Why “The Balloon” is the strangest, yet most intriguing short story of the post world war II era. Complete summary of Donald Barthelme’s The Balloon. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Balloon. Dive deep into Donald Barthelme’s The Balloon with extended analysis, commentary, and discussion.

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The author probes the problems, if not the impossibility, of discovering meaning both in the external world and in one’s own consciousness.

He served briefly as the editor of an Army newspaper before returning to the U. Mar 30, Lea Dokter rated it it was ok.

Return to Book Page. Retrieved December 31, from Encyclopedia. This was a gentle and almost convincing glimpse into another person’s opinion.

I will let you know when I hear from them. One of the targets in Donald Barthelme’s second collection of short stories, Unspeakable Barthelmf, Unnatural Actsis society’s blind gropings for truth. To plunge into a Barthelme story is to immerse oneself in the flotsam and jetsam of contemporary society, for his stories are not so much plotted tales domald they are parodies and satires based on the public junk and commercial media hype that clutter up and cover over our private lives.

To write only about this process, however, is to run the risk of dealing with language on a level that leaves the reader gasping for something tangible and real, even if that reality is only an illusion.

Although we discover at the end that the balloon is the objectification of something personal to the speaker, we realize that because the speaker’s feelings must be objectified in images and language, it is removed from life and cut free of meaning.

Rather, he wishes to present modern men and women as the products of the media and the language that surround them. Because they are satires, many of the stories are based not on the lives of individuals but on the means by which that abstraction called society or the public is manipulated. Dubliners Centenial One hundred years ago, the great collection of stories Dubliners by James Joyce appeared.


Reading Alice Munro’s “Family Furnishings”. Henry Award Part 2 1 Ronald. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Elisa rated it it was ok Dec 04, Also I just really love the balloon as a choice of metaphor or I suppose balloon could be seen as a literal art piece within a piece of fiction as wellit just brings such, sorry for repeating myself, soft whimsy to something that could otherwise be made into something complicated and dense.

Subjects Discussed on Reading the Short Story. The story is simple, yet brings the mind across all manners of thinking and wondering.

The Balloon

Apr 02, Kest Schwartzman rated it it was amazing. Jul 17, Tash rated it it was amazing. As a giant balloon comes to exist in a city dinald people have different interactions with this mystical balloon, all of which reflect different attitudes to art. Open Preview See a Problem?

For seven or so pages the speaker describes the balloon and the numerous reactions to it. Barthelme is not really interested in the personal lives of his characters; in fact, few seem to have personal lives.

The Balloon by Donald Barthelme

Is it all What is the Balloon, why is it here? In an interview, Donald Barthelme recounts when he first began writing, he wrote Hemingway-like stories but could see his efforts were awful and how his writer’s voice needed to develop in a radically different direction. The participant—the reader, like the lover-narrator—becomes the balolon artist or creator, and depending upon his or her system, grid, or frame of reference, constructs, or manipulates, or rejects, or simply plays with whatever responses the balloon elicits.

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Indu Muralidharan rated it it was amazing Nov 13, Henry Prize Stories 2 O. All, however, “interpret” it according to their own frames of reference, and Barthelme has a heyday tracing the gamut of responses. Consequently, some of Barthelme’s pieces insist that the reader have a background knowledge of contemporary philosophic thought albeit philosophic thought that has become cheapened by public chatwhile others are based on popular culture.

Beautifully ablloon but entirely confusing.

Critics complained that Barthelme’s work was without subject matter, without character, without plot, and without concern for the reader’s understanding. Donald Barthelme was born to two students at the University of Pennsylvania. Lists with This Book. The fiction of Donald Barthelme valloon a major readjustment for readers who came to it accustomed to the leisurely linear story line of the traditional novel barthslme the conventional short story.

Donxld underlying assumption is that the forms of art are explainable by the laws of art; literary language is not a proxy for something else, but rather an object of study itself. A memorable postmodern, metafictional snapper straight from the outrageous imagination of Donald Barthelme. Bbarthelme one must know — this is a fundamental presupposition, presupposing what is fundamental — how to determine the intrinsic — what is framed — and know what one is excluding as frame and outside-the-frame.

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. The primary effect of this mode of thought on contemporary fiction is that the story has a tendency to loosen its illusion of reality to explore the reality of its illusion.