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On Bungalows

I’ve seen a lot of houses. I’ve read a lot of stories that mention a house. I have not read many that call these houses “bungalows.” First off, a bungalow has a very distinctive and specific image that goes along with it. The house is one story with a wide front porch and dormer windows. It’s probably small. In my mind, it’s either yellow with white trim or blue with white trim. The imagery this word provides gives a set of very specific details, and with that, an image of the characters that live inside. In both “Dance of the Happy Shades” and “On Ohaeto Street” the images of a bungalow appear. This descriptive detail of the environment offers insight into the old women living in a bungalow in Munro’s story, and allows us to discern similar information for mama’s character in Okparanta’s story.

To me, the bungalow house creates a character who is simple and doesn’t need much to be happy. They don’t have a lot, but that doesn’t bother them in the slightest. Perhaps they have a lot of nick-knacks. They’re the kind of person to have seven photos in their wallet of all of their grandchildren and they’ll gladly show them to you by request. They might have job working at a corner market or they might be someone who’s single and raising a kid alone. But just one, they have to work hard to put the clothes on that kid’s back. They dream of more for that child than what they could ever reasonably attain. They’re good people with a crummy past.

So, why say “bungalow” instead of “house”? Because that one detail shapes the people who live inside.

One Response to “On Bungalows”

  1. Amber says:

    I like that you talk about the house type. It bothered me as well because I kept thinking of wooden bungalows that are high off the ground. Loved that you picked up on that.