Deep Observation Assignment: Eleven Examples

One

Adriana Pauly

She closed her eyes. Just a second. One tiny moment. One pause. One breath. It was as if she could see and feel how gravity was pulling her mentally and physically to the ground. Her eyes were turned downward, her lids hung heavy over the ends, her cheeks had reached her chins, making their way towards her collarbone.

When had this change occurred? Had it been gradually, below the surface of her consciousness? Had it been hiding this whole time, only to come out under the harsh lighting of the subway, like a monster hiding in the dark? Once more, she looked at her reflection in the window across from her, only to turn her eyes back to the ground and into emptiness.

She touched her wedding band, twisting it a few times, reassurance, a solid reminder of their promise, their companionship. Twenty-seven years. Twenty-seven years, stuck, the one with the other, nowhere else to go anymore. She still liked him and she was sure he still liked her, now that the children were old enough, finally he wasn’t merely father and she wasn’t merely mother anymore. They had regained their independence finding their way back to each other.

She fidgeted in her seat. She was anxious to arrive. These seats, this light, these bodies pressed against each other, establishing an awkward intimacy. She kept her hands folded in front of her belly holding on to her city guide while trying to avoid immediate physical contact with her neighbors. A task made virtually impossible thanks to her body. She was round, her breast were big, her belly was big, her thighs were big. She had given up being a regular weight after her children had been born. It did not matter, for now anyway.

She had been walking around all day. Well equipped with her sneakers, her windbreaker jacket and scarf. The scarf. She subconsciously touched it. It was knitted out of brown wool, circling her short neck and ending in the shape of a fox head. She had bought it a long while back thinking it was a clever design, she knew it was not up to speed with the newest fashion trend, but she liked it anyway. As a matter of fact, she even felt like it embodied her personality. Round, warm, comforting and a bit goofy on the one hand, a little worn out and with some loose stitches here and there on the other.

She suddenly felt self-conscious. She felt like she was being watched. She held on tight to her city guide, avoiding eye contact with the other passengers. There were two theatre tickets stuck between the pages from the play they’d gone to see.

Discussion Questions

  • Why would somebody want to read this piece (the “Who cares?” factor)?
  • Can you clearly identify the author’s intention for the piece?
  • How well does the author support the intention of the piece? Cite specific details that support or take away from the author’s intention.
  • Is there information missing from this piece that would make its intention clearer? What else would you like to know?
  • Does the author portray herself as a round character? How does she do this?
  • Do you trust the author of this piece? Why or why not?
  • How clearly does the author establish a sense of setting/space in this piece? Cite specific details that support your claim.
  • How clearly does the author establish characters other than the self in this piece? Cite specific details that support your claim.
  • Did you learn anything new from reading this piece? If so, what?
  • Are there particular passages with engaging language/description that stood out to you? Describe the appeal of these passages.
  • Would you read more writing from this author? Why or why not?

 

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