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Intensive Care

This story seems to investigate forces outside the realm of logic that affect people, like the Fata Morgana that “evoke[s] in the viewer a profound sense of longing.” Harold’s life is full of incidences completely grounded in logic, but he encounters some things that are completely inexplicable. Harold grew up normally and boringly. He was a good little boy who grew into a good man, went to college, got married, was promoted several times, bought a nice house, and had three children. In college, Joan did not fall madly in love with Harold, but rather “set out single-mindedly to marry him”. She dutifully fills out magazine quizzes when she comes across them, and keeps the magazines they’re in current and organized on the coffee table. She behaved calmly and reasonably when Harold left her. She has the same haircut and eats the same lunch that she did when she met Harold. Cherry, on the other hand, has led a tumultuous life, rather like the Fata Morgana – “constantly changing, the result of [instability].” Something about that instability evoked enough longing in Harold that he abandoned his respectable life, against the logical advice of his friends, and married her. Smith includes Harold’s encounter with what might be a UFO to show that Cherry’s faith in illogical and inexplicable things, like love, is not entirely misplaced, and she ends the story emphasizing the permanence of Harold’s brush with the sublime.

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