Pretentious Literature Questions (PLit Q’s) that I ask myself after reading Rebekah Frumkin’s “Monster” in the sixteenth issue of Post Road Magazine:
- Elaborate on the idea that the anthropomorphic, entirely-malevolent Panther Man (Man Panther?) haunting his home is a projection of Danny’s burgeoning, frightening emotional awareness of the tormented lives of the adults in his world. Don’t talk about the Panther only as a projection of his father. How does the consistent lack of communication between all parties involved inform the various appearances of the Manther? Why do big cats often take the fall as symbols of menacing emotional dread in short stories (e.g. “Tooth and Claw” by T.C. Boyle)? Talk about all of the references to the PanManther’s metallic teeth for bonus points.
- Does Danny’s entire fear of the baby in the ice box and his confusion over it signal more than just the early terrors of sexual awareness? Doesn’t the unknown sex act becoming known sort of also bring up even more terrifying questions about life and death, and the complete lack of intimacy in Danny’s family exacerbates this most terrifying aspect of losing innocence?
- Speaking of innocence, how does Emma fit into all of this? Does her character represent only the persistence of naive innocence, or don’t her touches and affections just feed into all of the scary stuff that Danny’s trying to figure out without any sort of language to guide him?
- How does Danny’s latent emotional awareness compare to Djamel’s at the end of the story? Couldn’t his (Djamel, that is) gauntness and unspecified fasting represent a physical response to a lot of the same existential problems with which his equally harried, Western pen pal continues to grapple?
- There’s no way you’re still reading this, but I’ll ask this two-parter anyway: what exactly is the name of the Monster, and how did this college junior get into the 2009 Best American Non-Required Reading?
Alright, that last one was a bit of a loaded question. Most of us can probably guess at the name of the monster by the end of the story, and it got into that anthology because it is really damn good.