Inas M. Mohamed Professor Erin McMillan English Composition 102 February 6 2010 Limitless Pictures, infinite memories. “Demonology,” touching story by Rick Moody, portrays the life of his beloved sister Meredith as he reminisces through chronologically fragmented snapshots and photos, recollecting significant moments in her life. Moody pushes the boundaries and uses the conventions of both a short story and a memoir in order to have more freedom illustrating his sister’s life. In addition, not defining the text is a strategy Moody uses to his advantage because it allows him to go beyond a mere representation of the past.
Moody narrates vivid, concrete descriptions as if he was right there, when in actuality he couldn’t have been. His style and use of language also contribute to his portrayal of his sister and the overall meaning he wishes to convey. Moody describes his sister’s life in clear, explicit details that have the reader wondering how he might know such things. This is answered by the fact that Moody’s text has some fictionalized aspects, and is not entirely non-fictional. Moody’s sense of style, concrete language, and vivid descriptions allow the reader to make connections with Meredith’s character and lifestyle.
Ultimately, Moody’s story helps us recognize the significance of lost family members and the precious memories associated with them. The story starts with Meredith taking her children out trick-or-treating on Halloween, while taking pictures of the narrator’s nephew and niece, who are her kids. This introduces Meredith’s love for capturing photographs on special events. This is also shown by the description of the massive amount of photo albums and negatives scattered all over her living room with many more floating across her basement and the rest of the house.
She loved taking pictures, capturing moments, and special events. Moody must have felt like he should capture distinct moments of her life too. She often printed pictures at a photo lab, not only her pictures but other people’s as well, “sheet after sheet of negatives, of memories”(Moody, pg 234). This helped her fulfill a sense of gratification and happiness inside. We get a feel that Meredith isn’t perfect yet the narrator unconditionally loves her because she was good-hearted in her own way.
It is evident that Meredith came from a well off family due to the exuberant and rich lifestyle she previously lead: drinking, partying, and staying out late. “She drank the demon rum, and she taught me how to do it, too” (Moody, pg 233). Moody continues to reminisce on dancing with his sister, creating mayhem on the dance floor. “We were demons for dance, for noise and excitement”(Moody pg 235). There is a portion of the story where the narrator describes dancing with his sister on the dance floor, how wild they were and how they were center of attention by being wild.
He continues illustrating these small snapshots as a way to get the reader closer to his sister, showing that although she isn’t perfect, there is still a lot to love about her personality and she had a great impact on his life. Moody’s use of language and style of writing have a great impact on the message he is trying to convey. Throughout the story, he uses words such as “demon rum”, “monsters”, and “demonic totem pole” in an effort to portray the chaotic, hedonistic lifestyle of his sister. Moody further portrays Meredith’s cat, Pointdexter.
He describes the cat as a demon that would bounce of the walls and screech uncontrollably. “Point dexter had these seizures. He was possessed. He was a demon. (Moody. Pg. 234)” However, Pointdexter was an important figure in Meredith’s life and in this story the cat serves as a symbolic figure. Pointdexter having a seizure was a way for Moody to open up to the climax and foreshadow his sister’s death. Although Pointdexter and Meredith are both compared to demons, Moody still sympathizes with his sister and towards the end of the story says “…. I shouldn’t say her life was short and often sad (239)”.
This comes to convey that no one is perfect and that everyone, especially family member comes with flaws and imperfections that we should tolerate and accept. Throughout the story, Moody talks about Meredith enduring a tough life, filled with worries, bills to pay, and responsibilities to take care of. He describes a snapshot photo of her in a Superman outfit, which he relates to being a Supermom outfit as she accepts her role of raising the kids, working hard, and growing old, yet still feeling happy. She appears to be a resilient character, which is shown through her love of taking photographs.
The narrator sympathizes with her, because she barely had enough sleep yet her time and effort for her children was priority. She accomplished so much in her life, she was musically talented, managing to fit time to start a band on top of all her other responsibilities. Moody describes, “as she played the guitar in the late sixties with her hair in braids; she played it before anyone else in my family, wandering around the chords, “House of the Rising Sun”or “Blackboard,” on classical guitar, sticking to the open chords of guitar tablature. 236)” we get a feel of Meredith’s love for music. The most crucial point in the story is when Moody describes his sister’s death. This moment is so precise and detailed that we know for sure the narrator could not have been there. This is where the text gets fictionalized. He describes the entire moment, starting initially with how Meredith fell to the floor and her daughter and boyfriends ran to her side.
Moody depicts the horrifying scene, “Her daughter knelt at the foot of the bed, staring and my sister’s boyfriend watched, as my poor sister shook, and he held her head, and then changed his mind and bolted for the phone (238). ” Here, the reader may realize that nowhere in this excerpt Moody’s emotions showed what was running though his head, or what he did, because he was never there. This vivid description allows the reader to grasp the scene and relate it to their own life as if it was one of their own family members.
Moody’s depiction of this entire scene has a verisimilitude to it, or sense of being true to life. He does a brilliant job of narrating this segment of the story truly as if he was right there. This allows him to share his love and pain for his lost sister and connect the reader into relating the story with their own lives. Towards the end of the passage, the voice of the narrator shifts, from being third person and narrating about his sister to being first person and analyzing himself and what he could have done.
Moody also implies that even though his sister Meredith wasn’t the most angelic sister in the world, he should not judge her for the person she was of the life she led. He says in the last sentence, “I shouldn’t say she had her demons, as I do too” (Moody, 239). It feels as if he wrote this entire passage to convey his love and sympathy for his sister, as well as to show how much he misses her. It enables us to relate it to our lives, and appreciate our loved ones for who they are, with their strengths and weaknesses.
Ultimately, he uses the strategy of not defining the text so he can further elaborate on portraying Meredith’s life, fictionalizing some aspects, and recollecting some from mere memory. Using the conventions of both genres allows him to tell the story of his sister’s life more personally, giving him a better grasp on what he wants to convey. Writing this piece towards his sister allows him to reconnect stories, happiness, and infinite memories that will never fade away. Works Cited Schilb, John. “Demonology. ” 4th Ed. Rick Moody. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 231-239. Print.