Loss and Displacement

Loss and DisplacementName


Aimee Bender is a short story writer and American novelist who graduated from the distinguished creative arts program at the University of California, Irvine.  Bender has a unique use of metaphors and word play that sets her apart from other writers. The overall purpose of a writer’s work can be interpreted through the techniques that he/she apply. Their purpose may vary from being informative, fictitious or even as a form of advertising, but it is this underlying purpose that enables the readers to understand and take meaning or interpret the main context of the author’s work. In a large way, it also assists the readers to get familiar with the influences trigger the authors to make such decisions regarding the information they will bring out in their works. Additionally, the authors select wisely the details and words they use in order to achieve their purpose (Maunder 93). It thus follows that authors may never always be aware of what it is that they are doing as they start on a work of literature, and Bender herself acknowledges in an interview with the Buffalo Almanack. This paper will discuss Aimee Benders short story ‘Loser’ to identify the choices and decisions she makes in her writing in order to bring out the theme of loss and displacement. The story is about an orphan who loses his parents at a very tender age without having any control over their loss, but later turns out to be a helper for other people in finding things that they lose and misplace. It is a story of how a young man feels lonely and isolated as he is abandoned and has to deal with the horrors of the hard past of losing his parents early and even feels displaced without a family unit.

The first writing choice that Aimee Bender employs to make the readers understand that her story is about loss and displacement is the human conflicts that occur in the story between the orphan and his neighbors, which clearly depicts the society’s loss of the sense of appreciation. This is when, after the orphan’s gift of sniffing up lost items was discovered and most people in his community instead of appreciating him began accusing him of being responsible for the loss as a means of gaining unnecessary attention.  A clear example is that of Jenny Sugar whom he went to pick for a date and incidentally helped her mother find her misplaced hairbrush. Instead of Jenny appreciating his efforts, she lashed out at him and even ruined the date for them, a good indication of how the society in this story is suffering from the loss of the sense of appreciation. While at dinner, she said, “You planned all that, didn’t you? …You were trying to impress my mother. Well, you did not impress me.” This event reminded him of how lonely he was and even captures the reader’s attention to see how he has no one to go back home to for consolation or even someone to celebrate his gift. At the thought of such, the reader can appreciate the magnitude of the grief that one goes through after losing his/her loved ones. Such a skeptical reaction from someone who was to be his confidant shows how the young man was lost in his world, without a confidant who would have given him the sense of life, or even celebrate his gift. The manner in which Bender shapes Jenny Sugar in this instance shows the extent to which the people int his society have lost the sense of gratitude.

Aimee Bender also uses a lot of twists in her story using magical elements to push forward its emotional aspect of loss and displacement. But although magic does not qualify to be regarded as a natural element in our daily lives, it has helped to show the link between reality and imagination. This is through fears or phobias, fantasies and even how our expectations collide with reality (Brooks, 2011). It means, therefore that whatever Aimee Bender imagines in her story about the magical gifts of the orphan boy automatically makes up the story’s world. It has helped her to introduce us to a world that is difficult to achieve in the normal life and which would not be possible if she relied on giving out her story as a reality. This is because her story now shifts from being not only about the orphan boy with the unique ability to sense or sniff out and recover misplaced and lost objects but also about things that we cannot easily recover. These things are lost selves and people. An example is where the orphan boy, through his magical abilities, was able to sense the shirt of a kidnapped kid, Leonard Allen, and helped recover him. Bender says, “He turned off his distractions, and the blue shirt came calling from the northwest, like a distant radio station. The young man went walking and walking. And about 14 houses down, he felt the blue shirt shrieking at him.” In reality, we know that this cannot be possible, but in the story’s world, everything is made to be quite advanced to the extent that everything can easily be made clear and believable. Due to his ability, the young orphan boy was also able to understand himself and even the extent of his capabilities despite the criticism from some of his neighbors. From this quote, you can understand that he cannot find lost people, and he can only find objects.

The quote from the story shows the readers that this story is about displacement because the young man could feel the displaced objects and help recover them. Bender says of him thus: “He lay in bed that night with the trees from other places rustling, and he could feel their confusion.” The significance of this statement cannot be emphasized. Although the young man could sense and help recover the lost/displaced items, he could not help bring back the senses of these lost people. Indeed, the loss of a moral sense and appreciation has been brought out very well by Bender, as he has applied mockery to depict how a significant portion of the population viewed the young man.  









Bender, A. Loser.

Brooks, L. (2011). Story engineering: Mastering the 6 core competencies of successful writing. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books.

Maunder, A. (2007). FOF Companion to the British Short Story. New York:

Infobase Pub.



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