pronounced well at the doctors. The one thing he is proud of in this story is his miracle sperm, which upsets his wife so much that she spits. When he is proud of her big belly, she tells him “You’re not even that tall.” When the father and mother are envisioned with him on her belly, it is her wearing him instead of the opposite, and he is the one described as a fleshy toilet seat cover. After the grandmother is born, he claims responsibility and blame, only to be told “It is not… Pay attention to me.” When he tries to be understanding, saying how he loves her mother, the wife bristles and one ups him. She loves her mother too. The daughters were there for their grandmothers funeral, but the grandfathers funeral was not high priority enough for them to go to. Also, while most of the medical aspects of the father’s condition are addressed (all of his organs are intact and functioning), we never find out what happened to his spine. I could be mis reading this, but why does the grandmother’s soup have hot dogs floating in it? Is this a phallic reference? When the family attempts to pray over dinner, the mother dismisses the fathers thanks for survival as impersonal, even though she herself had nothing to say. The marzipan cake is referred to as a small football when the daughter grabs it, leading me into the next theme.
    I think that the other big theme is becoming your parents/ growing up. The women obviously wear the pants in this family, and the daughter grabbing the “football” cake seems like her taking the maternal torch; becoming her mother. There is a short power struggle when she brings the cake out- the mother wants to save it and the daughter wants to serve it, which she does. You see this several times throughout the story. When Grandma is brought home, the daughters take care of her. The daughter says that she feels herself “blooming” when she goes to her mother. She loves marzipan, in an obvious reference to her grandmother. She seems old for her 10 years throughout, especially when upon finding out that her mother is pregnant, asks if she is going to keep it. This is a big choice for a ten year old to be considering. When the family tries to pray at dinner, the daughter leads the way. She takes on the provider role by giving her extra slice of cake to her grandmother at dinner. This is also clear at the end, where the daughter envisions herself nourishing her mother with what she eats.

    Now for my close reading response, page 42 paragraph 5.
    This is the paragraph describing the mother preparing to give birth. The family accompanies her to the hospital and the daughter envisions the mother’s stomach fitting neatly into the father’s hole. The first sentence shows the family is a single unit, and the following sentences show the family splintering into their own pieces. Hannah goes out into the hallway to chat with the interns, while the narrator stands at her mothers shoulder as if standing sentry, preparing to take over. The next sentences firmly position the mother in a masculine role and the father in the feminine. She is in the active role, while he is in the passive (she could wear him, he could spin on her stomach). The picture of him laying on top of her with her stomach poking through him is a grotesques sexual reference, with her penetrating him. “He could spin on her stomach, a beige propeller.” A propeller is important to an aerial vehicle, but is a part of the whole. Beige seems to be the color that men are afraid women will make their homes and lives. “She could wear him like a fleshy toilet seat cover.” A toilet seat cover seems inherently feminine, as does fleshy.

  16. Senad Musovic Says:

    Like most others here i was just confused. i found myself stopping for a second and going “WHAT!”. i can see maybe Lisa, the small girl, making this all up about her family to further make her life more interesting but at the same time this child must have some type of mental issue. some interesting parts that caught me were her fathers stomach and when she goes to asks to touch/feel it. I was freaked out by the grandmother. Lisa’s mom giving birth to her and the grandmother streching when shes comes out , that was just a horrible thought. Also the thought of her mother’s belly going through her father’s hole and looking like a toilet seat, found that kind of amusing in a wierd way.

  17. Alan Liu Says:

    The weirdest story I ever read. There were some funny parts in the story. One part that was funny was when the mother gave birth to the grandmother and when she found out she said “I should have smoke two cigarettes.” Another funny part was when the mother was doing sit up and having a conversation with the father. This story is just weird.

  18. Michael Shernon Says:

    Marzipan was the most ridiculously absurd piece of junk I have ever had the opportunity to come across. This is Sigmund Freud on acid meeting the Grinch. The psychological aspects and their underlying sexual connotations within the text are as ambiguous as the Oedipus Complex. It is as if a grossly satisfying childhood sexual fantasy emerges to the surface (after taking a tab of acid or an 1/8 of shrooms to the head or even both)Freudian psychology would be stumped to have a case of this psychoneuroses. Obvious id and ego clashes. For example the regeneration of the mother’s mother in body and the naming of this “baby” in memory of the father’s father are implications of coping techniques probably associated with sexual regression (for example the inability to reproduce loved ones through intercourse)
    Also, “good sperm” is the only sperm in which such a fantasy to reproduce the loved ones (in name and body)can occur. This sperm can only be provided by the little girls biological father, making him the father of his wife’s mother. So the husband is real story behind the story. All sexual implications are aroused because of him.

  19. Angelina Petrova Says:

    This is a very strange story and I find it very odd that such weird things like having a hole in your stomach and giving birth to your own mother are described as absolutely ordinary things.The story was told by a 10-year-old girl, but I do agree with Rachel, that even though in many cases she sounds like a kid (she is thinking how you could thread her father on a giantess’ charm bracelet or “imagining a new sports game kind of like basketball that revolved around my father”), this little girl seems even older than her sister. Or maybe it’s just child’s curiosity and she just simply wants to be in the center of all the events. Her sister Hannah, on the other hand, doesn’t care that much and it seems like she is not very close with her parents. When her mother is giving birth at the hospital she “wandered the hallway, chatting with the interns” and when they came back home, instead of being with her family and her grandmother (who was just resurrected from the dead!), she got on the phone.

  20. Michael Shernon Says:

    Question. Do we have to write grammatically correct? I noticed a lot of mistakes in my writing but can’t find the option to edit.

  21. Michael Shernon Says:

    I disagree with Alan Liu, the guy who wrote above me. The story isn’t “just weird”. Its outrageous. Almost inhumane in a psychological, literary, and intellectual sense. Its like committing murder with words. Artistic and cute on the one hand. But outrageous and murderous on the other hand. I’d give it an overall rating of 1/8.

  22. Mina Batool Says:

    This story was very interesting and strange at the same time. First we see the father getting a hole which I didn’t think really happened at first. I thought it was just the little girls making up things but when we really find out it was shocking. It also made me feel bad about the father for having to live with such a big hole in his stomach. However the comments the girls made were a bit funny like their mother wearing him like a toilet seat. After a while another even stranger thing happens. Their mother gives birth to their grandmother who had died a few months ago. Everyone in the family seemed happy about it and not that surprized after a while but their mother was acting differently. I think she was upset maybe because she had felt she was finally over her mother’s death and now she was back. Maybe she doesnt want to have to go through that again.

  23. Onyekachi Ukwu Says:

    Marzipan is an interesting story different from everything I have read. It is funny to imagine a man with a hole in his stomach, or a woman giving birth to her own mother.
    However, beyond the interesting events that occurred in the story are the feelings of lost and refusal to accept the departure of love ones.
    A close reading of the first few lines on page 39, I tried to look past the physical hole on the stomach. Rather, I interpreted the hole to be the vacuum that death creates in the lives of loved ones left behind. Although Sharon’s husband is healthy; however, he still feels the lost of his father. He was going to name his unborn child after his father. Sharon who couldn’t accept the death of her mother happened to give birth to her.

  24. John Chen Says:

    I just found this to be interesting…

    “Where’s the baby? She asked. My mother put her arms around herself. I don’t know, she said. It’s me, said my mother’s mother. Hi grandma, I said. Hannah started laughing.” (Pg. 44)

    The author begins with a motherly desire to see one’s newborn. Then insecurity barges into the picture. And then the voice of a deceased? And of course to top it off, the innocent granddaughters greet and laugh at the unexpected fruit of their own mother’s 9 months of hard labor. Sure is a warm and touching everyday offspring scene.

    *Yanks at sociology
    Why did you have to infect me?!

  25. Onyekachi Ukwu Says:

    Mina, I agree with what you are saying. The story was both interesting and funny. It was a good point you made about Sharon being upset about the return of her mother. Probably she did not want to feel the loss of her the second time. In page 52 at dinner, Sharon is still in disbelieve or in shock on her mother’s reappearance. She gazed at her and finally went and sat close to her. She tried not to get too attached to her mother again, but she still can’t let go of her. Sharon refuses to let go of her share of the cake.

  26. leba cohen Says:

    i found this story to be very interesting from the very begining, where the father had a hole in his stomache and there was nothing wrong with him. another thing that striked me was that in the very few pages two opposites were mentioned. birth and death. one is the start of a new life and one is the end. for me, a baby being born always seems like a happy event, yet when this baby was born, it did not feel so happy. it was more on the sad side because the grandma had died, and the familyalready had to deal with it, and now that she was alive again, the family would have to deal with her death again.
    another thing about this story that striked me and that i liked was that this story was not a typical story that you can relate to. people usually do not have holes in their stomaches and are fine. and most people i know give birth to babies, and not their deceased parents. this story has a humorous ring to it. it is the type of story that keeps the pages turning with you in suspense, because such a story there is no telling what will happen next. all in all it was a cool and interesting story…

  27. Leah Mohammed Says:

    I was left in a total confused state of mind. I still do not understand the purpose behind that story. How can someone wake up with a hole in their stomach and how can another person give birth to their own mother. The hole in the stomach symbolizes that the father felt like he was missing a part of him now that his dad is gone. He misses him a lot but he is trying not to show it through his emotions but instead it comes out through his physical appearance. For the mother, the symbol is the marzipan. She is holding on to this in rememberance to her mother, who she then brings back to life. I thought it was extremely weird how they were sitting there at the dinner table eating “funeral” cake. Both the mother and the father are holding on to their parents but it shows up in different ways. Although the hole and the rebirth symbolizes the feeling of loss and emptiness for their parents, I am still confused why the father refers to his dad as an asshole, and why the mother curses in her mothers name about ruining her body and if she knew it was her mom for nine months she would have atleast smoked a cigarette.

  28. Ranese Southerland Says:

    This story is takes story telling to a whole new level(As it has been said before). I believe that the literally hole in the father stomach and the mother giving birth is representation for they’re attitudes and feeling towards their parents. The hole in the Dad seems like a missing piece of him (his father) and the mother giving birth to her own mother (in my interpretation) seems to be the character unable to give up her connection to her own mother. This is later repalyed again with the presentation of the preserved Marzipan cake.


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