Divorce is a highly controversial subject in todays society. Parents get divorced a lot more than they used to and this affects the children of the families. The children will have to live between the parents. Constantly having to move from one home to another with a different father or mother in one or more of the homes. The divorces can confuse the children and make them feel guilty like it is their fault, their parents aren’t together anymore.
The children can feel left behind like they are their second priority, and that the parents new partner and new home is their new first priority. Some of these issues the children are facing, are being portrayed in Jennifer Allott’s short story Mid-air from 2014.
The short story Mid-air takes place in a car ride. Alex and his family is driving from Bay to York. The story is split into two parts. We have a part from present time and then further into the story, we are having flashbacks from earlier the same day to weeks before. The story is written with a 3rd person narrator, which follows Alex and gives us his insight of the situation he is going through. The story is build up in a reverse chronology meaning it starts out in present tense and then reverts back in time, giving answers to possible questions the readers may have from the beginning of the story. It then returns to present.
The protagonist of the short story is Alex. Alex is a young boy in the early age of around 6 to 10 years old. His parents recently got divorced. Alex spends most of his day with his sister, father and his father’s new girlfriend. Jennifer Allott gives an indirect characterization of the boy’s attitude towards his father after the divorce through his thoughts. “He just has to live with it, thought Alex, with satisfaction” (ll. 19-20). Alex is satisfied by the fact that his father now has to live with him being annoyed at him, and that his father can’t do much about it. However, Alex is satisfied with how his father will now have to suffer from an annoyed son, he is also sad about the situation of his parents’ divorce. This is shown on line 54-58, where is hiding from reality by hiding in his bed.
Alex does not like Paula and his dad’s relationship. “If he looked at the fly he didn’t have to look at dad holding Paula’s hand” (l. 74)
Alex wants his father to know how much trouble he has caused by divorcing Alex’s mother. This is visible when Alex tells his father “She’s only been doing it since you left”, regarding Rosie wetting her pants.
The title, Mid-air, symbolizes the feeling of insecurity and unsureness Alex is experiencing after his parents got divorced. Jennifer Allot uses “mid-air” in relation to the story of the 1954 bus. The bus flew over the Tower Bridge. Alex couldn’t imagine how the passengers of the bus felt. After his parents’ divorce, he finally thinks he knows how it must feel to be in free fall, not knowing when you’ll hit the ground.
The main theme of the Mid-air, is the negative impacts a divorce can have on the children of the family affected. The author, Jennifer Allot’s message is that the children of divorced families, are the most affected of the family. Most young children don’t understand why their parents divorce, which leads to them blaming themselves or someone else. Mostly one of the parents, or one of the parent’s new partners. In the short story Mid-air, Alex blames his father. According to Alex, his father can no longer see the good things about his mother and blames his father for divorcing her for that reason.