Marie-Claire Blais’s “The Forsaken” is a story about the suffering of an ordinary person trying to find their way in a society far from the conflicts and disasters of distant lands. The story begins with the contemplation of a woman about mundane life being the cause of her emptiness. She considers the suffering of war-torn places similar to her dispirited and intellectually deprived world. On one morning, she decided that rather than live in a body “that pretended to breathe, play, live, like all the others,” she would “follow the lead of those who headed out towards distant parts.” However, she acknowledged that she cannot “live, breathe, like everyone else” until the war is over” (598). Despite the irony, she committed to not let her fears destroy her journey.
The story is great at setting the dark tones throughout the narrative. It was able to convey the feelings of lonely, depression with the use of the five senses in its narrative. It also portrays the character as a tiny speck in the grand scheme through repeatedly pointing at the sky or mountains. However, despite the harsh description of the woman’s suffering, there is also a tenderness that dissolves any disconnect with the readers. However, a weakness of the story is that it spent more time in painting the image of hollowness, that the falling action seemed too quick.
I would recommend this story because its portrayal of isolation, which is relevant to everyone at some point in their lives.
Blais, Marie-Claire. “The Forsaken.” Short Fiction: An Anthology, edited by Mark Levene and Rosemary Sullivan, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 596-598.