Building Blocks (is the ice cream man a protagonist or antagonist…)


Time molds vivid memories from one’s past into the building blocks of one’s writing…



This morning I saw posted on a store window an announcement for a local production of The Zoo Story, by Edward Albee.  Why did the poster catch my attention and give birth to this post?  Referring back to the Building Block subject connect-the-dots, for my acting final in college I used the play, and my early writing was heavily influenced by the ‘theatre of the absurd’; particularly Eugène Ionesco, Harold Pinter, and Edward Albee

Written in 1958, The Zoo Story, is a one act play exploring the themes of isolation, loneliness, miscommunication, social disparity, and dehumanization, through a chance (?) meeting, conversation, and then confrontation between two men sitting on a park bench.  One is a middle-class publishing executive with a wife, two daughters, two cats and two parakeets and the other, an isolated and disheartened man.  Too dig deeper into the interaction, one starts to wonder who exactly is the protagonist and the antagonist; the line becomes blurred, but the playwright’s communicated message evolves into clarity for the audience.

As writers, I wonder if we spend too much time developing very distinct protagonists and antagonists; thus leaving little to mentally challenge the reader.  Of course, we have to consider the reader’s ability to follow the storyline.  Thus, my forgoing question is posed in consideration of the generally accepted definition that the protagonist (from Ancient Greek protagonistes, meaning one who plays the first part, chief actor) is the central or primary personal figure of a narrative, and who ends up in conflict because of the antagonist.

Think back to moments when the two were blurred in your own mind.  Was there a time when you were involved in, or observing, an event where the line was blurred.  Office meetings taking place when the boss is not in attendance come to mind.  One person makes a comment or suggestion, and someone counters, another supports, while another non-verbally exploits through implied neutrality.

And thus was born on this quiet afternoon, 7 August 2013, the following poem:

The Ice Cream Man

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.


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