An Anecdote Analyzed: “The Name of One’s Cat”

Collected: November 15, 2009, 9:50 a.m.

Setting: Golf course

Narrator: Male, 45, Caucasian

Audience: One Caucasian male, 45

Topic: The name of one’s cat

Bacon, the cat

Transition: NA

Opening Strategy: The storyteller proclaims the topic of the story with an arresting statement to the effect of “Here’s what I had to do regarding my cat.”

Exposition: The story begins in the recent historical past, whichframes the narrative, with the storyteller relaying the events of a recent visit to a veterinarian with his cat. During the visit, the veterinarian inquires as to the cat’s name, the answer to which becomes the central conflict in this story.

Rising Action: The story shifts to the more distant historical past, and to another state, when the storyteller’s cat was routinely brought to the veterinarian by another caregiver, the storyteller’s romantic partner, who did not share the storyteller’s name. Hence, the cat’s last name is different from its current owner’s (i.e., the storyteller’s).

Climax: The storyteller expresses annoyance that his cat officially has a last name other than his own.

Falling Action: The storyteller announces, with clear dismay, the cat’s official first and last names.

Denouement: The storyteller ends the story with a statement to the effect of “So, this is what I have to deal with.”

Review:
I. Arresting statement
II. Opening frame: recent historical past
III. Central conflict introduced
IV. Rising action in more distant historical past
V. Climax: expression of annoyance
VI. Commentary on the outcome of the climax: dismay
VII. Closing frame: present state of affairs

Paralingual Cues: The storyteller makes frequent use of hands to indicate a general state of exasperation, often directing them, as if accusatorily, at the sky and off in various directions.

Interruptions: NA

Comments: The story seems designed as a report on the teller’s state of mind regarding his pet, perhaps as a metaphorical statement on his condition, and on the human condition more generally, which finds us responsible for pets that, notwithstanding their companionability, remind us of those of our own species who fail us in this regard.

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