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"friendly Skies" Analysis

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"Friendly Skies" Analysis

T. Coraghessan Boyle's short story, "Friendly Skies," is about a woman named Ellen who is trying to get to New York to visit her mom, but keeps getting delayed. The engine on her first plane catches on fire, and they are forced to turn around for an emergency landing. Once back at LAX, where she had started from, she is only able to get a non-direct flight that stops off in Chicago. While on this flight, Ellen keeps thinking of grim details of her past, and she takes prescription medicine with alcohol to try and numb her pain. Eventually, a man named Mr. Lercher goes crazy on the plane and threatens to kill everyone. With her built up frustration, Ellen picks up a fork and stabs the man repeatedly, which helps in restraining him long enough to land in Denver. Boyle shows that repressing one's feelings might cause them to build up, resulting in an irrational outburst of emotion.

The protagonist of the story is Ellen. Ellen, who is a flat character, is a depressed, negative individual at the beginning, and remains that way until the conclusion. This is indirectly illustrated at the end when she should have felt proud of stopping Mr. Lercher, but instead "It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. There would be forms to fill out, a delay in Chicago, an uneventful flight into New York, eight hours behind schedule" (209). She is also a static character because she remains emotional and drunk throughout the story, even though it seems she is changing at times. Ellen is repeatedly drinking her problems away throughout the story, and at the end "[she] sat, dazed, over yet another Scotch..." (209) By using the words "yet another," the author implies that everything is the same. The constant negative attitude and drinking both aid in repressing her feelings, which might cause them to grow into an unexpected outburst of emotion.

The main conflict in the story is internal and deals with the protagonist's battle with her depression and getting rid of past memories. A man named Roy, who is her ex, actually starts this conflict in the past when he is in the teachers' lounge at the school they are working at. In front of Ellen's mother and colleagues, Roy shouts at her: "So what if I am sleeping with her? What's it to you? You think you own me? Do you? Huh, shit-for-brains? Huh?" (206) Ellen battles with negative emotions from this bad experience and these feelings bottle up inside, making



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