Story Review: Incarnations of Burned Children by David Foster Wallace

  • Category: Literature,
  • Words: 185 Pages: 1
  • Published: 10 April 2021
  • Copied: 132

David Foster Wallace seems to play right into the hand of society’s gender norms, built up by generations of assumptions of the capabilities of women. His portrayal in “Incarnations of Burned Children” leads readers to believe that in the face of danger, women will react by breaking down and succumbing to the stress while men will keep calm and fix what needs to get done: “The Mommy down on one knee with the dishrag dabbing pointlessly at him and matching the screams with cries of her own, hysterical so she was almost frozen…The Daddy moving quickly and well and his man's mind empty of everything but purpose, not yet aware of how smoothly he moved.” Wallace attacks the capabilities of the mother by pointing out the “pointlessness” of her actions to save her child, leading the readers to believe that she is reckless and careless. He wants his audience to have a particular view of her being helpless and in distress while the father is the hero of the situation, saving the child because the mother is not able to. Throughout most of history, women have been portrayed as the weaker gender while male dominance and strength have been highlighted.


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