ERIC Number: ED337812
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
The Search for Family: Comedy and Pathos in Anne Tyler's Later Novels.
Zoghby, Mary D.
Anne Tyler's rare talent for combining comedy and pathos enables her to create characters whose pain is felt by the reader or student even as that same reader is led into laughter by the ludicrous situations in which Tyler places these characters. In her last three novels, "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,""The Accidental Tourist," and "Breathing Lessons," this ability to write comedy, indeed to structure farcical situations, without severely distancing her characters from the reader contributes significantly to both the critical and the popular success of her works. In all three novels the protagonists, who suffer varying degrees of isolation and loneliness, do not give up the search for family solidarity though for them the pain is not mitigated by laughter as it is for the reader. An examination of scenes from all three novels show how, with her humor, Tyler entertains readers and endears her characters to them. She makes the characters and their everyday experiences memorable, and perhaps less pitiable than they would otherwise be, so that it is easier to see them as having behavior patterns similar to the reader's. Tyler's sympathetic portrayals ensure that the readers laugh not at the characters, but at their unexpected remarks and actions. Amid the incongruities, the slapstick, the clever strategies in the action of these novels, Tyler tells a story of men and women whose suffering moves the reader to experience some pity even while laughing--for these characters who long for strong family bonds are not, after all, too distant from the readers. (PRA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Pathos; Tyler (Anne)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the College English Association (San Antonio, TX, April 18-20, 1991).