When looking at a piece as short as “Everything is Green,” the reader knows that not a word is wasted. Wallace is not one to waste words in something a thousand pages long, though, so it stands to the extreme that in something this short, each word is meant to exist and probably means more than what you thought it did the first time you read it.
The piece stands out in the collection due, one, to length, and two, to lexicographical reasons. Someone once told me in my own writing workshop, that when you are writing vocally, that is in the way that a character would speak out loud, but said character is not speaking out loud, you have to be careful not annoy the reader. We are automatically separated from the narrator when we have to decipher what he is saying because it takes us out of the narrative while we try to piece together what we have just read.
Lines like, “And I give you all I got to give you,” and “Every thing that is inside me I have gave you” will stop the reader in their tracks if they aren’t paying complete attention.
There are also distinct pauses in the reader when words like “anything” and “everything” are broken down into “any thing” and “every thing,” as these subtly change the meaning of the phrases. These involuntary pauses in my head while i was reading caused me to pay even closer attention to every tiny word. They are obviously broken apart for a reason, but what is that reason? Does Mitch feel that he has given every thing inside of him to Mayfly, or is this just a part of his lexicographical quirks that we’ve seen before, and he means to say everything. Everything Mitch says feels carefully placed in this conversation with Mayfly, but the way in which he says them don’t give the impression of much thought or expression.
As short as it is, and as different of style as it is, Mayfly’s insistence that everything outside as green, while Mitch is clearly noting that this is not the case, has a lot of similarities to the themes in earlier stories, interior and exterior (sometimes physical and sometimes internal). The rain that is outside has turned everything, perhaps, greener, and it’s cleaned the trailers windows letting the view of the outside in, as well as the sunlight. And while of this exterior is leaking into Mayfly and Mitch’s life, neither of them are able to externalize their interior thoughts. At least not enough that we can see anywhere near what the reader must sense is the root of their problem.
When Mitch can finally, in his own way, articulate well enough what he wants to say to Mayfly, she shuts him down, turning all of her focus to the exterior and wondering aloud how can he possibly have thoughts like that when there is an outside world existing.
This is when it seems that Mitch sees Mayfly as a person. “Mayfly has a body,” he says, seemingly seeing her for the first time(much like this outside, which if the windows were dirty enough before the rain, perhaps Mayfly is also seeing for the first time). “And she is my morning.” She is, now, to him, what the outside world is to Mayfly; finally visible. (“And she is my morning.”)
A few final thoughts that I’ve considered:
1) Why exactly is this piece so short? Could it have been longer? Are there perhaps necessary parts omitted?
2) What is the significance of its appearance immediately preceding the longest piece, or is there one?