Friday, March 19, 2010

Ordered Chaos

"The Babysitter" by Robert Coover is a strange and perverse tale of a babysitter for the Tuckers. Some people believe that the Babysitter is simply told completely out of order, and that this tale can be reordered to become the original piece. I, on the other hand, felt that the babysitter was a jumble of time and possibilities.

Metafiction is described by Daniel Green as a medium that "simultaneously expose[s] the artifice involved in literary creation and work[s] to restore the value of that artifice." Thus, Metafiction focuses on the medium, the very text and language that is used to create a story, and tries to bring it to the attention of the reader. "The Babysitter" does this by jumbling the events into unordered blocks. Each paragraph is placed out of order to give the reader something that is disjointed, thought provoking, and that will force the reader to order. This method forces the reader to take a deeper step into "The Babysitter" because each reader may walk with the short story differently.

I felt that, while the baby sitter could simply be an unordered story, the story could simply be a jumble of time and possibilities. The story, at first, seems to take steps in a direction that could indeed be coherent; the baby sitter arrives, we see her boyfriend talking about calling her, we see the kids having fun, getting baths, etc. It all seems to just be out of order, but then the story seems to take a step in a more complex direction. We add in day dreams and fantasies of the boyfriend and the husband, Mr. Tucker. Are they mere fantasies or alternate realities?