Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day Seventeen: "Docent" by RT Smith


Told in the first person, the narrator is a docent, a volunteer, giving a tour of a chapel associated with General Robert E. Lee. The story reads as one long guided move through the chapel but there are places in the tour that the reader is guided into the docent's mind which appears to be on the verge of senility.

I'm not sure I particularly liked the voice in this story and it was a more difficult read for me than usual but, I did find myself laughing when the old woman volunteer would make "connections" between General Lee and Edgar Allen Poe...imagining that Poe's "Annabel Lee" was in fact a relation of her beloved General. She also points out that General Lee and Poe share a birthday. My favorite line is where the docent, after pointing out the value of General Lee to her great southern state, she says that Poe on the other hands reprsents "the dark side of our Virginia psyche."

In the end, I'm not sure whether the volunteer is actually supposed to be giving tours as she is being asked to leave by a security guard. But that is the author's point I suppose. We are left with mixed feelings of sympathy and awe for this aged volunteer whose ardor for her General Lee is strangely contagious.

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