Behind "The Tub" Essay

Chrissi Walker 7/18/2010 Story/Poem Paper Behind “The Tub” Amy Hempel, is an incredible writer. She writes with a certain poetry feel behind every word, every line and every page. She’s an author that makes you fall in love, which is why I chose one of her stories from her book The Collected Stories that’s called “The Tub”. The story leaves you a bit confused when you read it for the first time. I reacted differently to it the third time around then I did the first time. The first time I read it, the thought that ran through my head was; “what does this all have to do with a tub? . The second time around, I read it with a little more sense of what it was and then the third time around it clicked. I have a strange reaction because it made me want to experience what the woman was experiencing. It gave me a sense of calmness, the three situations she described was a sense of being able to be calm and relaxed. The first paragraph was a description about a church, and going in to the emptiest one so she could have silence and so she could hear her heart beat while she prayed, or that’s how it came off to me.

It reminded me of the times where I sit in my room staring at a picture of my dead cat, it may sound incredibly strange but when I stare at my photo of Zeus, I am more relaxed just sitting there in silence. I like the feeling of being calm and relaxed, and the first paragraph kind of showed the beginning of the journey for her. I don’t go to church so the church description gives me no reaction but at the same time I can feel the comfort she got in being there, alone. Being alone is not always a bad thing; it can be really relieving in a lot of ways.

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The second paragraph didn’t give me a huge sense of calm, but more of like a home feeling. She describes the feeling of being at home and knowing her cat so well, knowing the tapping noise isn’t going to wake the cat, and implying that the cat knows the sounds she makes, and to decipher which is important to her. It still accomplishes the calming mood because she starts to reminisce about a time in her past that is a good childhood memory for her, and I know from experience that those memories, which ones I can remember hat is, are very calming. Just knowing that your childhood was a great time in your life because you start to think about how back then there were no worries unless you scraped your knee playing on the playground or just minor things. The stresses of life compared back to then could cause a kid to commit suicide. So thinking about that time could relax a person, because from experience, the more I think of my childhood the more sucked into the reality of the past.

Then I open my eyes and I may still be somewhat calm and relaxed but the knowing that those stresses are still there ruins the feeling. The third and final paragraph kind of gives us the conclusion, the actual tub part. In this paragraph she runs the tub full of water and slips herself in, and explains the way to hear your heartbeat. I react more to this paragraph than the other two because bathes are incredibly relaxing, and hearing the pulse of your heart underneath the water is in fact relaxing.

Taking deep breaths in perfect sync with the beats puts your body to rest almost, or at least getting prepared. She even goes into great detail with how to do it so you can hear the heartbeat. A heartbeat is an important thing, and it can be a strong reason to relax. I can’t tell you if it’s just the relief that you’re still alive or why it does but it does relax you. This story to me kind of makes me feel like three major events of the day and keeping herself calm throughout the day.

The first paragraph, even though it specifically says what kind of day it, kind of reminds me of morning, because church normally is a morning thing, and just sitting in a silent place, I truly believe that the church is representation of somewhere that’s silent, it doesn’t have to be a church. The second paragraph, it’s deeper in the day, you’re at home and standing out looking at the view seeing your pet sleep calmly, and the back patio among the area behind the house, the view, which is calm.

Then you have the last paragraph which is the closing of the day, the night, and where you take a nice bubble bath, but I think the bath and the tub is representation of just a relaxing location to put yourself in. The whole story kind of makes you feel relaxed, you read it and there’s no suspense in it, no traumatic events or anything that’s going to make you cry or get intimidated by, it’s a peaceful piece of writing. Works Cited Hempel, Amy. The Collected Stories. New York, 2007. Print.

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