Thesis Exercise Gina Berriault’s “The Stone Boy” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Dangling Conversation” Directions • How does the song, “The Dangling Conversation” by Simon & Garfunkel relate to the community and Arnold in the story? By extension, what kind of statement do both works make about human beings and communication? • Formulate a thesis, based upon one of the models on your “Thesis Statement” handout, in answer to the questions above. Additionally, provide an outline of evidentiary points . . . Example One: Before • In both “The Stone Boy” and “The Dangling Conversation” the lack of intimate and heart-felt communication fails to establish the emphatic link necessary to allow full understanding between the conversationists. Example One: After • In both “The Stone Boy” and “The Dangling Conversation” the lack of intimate and heart-felt communication ultimately results in an inability for the protagonists to establish an emphatic link crucial for them to overcome their retreat into silence and apathy, thus driving them further into a world of isolation and indifference. Example Two: Before • “The Stone Boy” and “The Dangling Conversation” express the feelings of separation from the people they loved and ones who loved them, especially through the lack of conversation. Example Two: After • In “The Stone Boy” and “The Dangling Conversation” protagonists articulate their desperate feelings of isolation from loved ones, especially as evidenced through the ambiguous power of communication or the lack thereof. Example Three: Before • In “The Dangling Conversation” and “The Stone Boy” the characters live in a superficial world, only seeing life as a still-motion picture, yet the extremity of the events in “The Stone Boy” cause us to question the true definition of “superficial.” Example Three: After • In “The Dangling Conversation” and “The Stone Boy” characters live in a superficial world, only perceiving life as a still-life picture, yet the gravity of events in “The Stone Boy” and the unspoken events in “The Dangling Conversation” challenge the reader with superficial notions of communication and intimacy. Example Four: Before • Life is wonderful when all family and friends are together and loving. What happens when one of those best friends is killed? In the midst of life being wonderful a dead friend changes everything and everyone. The community surrounding Arnold in “The Stone Boy” supports the idea in “The Dangling Conversation” that after tragedy happens, people will only go through the motions of life every day, while never being the person. Example Four: After • In the heart of happiness tragedy—or simply day-today existence—changes people, as the “communities” in both “The Stone Boy” and “The Dangling Conversation” prove. That is, these texts demonstrate that in the midst of trauma, or even in the midst of living everyday lives, soulful communication expires and must be redeemed in order for the wounded not to fall into destructive patters of silence, merely chugging through the motions of everyday life. Example Five: Before • “The Dangling Conversation” and “The Stone Boy” both present a world that lacks communication and true understanding and reveals the problem that human beings face when they don’t effectively communicate with one another, whether it be your own son or the person next to you reading a book. Example Five: After • “The Dangling Conversation” and “The Stone Boy” both present a world in which characters lack the ability to communicate, thereby revealing the devastation they face when they resist intimacy— whether it be with a son, a sibling, or a spouse— and ultimately become “couplets out of rhyme.” Example Six: Before • The Stone Boy and The Dangling Conversation both explore the effects of lack of communication in humans, adults, and children. Example Six: After • “The Stone Boy” and “The Dangling Conversation” both explore silence, the lack of relevant communication between their protagonists, ultimately revealing the psychological effects of rejection. Example Seven: Before • “The Stone Boy” and “The Dangling Conversation” both relate fickle heart of humans. They both show how readily a person will ignore the bond they have with someone, turning into a “stranger” over things they have left “dangling” or unspoken. Example Seven: After • “The Stone Boy” and “The Dangling Conversation” both expose the fickle hearts of humans, demonstrating the lengths some will go to ignore previously-established bonds with loved ones, ultimately isolating themselves and others by way of their “dangling” or unspoken conversations. Example Eight: Before • In “The Dangling Conversation” and “The Stone Boy” both discover the idea of what is the power of communication and the question of what is not enough. Example Eight: After • In “The Dangling Conversation” and “The Stone Boy” characters discover the efficacious power of communication when silence, through tragedy or mere superficiality, overpowers them and they retreat into isolation rather than expose their inner thoughts, one to another. Example Nine: Before • “The Stone Boy” by Gina Berriault and “The Dangling Conversation” are very similar. Both stories have conversations that need to be had, but due to the awkwardness and pain surrounding the conversation the characters in both stories hide what they have to say. Ultimately causing more pain and awkwardness for other characters. Example Nine: After • “The Stone Boy” by Gina Berriault and “The Dangling Conversation” both contain characters paralyzed by awkwardness and emotional pain; ultimately, due to their inability to communicate their anguish, they are destined to live in perpetual cycles of loneliness and despair.