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Strout, “Security”

“The house she and Henry had built for Chris back home in Maine had been beautiful—filled with light, the windows large to show the lawns, and lilies, and fir trees.”


I remember the first time I had heard of the “Butterfly Effect,” the example demonstrated the effects of a butterfly flapping its wings and how that has caused chaos. It is speculated that when the butterfly flapped its wings it caused the air to move, from a slow gust, to build until it is a hurricane level catastrophe. In return the hurricane would wipe out a society. I feel this is the best way to describe the story of Olive.

All her life she has flapped her wings: aka: her love, her anger, her moods, her opinions, and especially her attitude. The build up of each interaction with Olive has now caused the hurricane that now rocks her world, but like the butterfly, she is still innocent and unaware of what her actions are doing. Olive is frightened and shocked at her discovery that she is being blamed for his misery.

In class we have discussed twists and like Olive, I, too, was blindsided by the son. Henry seemed overly hard on him in the story “the pharmacist.” I took this brief interaction with father and son as the definition of the relationship, while Olive and Christopher appeared to be “thick as thieves.”

It is heart breaking to see Olive grieve and being confused as to what she has done wrong, because she felt she was doing everything she could to give her son a beautiful life. It is also clear that she did this out of love for her son.

What Strout did in this story was bring the story full circle, we are once again introduced to Jim O’Casey, and her reflection on life if she had run away with him. What is truly sad is that the only one who stopped her was the her son. She showed love by thinking of Christopher and how that would have affected him. It is so hard to explain all the complexity of character and emotion that Strout knitted together in this story. How she started with happiness and slowly spiraled it into darkness.

Strout also used this story to help bring us closer to Christopher and his real reasons why he will not move back to Crosby. It also helps the reader see why Christopher seems so distant and even cruel. in Christopher’s eyes it was his mother that was cruel.

2 Responses to “Strout, “Security””

  1. Amber says:

    I love your description of the butterfly effect. You explain your reasoning really well here and I can’t help but to agree with you on most of those points.

  2. vestal14 says:

    I found it hard to explain ALL of the complexity in this story as well, but I needed to blog about it because it was so powerful and evident. “Heartbreaking” is the right word but it is hard for me to be sympathetic towards Olive and believe that she did this out of love for her son. I do think she loves him but I think that Olive is extremely selfish and battles with this so much that she doesn’t even realize that her own selfishness is a problem- which is what I see as heartbreaking.