Study Questions for "Pretending"

As we do with all of our stories, we will begin our discussion by identifying the setting and the style of narration, then move on to narrative structure, plot, conflict and a discussion of the extent to which the story fits our developing definition of slipstream fiction.

"Pretending" [2001] by Ray Vukcevich

  1. How does the characterization of Marilyn in the story's first two pages prepare us for Stuart's actions later in the story?
  2. Given that the story is focalized through Stuart, are we able to determine, through the presented details in the story, whether or not Stuart planned his action against Marilyn from the very beginning? Does the third person narrator provide us with enough information to understand Stuart's full motives in picking the silo for their holiday celebration and posing "an exercise in creative belief" [68] for their party?
  3. How does the title, "Pretending," direct our attention to issues of value and belief? Who is pretending? How is the attempt by these characters to "believe the unbelievable" [69] a comment on particular belief systems in our culture?
  4. At the end of the story, what is the specific relationship between Stuart and Marilyn? Who is pretending now?