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Written by Matt Young
The Ambiguity of Memory
"Peaches" concerns a specific, vivid memory in the mind of the narrator, but an apparent contradiction throws the whole scenario in doubt. The narrator spends the rest of his time sifting through childhood memories in order to reconcile the seeming discrepancies in the memory. He also plays with the idea that he fabricated his memory from himself, pulling elements from several different experiences and tinting it with sentimentality until it looks like a picturesque story. The indefinite qualities of memory pervade his thoughts and make resolution impossible.
"Peaches" also deals extensively with examples of suspicion. The narrator is skeptical of his memories, so he embarks on a mission to discover its true nature. In the course of this retrospection, he remembers several stories regarding suspicion. His mother tells him a story of her distant relative, a young nun in a convent, who was suspected and accused of theft and subsequently committed suicide. It was later discovered that she was innocent. The narrator's father suspects his wife (the narrator's mother) of some kind of offense, and through his memories the narrator begins to suspect his mother of some sort of infidelity in his father's absence.
In "Peaches," there are few memories of the narrator's family that do not involve some sort of conflict or division. His brother, about to leave home, is impatient with his mother for being late with his dinner. His mother tells him a depressing story about a suicidal relative. His father fights with his mother, ignoring her pleas for mercy as he slaps her hand away and orders her out into the night. Even in the memories of his mother comforting him, he is cognizant of the cold isolation of their situation, away from the rest of their family.
The narrator ultimately gives up his quest as futile; the number and variety of corruptions and revisions he could have unwittingly used to manipulate his own memory are too large to allow any kind of definitive solution. Rather than making positive progress, the narrator sees his whole endeavor as worthless: the only thing that emerges from his speculation is "the arcane spectacle of me as a boy, wheeling a pram that holds my infant self."
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