‘The World In A Bowl Of Soup: A Christmas Story’ by Annie Dillard

Dillard, Annie 1976

The World In A Bowl Of Soup: A Christmas Story by Annie Dillard, 1976

The magic trick:

Inserting a probable reader reaction and desire into the story through a character

Very simple story, this. We begin with a third-person narrator setting the scene. Then, as if Dillard is anticipating the reader’s reaction and hope for the story’s outcome, we meet the host character who verbalizes this probable reaction and hope from his spot in the story on the periphery. Finally, the host and the reader alike are happy to witness this hope fulfilled through another character’s realization. ABC. Very neat and tidy. And that’s quite a trick on Dillard’s part.

The selection:

Now, the host of this feast was a young man of tremendous wealth and power who stood behind a curtain on a balcony above the great hall and watched the guests as they ate and drank at the long table. He thought: “All night long people have been eating as much soup as they wanted and then coming back to the table for more. It is good that they enjoy themselves. But not one person has seen or really understood the excellence of that soup.”

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