“Keith,” by Ron Carlson

13 Feb

Here we have a story that combines–to unusual effect–lightness of tone and heart-wrenching pathos. It’s quite funny throughout and, finally, sad as hell. Taken in the context of our textbook chapter on revision, please consider the following questions.

How does “chemistry” function in this story, both metaphorically and practically? To put it another way, how would the story change if they’d met in, say, history, or English, or whatever? Surely any of those other classes might assign students to be partners.

How has the author prepared us for Barbara, against most common sense, actually going out with Keith in the first place? Why does she do it?

Do you feel sorry for Brian? Why or why not?

What role does Trish play? Why is she vital to the story? (Or is she?)

Usually stories are either funny or sad. Not too many of them are both. Why is this, and how has the author managed to have it both ways in this story?

Look at the earlier draft of “Keith” in your text, and read the penultimate section. In the earlier version it takes place while Keith is washing his truck. The final version is set in the airport. Why did Carlson make this change?

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193 Responses to ““Keith,” by Ron Carlson”

  1. Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    The story has been made into a movie, by the way. I’ve never seen it, but I noticed it on Netflix. http://literarymorsels.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/from-page-to-screen-keith-by-ron-carlson/

    • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

        Looks unnecessary to me, though harmless.

        • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

          So it’s like paper clips in the post-staples world.

        • shannon February 13, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

          Nice dramatic music. Also lol at Jessie McCartney as Keith.

  2. shannon February 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    I really liked the change of the ending. Like Carlson said in his little section, the airport seemed more of a quirky place Keith would go. It was nice in the pre-edited version to see him have the goal of running the 880, but the goodbye seemed more profound when the couple created such an intimate moment in such a public place.

    • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      I liked how their last names were on opposites ends of the alphabet, that had to be on purpose.

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

        Hadn’t thought of that, but yeah. And Barbara and Brian were both at the “front” too.

      • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

        I noticed that as well and figured it to be a hint at their characters. A would be the top of the class, pretty etc. and Z like he mentions is sort of a loser. Loved that detail and that somebody else caught it!

        • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

          I also thought their names were a good indication of their characters. Barbara Anderson almost sounds like a news anchors name and Keith’s name was average.

  3. Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Anyone seen the movie? Is it similar?

    • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      I haven’t, but I have a hard time seeing them drag this story out for ninety minutes without it getting tedious.

      • Ashley February 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

        Agreed!

  4. ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Even before realizing that it had been made into a movie, I found myself reading it like a screen-write. I saw the chemistry room as my chemistry class in high school and imagined my neighborhood when they were dropping off the bowling balls. It was easy to make the story your own

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      I agree and I think it had a lot to do with the pathos that was clear throughout. I connected it to other sad love stories that involve illness like A Walk to Remember. I had an easy time picturing what was going on.

    • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      I agree, I pictured the chemistry classroom like in Twilight…please don’t judge me! But I agree it was easy to make up my own place for each scene.

  5. matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    I really liked how the author used Chemistry class and the happenstance of them being partners to develop the chemistry between the two that would not have normally happened. Maybe it is just me, but I like it when a story has these underlying metaphors. It help develop the story and pull the reader in.

    • Ashley February 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      I do too, but of course it was a little typical. I like Kelly’s thought above about what if it was History or English? I think they could find ways to connect the two again in various subjects, just as a cheesy partner pairing for the reading of Shakespeare or something.

      • shannon February 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

        I think it gave it a little quirk to the pun of the “chemistry” they developed though. The cheesy humor made me like them as a couple more…like Keith as a character more.

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

        Maybe connecting it to a certain romance book or an old tale or something. Maybe in history they could reenact something like the battle of Troy and the love story there.

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      Definitely lots of underlying meanings throughout.

    • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      I thought it was a tad cliche, but it was a good segway into the love story

    • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      I like how their relationship transformed. At first they were forced to be together. Then Keith seeked Barbara out, and finally she found herself being drawn to Keith.

  6. jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    I felt like Trish was another person who kept Barbara in “reality,” and I thought it was interesting to see how Barbara portrayed Keith to someone on the outside (who wasn’t someone she was necessarily lying to about him like she was to Brian).

    • Ashley February 13, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      Agreed, and without Trish, I don’t know how I would’ve made sense of why Barbara would’ve gone with Keith in the first place.

      • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

        Agreed

        • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

          We needed someone to help talk Barbara into going with Keith. Also, it kind of shows that Trish must not like Brian that much, which tells us something about him.

          • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

            What if Trish played the character that would talk Barbara out of it and maybe that would cause Barbara to want to go with Keith.

    • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      Did anyone else get the feeling that Trish was an odd choice in best friend for Barbra? She seemed a little hard core to me… but maybe that extreme contrast is the point of their friendship

      • Ashley February 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

        I liked it. It’s that contrast that friends need a lot of the time. One seems a little more outspoken and daring, and we can see how that influences Barbara throughout.

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

        I see what you mean, but it doesn’t seem too far fetched for the “good girl” to have a wilder friend. Doesn’t every friend group have at least one person he’s a little crazier than the others?

  7. Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    I found myself rooting for Keith throughout the story. At first I was thinking “what about Brian?” but as I read on, I was able to connect with his quirks and how odd he was. I loved that I was able to connect on a deeper level with a character.

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      I don’t know. I still felt bad for Brian. We didn’t really get Brian’s point of view. I wish we had.

      • Ashley February 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

        Agreed. I wanted a little more from Brian and not just Barbara and Keith talking ABOUT Brian.

        • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

          Honestly, as a character I really did not like Keith. Everything he said really just didn’t make any sense to me. I don’t know if that was meant to make him mysterious, but for me it was really annoying and I wouldn’t have given him the time of day if he had been a real person.

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

        I didn’t like Brian’s gift to her. Matching scooters, really? It’s kind of a cutesy control thing, a way to tell everyone that this is “his” girl. Also, he always wins in golf. And he wasn’t that sympathetic to her after she lost the tennis match.

        • shannon February 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

          I definitely pictured him as a jokey, dick of a boyfriend. He seems very possessive, too (like when he was early for their date).

      • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

        She was obviously bored with Brian due to the cheating and all the lying that was happening in their relationship. I believe that she knew what keith was doing after the first “not date”, she was just looking for something new and exciting even if it was only temporary

      • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

        I actually don’t mind not knowing Brian. If he was so incredible then Barbara wouldn’t have lied to him or have agreed to go out with Keith at all.

        • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

          He could have still been incredible…she’s young, probably confused.

    • Nikki February 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      I think also the fact that we don’t see that much of Brian, he’s just the guy who buys her a red scooter, makes us root for Keith more.

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

        I would like a red scooter……

        • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

          ditto, a red vespa sounds ok…

        • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

          Even if your boyfriend bought himself a matching one? Seems kind of overly cutesy to me. Shall we say, twee?

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

        And he’s the guy who might talk her into going to a crappier college, just to be with him.

        • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

          True. Giving up Brown for a boy? Not a good idea.

      • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

        Exactly! But I agree with the comments above, had we gotten more from Brian I may have rooted for him a bit more.

    • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      I really didn’t have any emotional connection to Brian … ha I felt like Barbara really didn’t like Brian that much – it’s not like she defended him ever really and she really didn’t have a problem lying to him, which makes it seem like she wasn’t really that worried about losing him. I was definitely rooting for Keith!

    • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      I felt like if Brian was more involved in the story, and was not simply just “talked about”, it would have been a harder choice. The way it was written and how everything plays out, it’s not hard to root for the hapless underdog trying to win over the girl. Also, if Keith was not opposite to Barbara, and Brian for that matter, it would have made the choice less obvious.

  8. matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    I sort of feel bad for Brian, but at the same time I don’t. Love stories are always good when the unlikely couple falls in love over the expected.

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      And there probably wouldn’t be a “story” if there wasn’t someone that we were feeling bad for…

    • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      Exactly! They were from different worlds and I like how they were brought together in spite of it.

      • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

        At the end of the day it was still cheating though.

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

        Brian represents normalness, doing what you’re supposed to do. Keith is all about going for it, being spontaneous and wild and odd and different. In the end, we see that Keith lives on in Barbara. She’s a little like him, making up stories.

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

        They weren’t really from different worlds though…they were both in the same chemistry class.

        • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

          Different personalities definitely, but not “worlds”

    • Nikki February 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      I mostly don’t and I kind of like that. If I felt bad for him, then it would’ve been more about a love triangle instead of the relationship between Barbara and Keith.

  9. Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Keith to me was that dark character who definitely had some weird quirks. I guess that’s attractive to some but made me very curious as to what was going on in his head. I am very curious to watch his character portrayed in the movie, mostly to see if he acts how I pictured it.

    • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      Sort made me think he was unreliable. Especially with the fact that he is on medications.

    • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      I disagree with Keith being a dark character. He defentially had some depressing moments, but I saw his quicks as almost whimsical.
      -He enjoyed riding the school bus (nobody in high school likes riding the bus).
      -comments on the pleasure of smelling sulfur just like people at the gates of hell
      -they go thrifting to buy bowling balls to put on people’s porches
      – pretending to be sick people in their pjs

      • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

        I guess he is sort of twisted in the fact that he wanted this girl who he had been admiring for so long to fall in love with him before he died. Selfish, but she did not seem as upset as I thought she should be at the end

        • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

          I agree with Gina. I think Keith knows how to enjoy the little things in life and he taught Barbara how to do the same.

  10. jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    This story reminded me a lot of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Keith’s personality and outlook on life reminded me a lot of Gus in TFIOS … has anyone else read it?

    • shannon February 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      YES! I was thinking this as well!

      • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

        and it reminded me of it because it’s happy/funny but also sad … and I feel like that’s really rare but also awesome? ha

        • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

          I’ll look for it.

        • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

          I also thought about “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”, all very similar to this.

    • Nikki February 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      It’s going to be a movie I know.

  11. Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Back to Chemistry. Many of you seemed to think it was a bad choice. I liked it. Think about all the ways that chemistry comes into the story. He’s going through chemo. His disease is basically a matter of chemistry. People are said to have sexual chemistry, as Barbara and Keith surly have.

    • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

      Also, all that hellish sulfur. Keith is like the devil, tempting the innocent young virgin, with sulfur smoke drifting up as he talks. I think it’s really funny.

      • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

        Good point with the sulfur. That did work well.

    • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      I enjoyed the parallels of chemistry in this story. Any other subject would have seemed unthoughtful. It may have been cliche but I think it worked in this instance, it was vague but it was brought up in all the right places throughout the story. Like when he isn’t in chemistry class but the chemistry between Keith and Barbara is just coming to life. I loved the comparison.

    • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      Eh. I get what the author was going for and it was effective but it reminded me that it was a story and not real. Life doesn’t typically happen in ways which lends itself to perfect metaphors for writing.

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

        Good point.

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

        I definitely agree. Seemed like life wouldn’t be that twisted..but then again…

    • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      Yeah I liked that running theme also. I thought it was something that kind of kept it all together even though some parts of the story seemed more random. It all kind of connected with chemistry I thought.

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

      I liked it too. I thought the connections were extremely clever and added a lot more emotion to the story. As a reader, there were all these super emotional connections occurring. Chemistry was definitely the right choice. It also makes you wonder if a girl like Barbara would feel bad for Keith because he was so sick…if she had known earlier.

  12. matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Anybody have an idea as to what was wrong with him medically?

    • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      Is it cancer?

      • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

        I just assumed it was, since Carlson never explicitly stated what was wrong with him. I also just assumed that Trisha was correct about it.

      • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

        Trish implies that it is cancer due to his bald head so I guess we just assume/he misses a week of school. If not, Keith is very twisted

    • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      He had cancer.

      • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

        Thought so, was a bit unsure though.

        • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

          He knows he’s going to die by the end. Remember the part about his counselor?

        • Nikki February 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

          Trish says “Bald kids in high school without earrings have got cancer.” Even though he never said it, it was definitely hinted at several times.

          • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

            I agree!

  13. Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    Would be interesting if there was nothing medically wrong with him…

    • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      He used it as a ploy? haha plot twist.

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

        dun dun dun…now he’s just that creepy weirdo in chemistry class that took her virginity.

      • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

        haha best sequel ever-Keith moves to another town, people just assumed he died, and he continues to serially seduce girls in relationships and convince them that he’s dying.

        • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

          that’s a really good plot twist. I’d totally read that sequel.

    • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      Carlson wrote a version where he was just tricking her and pretending, but he quickly got rid of that. Makes Keith into a major creep. Much more affecting this way.

      • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

        Really? Wow.

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

        Interesting. Patrick you should write that.

    • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

      His sickness is what gave him the courage to “pursue” Barbara. I don’t think he would have been promoted to talk to her outside of chemistry class if he hadn’t of been sick.

      • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

        truth

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

        That would be the twisted part…maybe he had some chemical imbalance but wasn’t actually sick..and this just was how he is.

      • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

        Well said.

  14. Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    I honestly had a hard time following Keith’s and Barbara’s relationship during this whole story. There were so many questions, and the way they talked I really wasn’t sure if I should root for them or dislike them as a couple. I felt bad for Keith thought since he had cancer, but he was very confusing to me as a character.

    • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      What reason would you have to dislike them?

      • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

        really it was mostly the sneaking around and the fact that keith said he wouldn’t lie to her and wasn’t tricking her but kinda was anyway. The whole fact that she was already in a relationship just threw me off haha

        • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

          I hear you, but I just didn’t take Barbara and Brian seriously as a couple. Staying with him would have been a mistake. Emotions run high in high school, but most high school romances are just temporary things anyway.

      • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

        I’d like to hear more about that as well…

    • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      I thought the parts that were a mystery of their relationship made it more interesting. I liked that we weren’t really sure “what they were” and that they weren’t sure either.

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

        I agree. Definitely more interesting. I really liked them.

  15. ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Can we assume that Barbra and Brian breakup because she ends up at Brown in the last paragraph? She should probably marry an oncologist that went to brown…

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      but then she would always be thinking about Keith.

    • shannon February 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      I would have hoped that they broke up sooner….as in after her and Keith hooked up at the hospital. But we really don’t know if they do then, do we?

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

        She told Brain to leave her alone, and she didn’t let him kiss her or anything anymore. I think they broke up off screen as it were. At the end, Keith says something about her asking for the scooter back, which means she gave it back to Brian.

    • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      I thought they ended it because he was about to die. That’s why he was having to see the counselor so he could come to terms with dying.

      • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

        Oh whoops thought you meant Barbara and keith

    • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

      I honestly thought they broke up the moment brian found her and keith at her locker. He wasn’t really mentioned much after that except in passing.

  16. matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    About the bowling balls, maybe I just didn’t catch it…. what was the motive to get and personalize bowling balls for the there teacher/friends/Brian? Is there a significance to what they had ingrained into them?

    • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      I think that just adds to the electic personality that Keith has. No rhyme or reason, just him being him

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

        Totally. That’s the point of him. He doesn’t need a logical reason to do the things he did. He did it because it was fun. And just think of finding a bowling ball on your porch. It would make you wonder.

    • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      I just thought they were being weirdies ha but I don’t know if there was some sort of hidden significance. I think just the weirdness of going around placing bowling balls on peoples doorsteps at 4am was to just add to their odd relationship.

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

        I like that word, weirdies. I will steal it. Thank you.

      • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

        I just sorta thought that if Keith was dying, he was using this as a last effort to make a difference in someone’s life. Since I already thought he was weird, I figured he would think that randomly giving people bowling balls was a nice gesture.

  17. ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    *eclectic

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      It could also be electric*

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

        I like electric better.

        • Patrick February 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

          exotic! The sequel can be set in South America. Keith in Brazil.

  18. Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Overall, I thought this story was definitely a sappy, sad romance tale. I think it would have been more interesting if the ending was so predictable. But I still enjoyed reading it.

    • shannon February 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      I liked how it wasn’t “totally all in” sappy. Like Kelly said in one of the questions in the top, there are a lot of stories that are sad/funny. I think that’s because that’s how life is…we can’t let ourselves be entirely depressed or overly eccentric all the time; what makes our lives interesting is that there is a mix of the two.

  19. matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Keith seems very disconnected, almost apathetic, at the airport. Is he upset that he is leaving and doesn’t want to make it a big deal? The way he talk about what happened between them “he just screwed around with Barbara”, makes me feel like he is trying to be tough and hold back the realization of what him and Barbara had. Barbara on the other hand is emotional and very involved about what they had. It almost seemed as if Barbara was more involved in it than Keith was. But that could just be Keith holding back trying to conceal himself in a facade.

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

      Yes but I think at that point Keith had accepted death. He had done what he wanted and was ready to move on..literally.

    • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

      I think you’re right, maybe it was a facade because he was sick, dying and afraid? Could it be that he cared for her so much that he couldn’t bare to hurt her by leaving her? Or I’m getting to romantic, also possible!

      • shannon February 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

        Ahah Jenna. I agree!

    • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

      I think he didn’t want to make saying goodbye harder than it already was so he was trying to distance himself from her as much as possible mentally.

    • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

      This is the crisis point for Barbara. Keith is bummed because, duh, he’s going to die. He’s trying to let her off easy by making their affair less than what it was. Barbara is too strong for that now. She’s on board, and she’ll take the pain. She has grown up by that point.

      • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

        I give her major props. Most high school girls would have crumbled if this happened to them. But maybe that is what makes barbra so special and why Keith loved her

      • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

        Everyone talking about romance just makes me think that this is appropriate because tomorrow is valentine’s day. haha but really I just did not find their relationship all that romantic. I just couldn’t figure out their characters and how they could possibly fit together.

        • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

          I thought the relationships were extremely romantic. A tear-jerker for sure. The ending was especially romantic with the trophy. Best part.

        • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

          I think that it may not look like a lot at surface level, but I think that their attraction goes back to chemistry. It was all out of their control from the beginning. They were meant to have this love affair. They both were meant to feel what they felt even for just a brief amount of time.

    • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

      I think it was an act. He had so much that he was already dealing with that saying goodbye to Barbara must have been incredibly difficult. I do agree that I don’t like how he said he just screwed around with her. It takes away from what they had.

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

        Agree. Keith had “won” essentially. He had no baggage or emotion or dealing with someone that he loved that would be gone. Barbara on the other hand would be the one dealing with the loss.

  20. ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    What did everyone think of the ending? Barbra gets to Brown and the motorcycle trophy is sitting there waiting from her? What about the last line about how she tells people she won the windowmaker hill climb and then she gave up her motorcycle forever?

    • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

      Every time I read that ending a few tears flow. Embarrassing, I know, but I can’t help it. This story just gets me. And that she puts it in her window for everyone to see. She’s proud of this, it’s what made her who she is, a strong person.

    • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      I was a bit confused and thrown off by the ending. Is this an analogy for Keith? That she “won him” and then gave him up because he died? Or am I reading too much into that…

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

        You’re not reading too much into it, but I think you’re reading it too literally. She didn’t win Keith so much as she won her independence, won her “personhood” as Carlson puts it in his notes on the story.

        • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

          Ahh, yes that makes a bit more sense.

    • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

      I also think it’s a moment of unreliability. She won’t give up “her motorcycle” forever. She’s lost Keith forever, but she will love again, and she’ll always be an adventurer from now on. She’ll always kick ass because of what she learned from Keith.

      • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

        what exactly did she learn from him?

        • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

          I think that he taught her that it’s okay to let go and it’s okay to be weird. That life can be more fun and awesome than she thought. I feel like before Keith she was just a cookie-cutter top-of-the-class high school girl, but after she gained realness.

          • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

            She learned it’s okay to be weird. I like that!

          • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

            I love that!

        • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

          She learned to be spontaneous. To have unconventional fun. To be different from other people. To use her imagination and not just her looks and popularity. She learned to dump boring Brian who would have held her back if he could have.

          • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

            I think she also learned that it’s okay to be vulnerable and break away from normalcy and what may seem “comfortable”

        • shannon February 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

          She learned to be more like a Z than to be an A.

        • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

          She learns to be carefree and I think she learned to appreciate life. Also without him she probably would have followed Brian to the state school instead of going to Brown.

      • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

        In a way Keith helped her grow, helped her deviate from your typical high school girl.

        • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

          I honestly think while reading this that I was just looking at everyone at a surface level. Maybe I just didn’t identify with the characters, but after everyone explains it I like the story a little more now. To be honest though, I was a little heartbroken at the end because to me she basically lost her first love. She was a lot stronger than I would have been.

    • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

      I feel like she is keeping Kieth with her for forever in a way because she tells people that weird story and that’s totally something Keith would do.

      • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

        I think that maybe we all should embody a little bit of Keith. He had such a sense of adventure and purpose in life and it is unfortunate that we sometimes realize this when thing like cancer happen

        • Jenna Riordan February 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

          I 100% agree with this. The lesson that he taught Barbara is one that we should all take with us. Breaking out of our comfort zones is good for us…even when we don’t have cancer. A cliche, but a “live like it’s your last day” mentality.

  21. Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    To root for Keith is to root for the underdog, the oddball, the quirky nerd, and therefore to root against conventionality, the appropriate handsome Brians of the world.

    • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      but the vespa…

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

        shallow girl.

      • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

        Just kidding! Go Keith!

      • shannon February 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

        I would’ve kept to when I went to Brown….

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

        You’re right. Barbara is a fool.

    • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

      hmmm does that mean that all handsome guys are boring? haha

      • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

        probs haha

      • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

        was Keith not handsome? He was just lacking hair.

        • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

          valid

        • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

          I pictured him handsome in a way. Bald people are pretty too

      • ginafilippo February 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

        he was just lacking hair

      • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

        Good question! The truth is, of course not. Just like not all ugly people are interesting or nice or anything. I guess it’s not Brian’s handsomeness that’s the problem, but his normal-ness. Keith is a weirdie, as Jessica put it. I took it he was average looking. Nobody ever noticed him until he started stepping up into the big leagues.

    • Jackie Kreiner February 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

      Such a weird thing to think of, but it sort of reminds me of the show beauty and the geek. It was nice to see the “geek” get the girl.

    • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

      But everybody loves an underdog!

    • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

      Everyone always has a soft spot for the underdog.

      • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

        that’s because the underdogs are actually decent human beings.

        • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

          are they all decent human beings though? what about the story of the “bad” underdog?

          • Danielle February 13, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

            there’s a story where there is a bad underdog?

            • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

              maybe an underdog who wants to come out on top for the wrong reasons … ?

              • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

                That’s a great story idea!

                • Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

                  Totally. Now you have to write it.

                  • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

                    by “you” do you mean me? because I make no promises.

              • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

                That might work.

          • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

            Then you get a story of the expected. The disadvantaged don’t win out. It almost approaches a cliché.

            • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

              But you could make him out to be a good underdog with some secret that makes him bad.

            • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

              I don’t know. Just thinking aloud.

              • jessicagerdisch February 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

                by aloud do you mean in writing? ha jk

                • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

                  haha yes I do!

        • matthewdmurphy11 February 13, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

          not giant tools? :p

  22. Kelly Daniels February 13, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Thanks everybody! Another great discussion. You guys are very likable online (as in person). Hope you hang in there at Augie. I read there’s some kind of water problem? Bummer. I’ll be back before too long. In the meantime, drop me a line if you have any questions. All is good here in Mexico. I’ll tell you all about it sometime.

    • Kaitlyn Czerwonka February 13, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Have a margarita for us! No water here 😦 Enjoy Mexico!

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