Donald Barthelme, "Sentence"


1. Describe how "Sentence" imparts the experience of both reading and writing such a formally compressed fiction. What kind of pressure does the form put on the writer? What kind of pressure does it put on the reader? Why does this story have to be just one sentence? Why is there no period? Why, actually, is it an endless sentence?

2. Pinpoint moments in which the momentum of the sentence is stopped, through parenthetical digression or other techniques. What is the nature of the content of these moments? How is the logic of the sentence contained in these digressions, and how is it dissolved?

3. Lines such as "their sentences weren't having the knockdown power of the new weapons"; "consciousness is always consciousness of something"; "worrying about the sentence, about its thin wires of dramatic tension, which have been omitted"; "the run-mad skimble-skamble of information sickness"; and "the sentence is a man-made object" all are paradigmatic of postmodernism, and the postmodern author/individual's response to the conditions of contemporary culture. Describe how this is so, and explore this meaning in relation to the idea of the sentence as protagonist, as symbol of the author, as symbol of the story, and as symbol of the life of a narrative.

4. Explore the different elements of language (e.g., advertising jargon) that appear in "Sentence."

"See the Moon?"