The Genial Genie and the Mere Mortal – A Short Story

The genial Genie:

The genial Genie had a very good life. He liked snoozing in his lamp which was like a haven to him. Plug the mouth and what did you have inside? No sound, no light – an ideal environment for catching your forty winks and more. And if you had the power to make yourself so small that you could make this your home, then what more could anyone,genial or not, ask for? Just like many of us the genial Genie had a comfy bed which unlike for us could be ordered to make itself, roll out or roll in. If his back hurt that day a little more, he could make the bed firmer and if he wanted to luxuriate then you guessed it, he could make the mattress softer. He was the master of his small world and no wonder he was a genial character. He had nothing to be not genial about.

Until unfortunately for our Genial Genie, the mere Moral came into the picture. The mere Moral being a curious creature like many of her counterparts could not contain her curiosity when she stumbled upon the golden lamp as she trekked through the thickest forest on the highest mountain. The genial Genie had assumed that if he hid himself beneath the densest bush underneath the oldest tree of the thickest forest on the highest mountain, there was little chance of anyone disturbing the peaceful little world he had built up with such care using his magical powers generously. But he had underestimated the power of mere Mortals. The power that granted them the ability to uncover the darkest of secrets, scale the highest of mountains and of course trek through the thickest forest and find the oldest tree in there to click a picture of to be shown off to other mere Mortals who did not have the time or the inclination or the stupidity to embark on such travels. It was one such mere mortal who while taking the prized photo managed to stumble over a root or such object and fell headlong into the bush disturbing our genial Genie’s slumber.

The Genie being the genial Genie that he was thought it was a minor disturbance brought about by some animal or bird the former grazing or the latter resting on the bush’s branches. So he turned and went to sleep again. He was not a fussy sleeper. He was snoring the next minute little knowing that the bumbling and tumbling mere mortal was right now examining his abode with 100% of his already high curiosity level. The first thought that hit the mere mortal was that it must be highly valuable. What if it was made of pure gold? It weighed pretty heavy and the workmanship was of the highest quality. But it was pretty dusty and the mere mortal was assuaged suddenly by doubts on the purity of the material used for the lamp’s manufacture. So to set his doubting mind to rest, the mere mortal started rubbing on the surface of the lamp.

I am sure none of you have lived inside a lamp, so you would not quite know the effect of someone vigorously rubbing on the surface, but since the genial Genie was in such a position, he knew instantly. The grating noise reached his ears. He was wide awake now. A panic attack seized him. Gone was the geniality. What remained was stark terror! The grating noise continued to gain horrendous proportions as the mere mortal excited by how brightly he was able to make the thing shine went on to attack it with much more vigor than was required. That is another one of those inherent characteristics of these mere mortals. A case of hyper activity seizes them whenever they are doing something that gets them the expected results especially if it involves making money or spreading their fame.

There was no mistaking it, the genial Genie thought to himself. Duty Beckons! He looked around. The room done in shades of orange and blue after he had peeped out of his hole when the sun was setting and was awed by the beauty of the sky with all its colors of orange, blue and red intermingled. He hurried out of the hole with his hands in his ears whose ear-drums might have been permanently damaged if he had not got out of his abode when he did!

So out he came as fast as he could with a huge whoosh! sound as he grew to his normal size. This was the favorite part of his duty when he would get out of that thing and show the mere mortals what a powerful creature he was, almost giving them a heart-attack in the process. But one gotta hand it to them, he thought considering they would recover pretty well and the first question would be

“Do I get my three wishes?”. So out he came, in all his glory hoping his huge frame would give the mere mortal a fatal heart attack for once. But mere mortals who climb the highest mountains and trek the deepest forests to find the oldest trees are not faint hearted as you can imagine. And that was the case. Though the mere mortal stumbled once again and his eyes almost popped out, to his credit he handled it pretty well.

It is after all not everyday that you see a genial Genie, who by the way you are not even sure is genial, pop out of a lamp though you have been told umpteen stories about it. Fairy tales are hard to believe, aren’t they? Especially for mere mortals like you and me. And since the mere mortal belongs to our species too, he did not particularly believe in them fairy tales too. Not until that particular moment that is. If a 10-ft orange and blue hued genie is standing in front of you, with a not very pleasant look on its face after emerging from a teeny-weeny lamp that you had been polishing, you have no option but to believe in all those stories. So the mere mortal, having stumbled down to the ground yet again, looked at the genial Genie with a mixture of emotions.

The genial Genie also looked at the mere mortal with a mixture of emotions, though the emotions mixtures differed in quality and quantity from the mixtures that the mere mortal’s mixed emotions comprised of.

“Well?” said the genial Genie tapping his leg, feeling as you can imagine not very genial about the whole situation.

“Well what?” said the mere mortal trying to muster whatever dignity she could muster while trying to stand up.

“What do you want?” the genial Genie asked impatiently.

“Well there are a lots of things I want… ” she said.

“Well you are gonna get only 3 of them..” the genie said.

“Screw you” the mere mortal answered.

“Is that a wish?” the genial Genie asked.

“It is tempting… ” she said.

“So… out with them..” the genial Genie said, hoping against hope that this little woman would wish fast and he could have some hope pf salvaging his beauty sleep.

If only he knew how hard it was to ask a mere mortal to limit her unlimited wants to 3!

The genial Genie just hoped that this time the situation was not similar to what had happened when some not so bright mere mortals were involved in the equation. He hoped this mere mortals unlike some of her illustrious predecessors. The I-want-to-be-the-messiah’s of the world with either World Peace or No one should go hungry being the top of their lists. Did they even have a clue as to what they were asking for? Even God seemed to have thrown in the towel over that one, so what could a genial Genie do? And oh! The tantrums they would throw when the Genie would try to explain to them with all his geniality that it was not a possible thing for him to end world hunger, bring world peace and end suffering.

One started to shoot, one started to cry and one hurled the choicest abuses at him. Hastily he shifted his thoughts to the other kind. The vengeful ones – I want my mother-in-law dead, no wait, make that all my in-laws, or I want my boss, no make that all my superiors, dead! Again the genie would explain very genially that he did not control death. Once again the bullets, the abuses and the wails would rush out. The genial Genie shuddered. No wonder he had sought this godforsaken place to hide. The genie suddenly did not feel genial at all towards the mere mortal who had sought him out of what till then he had considered to be the perfect hiding place.

It was with this expression that the mere mortal, who had been occupied with her thoughts all the while that the genial Genie had been reliving his past tragic moments of his interaction with other mere mortals, caught the genial Genie looking.

“What’s wrong?” the mere mortal asked with a dash of ice. Lots of it. She had the power and she knew it!

“What do you mean?” the genial Genie countered trying to replace the menacing expression with some geniality.

“You don’t seem too happy about this situation… ”

“Well I am not!”

“Hmm… is that allowed?”

“What do you mean is that allowed?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be all genial and falling at my feet with I am here to serve you mistress!”

“I grant you three wishes. Everything else is up to me… “, the not-so-genial anymore Genie answered.

“and what is the time frame for these wishes to be granted?”

The genial Genie balked. Now that was a question none of the mere mortals had asked him ever. Somehow he had been able to convey with his rush to the mere mortals that they had to wish and wish fast!

“Hmm… err..” the genial Genie hee hawed!

“ah-ha! I knew it. There is no time limit. How sweet is that?” the mere mortal roared with laughter discovering the full extent of her power.

The genial Genie wished he had the power to choke life out of a person, breath by breath, second by second. He could have used that power, right then, right there! But alas! He did not. So he just stood there morosely as if he had stubbed his toe and he had no one to blame for it but himself.

The mere mortal meanwhile dismissed the genie, packed the lamp neatly into her backpack and continued her trek. The poor genie was in a very bad state. He tried to go back to sleep, but the continuous swish-swoosh of the mere mortal’s boots accompanied by the constant threat of being summoned any time did not let him rest in peace. And so the genial Genie remained, trapped in his own heaven. In shades of red, orange and blue!

The mere mortal meanwhile was feeling things in direct contrast to what the genial Genie was going through. Though these feelings were marred by the constant confusion in mind. What to wish for? More importantly. When to wish for them? What if today she felt that this is what she wanted more than anything else and if tomorrow changed that? After all didn’t wishes change all the time? Would she able to forgive herself if she made a wrong wish? How uncool would that be? To be granted anything and to wish for the wrong thing. She swallowed hard. This was not easy and something told her it was not good either. What if people around her came to know of her power? Considering that she could not hold secrets for long, she was bound to slip. Then what? Surely an expectation to set things straight in their lives. Who would she choose? And who would she ignore? Surely she was going to make more enemies than friends? Boy! Oh! Boy..this 3 wishes thing might not be so good after all. She sat down exhausted.

Just as the genial Genie was drifting to a restless slumber came the thud. Looked like the mere mortal had stopped moving. He could hear some heavy breathing. This might be his chance to pounce on her. She might have run out of water or something. Wish #1, Wish #1 the genial Genie’s mind raced with the thought. He came out with a whoosh – all genial this time around.

“Ahem.! he said.

“oh! hi..” the mere mortal acknowledged listlessly.

“Want something?”

“Yes… ”

“Well wish for it… ”

“Peace” she replied.

“uh-oh! Not world peace I hope!” the genial Genie said rolling his eyes!

“No. I am not that selfless. Peace for myself… ” she said.

“Well no problem there. That I can do… ” the genial Genie steadied himself.

“What are you doing?” the mere mortal demanded.

“Well bringing peace into your life, excuse me” the genial Genie answered exasperatedly.

“and how do you plan to do that?”

“Well I don’t know. That is upto the God above. I just influence him with my power.”

“and how exactly do you do that?”

“Well for example, there is someone in your life who is not letting you live in peace. Now that person is somehow going to disappear from your life… ”

“WHAT?” the mere mortal cried out.

“oh please! Not so loudly. I have a weak heart you know! I am used to living in complete silence. Please!” the genie pleaded.

“I am sorry. So you mean to say that you are going to eliminate this person from my life”

“Person or Persons!” the genial Genie answered proud of his power suddenly. It was always a pleasure to watch mere mortals be awed by his power.

“NOOOOO” the mere mortal screamed louder!

“Why… what… ” the genial Genie almost passed out.

“I am sorry but that is not what I want… ” the mere mortal trailed off.

“Well what is that you want woman?” This was not going good at all, the genial Genie thought.

“If I knew what I wanted I would not be trekking in the deepest forest of the highest mountain now, would I?” the mere mortal answered. She had a point there, the genial Genie thought.

“How about happiness?”

“Well it works the same way – eliminate the people and situations that make you unhappy… ”

“Success? Power?”

“The president of your country suits you?” The mere mortal gulped. No, it did not suit her!

“Money?”

“Sure”

“How?”

“Create ways for you. Like rob a bank, have a rich man’s dog bite you, or steal a winning lottery ticket or something..”

“ugh!”

“Hey you only wish. How to carry out the wish is my prerogative” the genial Genie warned.

“Can I pass?” the mere mortal asked.

Writing Essays – New View in Joyce’s Short Story, Clay

James Joyce’s famous short story, “Clay,” was published in 1914 in his collection of short stories titled, Dubliners.

Like literally every other short story ever published, “Clay” makes a strong old view value statement early on and then shows a new view reversal of that old view at the end. Let me demonstrate a three-step method that helps you analyze any short story using those concepts and that will help you get started writing literary essays:

#1- EARLY ON, STRONG STATEMENT: At the beginning of a short story, a strong value statement, an old view, is given by or about the main character, asserting an evaluation or describing some characteristic, goal, or desire.

The very first sentence identifies a goal or desire of the main character:

The matron had given her leave to go out as soon as the women’s tea was over and Maria looked forward to her evening out.

In the description of Maria’s getting ready to go out for the evening, as she’s preparing and serving tea for the women of the Dublin by Lamplight laundry, two strong old view value statements are made about two important characteristics of Maria,

  • Maria, you are a veritable peace-maker!
  • Mamma is mamma but Maria is my proper mother.

Because of the strength of the first old view value statement, we are given expectations of finding out how Maria was a strong-willed, clever, resourceful peace-maker, one who could bring peace to any troubled situation. And we expect from the second one to find out how she was Joe’s proper mother in all the idealistic ways that the phrase suggests.

#2-IN MIDDLE, SUPPORTING/UNDERCUTTING: In the middle of a short story, the old view is supported or undercut with descriptions, conflicts, and resolutions that set up the new view at the end.

DESCRIPTION: Many descriptions occur throughout the story that undercut the old views, so we’ll have to zero in on those with the clearest impact on the old view – new view relationship in the story.

In the beginning of the story, there’s a mixture of short descriptions of Maria’s character, her past, her plan for her trip to Joe’s house that evening, her relationship to Joe and Alphy as their nursing maid and nanny, how Joe and Alphy got Maria her the job at the laundry, Joe and Alphy’s presently strained relationship, the happenings at tea time, and Maria’s thoughts while dressing to get ready for her evening out.

During the tea-time meal, Lizzie Fleming said Maria was sure to get the ring and, though Fleming had said that for so many Hallow Eves, Maria had to laugh and say she didn’t want any ring or man either; and when she laughed her grey-green eyes sparkled with disappointed shyness and the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin.

Since Lizzie had said, Maria was sure to get the ring… for so many Hallow Eves, it is plain that Lizzie had long wanted for Maria to get the ring, get a man, and get married. So did Maria. Though Maria says she didn’t want any ring or man either, her laughing with disappointed shyness says otherwise. She always wanted to be a proper mother, to raise her own family, but she never quite got the chance of getting married, which would have made that possible.

And what’s up with the description of Maria’s laughing and the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin, which occurs again two sentences later, as well as at Joe’s house, when she’s being blindfolded to play another fortunetelling game? It must be important, though it’s not clear how. Maybe it just emphasizes her disappointed shyness about her relationships with men and her feelings about wanting to get married.

Right after Lizzie Fleming’s prediction, Then Ginger Mooney lifted her mug of tea and proposed Maria’s health while all the other women clattered with their mugs on the table, and said she was sorry she hadn’t a sup of porter to drink it in.

This description is important to bear in mind at the end of the story. I’ll bring it up in my discussion about the story’s ending, later.

CONFLICT: In the beginning, it was clear that Maria was always sent for when the women quarreled.

RESOLUTION: Why? Because she talked always soothingly: ‘Yes, my dear,’ and No, my dear.’ It was Maria’s soothing niceness, her way of passive peacemaking, which always resolved conflicts at the Dublin by Lamplight, not any cleverness of persuasion or strength of personality that earned her the status of veritable peace-maker.

CONFLICT: In the middle of the story, when Maria went to a downtown pastry shop on Henry Street, the stylish young lady behind the counter, who was evidently a little annoyed by her, asked her was it wedding-cake she wanted to buy. That made Maria blush and smile at the young lady; but the young lady took it all very seriously.

RESOLUTION: Maria’s solution to the little conflict-she blushed and smiled. Her soothing didn’t really solve the conflict, but it did smooth it over. More passive niceness.

CONFLICT: Near the end of the story, the girls couldn’t find a nutcracker for Maria and Joe got upset about it.

RESOLUTION: Maria nicely said she didn’t like nuts and they weren’t to bother about her. Again, passive soothing, not solving.

CONFLICT: When Joe and his wife tried to push beer and wine on her, Maria tried to refuse.

RESOLUTION: … but Joe insisted. So Maria let him have his way.

Once again, Maria solved a conflict by being nice and passively giving in to others, just smoothing things over.

CONFLICT: Maria thought she would put in a good word for Alphy. But Joe cried that God might strike him stone dead if ever he spoke a word to his brother again.

RESOLUTION: Instead of being a proper mother and a peace-maker with her ‘children,’ Joe and Alphy, Maria said she was sorry she had mentioned the matter. As she noted earlier in thinking about the Joe-Alphy conflict, but such was life, and Maria certainly was too passive and not peace-maker enough to resolve the situation.

#3-AT END, A NEW VIEW REVERSAL. At the end of a short story, a new view reverse of the old view is usually revealed.

When Maria gets to Joe’s, there’s another Irish fortune-telling game (called Puicíní: “poocheeny”). In the game, a blindfolded person is seated in front of a table on which several saucers are placed. The saucers are shuffled, and the blindfolded, seated person then chooses one by touch. The contents of the chosen saucer supposedly foretell the person’s life during the following year: water meant travel, a prayer book meant the priesthood or a nunnery, and a ring meant marriage.

In being blindfolded to play this game, Maria laughed and laughed again till the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin-more evidence of the disappointed shyness we saw earlier. At first, her hand touched a soft wet substance with her fingers… Somebody said something about the garden… Mrs. Donnelly said… that was no play… Maria understood that it was wrong that time and so she had to do it over again: and this time she got the prayer-book.

As just one happening of the evening, just a game, the incident seems innocent enough. But what is soft and wet and comes from the garden? Clay, which is the title of the story. And clay is soft and passive and moldable by whatever pressures it. Doesn’t that describe Maria?

Where’s the strong veritable peace-maker or the proper mother who molds others, who directs and guides and blesses her children through thick and thin? This incident is a strong undercutting of those old views and reminds us of her indecision in buying cakes downtown and chatting with the stout gentleman on the tram, where all she could do was favor him with demure nods and hems.

And she gets the prayerbook in the game, not the ring. That’s appropriate for Maria because, as Joyce shows us time and again, she truly can’t handle much of anything else.

The strongest suggestion of Maria never getting a man and never, therefore, having the chance to be a proper mother, is when she sings a song at Joe’s request at the very end. The song brings to mind Maria’s life compared to the life of the woman whose words she is singing. The song was, “I Dreamed that I Dwelt,” and two lines in the song remind us of the women at tea time: And of all who assembled within those walls, That I was the hope and the pride.

You’ll recall that at tea time Ginger Mooney lifted her mug of tea and proposed Maria’s health while all the other women clattered with their mugs on the table.

That kind of clattering with their mugs on the table is probably also very like how those in the song would express That I was the hope and the pride, when they assembled within those walls. Where else would they assemble to express such hope and pride except in a banquet hall? Feasts and banquets would be the natural setting, and the rich feasters would, no doubt, toast the rich woman Of a high ancestral name with clattering and banging their mugs on the table, just as the poor, unwed mothers of the laundry did at tea time for their nice, poor friend, Maria.

The song was about a woman with riches and a high ancestral name. And the woman in the song felt That you loved me still the same, referring to some rich man, no doubt. Of course, that was the exact opposite or reverse of practically penniless Maria, who, blushing very much as she began singing, was very much aware that she was very poor, worked in a laundry for unwed mothers, and couldn’t even handle a common conversation with a common man on a tram without losing her wits and her plum cake.

At the story’s end, Joyce suggests once again that Maria is, in fact, the new view reverse of a strong-willed peace-maker with persuasive powers for solving conflicts, which the women of the laundry believed she was. As to being my proper mother, Maria’s letting Joe manipulate her so many times-past and present-actually show that she had not even been a strong substitute mother, let alone a “proper mother.”

The fact is, Maria’s entire character-as developed more fully in the middle and end of the story-is the new view reverse of the two strong character descriptions given at the beginning. Maria is actually as weak and passive and moldable and non-propagating (not giving of life, as a proper mother would be) as the title of the story suggests: She was lifeless, passive, moldable clay. Perfect fit.

Based on our discussion, here are some sample thesis statements to give you a few ideas for writing a strong essay on Joyce’s short story, “Clay:”

  • Joyce’s story “Clay” shows us the theme that, ‘Anyone who gives up too many personal choices to others can become sterile, unproductive, and incapable of controlling their own lives.’
  • Joyce shows with Maria in his story “Clay” that society may think we are one way, when we are, ironically, exactly the opposite.
  • James Joyce’s “Clay” provides ample evidence in little conflicts throughout the story that Maria lacks the strength others think she has as a peace-maker and a proper mother, especially at the end.
  • The short story “Clay,” by James Joyce, uses imagery in descriptions at the beginning, middle, and end to hint of Maria’s true character of weak, moldable clay, not strength.
  • “Clay” by James Joyce uses symbolism in the story’s title, in the holiday games, and in the song at the end to show that Maria is weak, not strong, and that she’s not what she’s labeled as being by her friends.

How the Wisdom of God Alone Can Sustain Us – Short Story

Alpha the rugged ship was taking a tour of the seas.

He dreamt of sailing into pirated lands full of wonder, danger and challenge.

He dreamt of saving people from flaming volcanoes, and wrecked out on shore crying S.O.S.

He was a freak wannabe, a lover of games and fun

He loved the people as they rested under the sun.

The rough seas were his lifeline, he trusted them to sail on

Winds or turbulence or hailstorm, he was all too sure to go on.

A novice though in life, he feared no harm would ever touch him.

He was built real tough, strong and hardy

And not one could match his punk

The day he sailed the first time was a cool one

But the day was getting filled with troubles one-by-one

The water loomed, they lashed, they furled

Alpha braved on, he wouldn’t bat an eyelid

His confidence only stood up, oh this was a real boon

He was fit as a tambourine, to drum the finest tune.

I’m so ravishing, an eagle would be my only match

I have eyes so sharp for combat, to see the enemy afar

My sails are sturdy to take me a million miles

I wonder if I were an eagle, I would reach the ancient stars

My charisma is unparalleled, I love to rant and rave

Show me if you can even come as close

But an eagle came close to the sails,

And rent it in two…

Alpha panicked, he wasn’t hoping for that

He travelled on as fast as he could

But could not go much ahead

His sails could no longer

Keep him sailing on

Oh what doom, he didn’t need a raging storm

Only placid waters and a destiny

To show him the place he feared.

Oh what pity a giant ship like Alpha

Was pulled out of sea by a bird

Even the mighty come down to tatters

Even the swift and the smooth come to loss

The main thing is always wisdom

It will be the answer to all doom

Alpha would have mattered

If he’d used a crew to guard him

He relied instead on his strength

His power and poise and avarice

Couldn’t withstand the test

His motives weren’t lofty or noble

He was just prideful and ignoble.

So little children, be wary

Be wise and be cheery

Be sure to make wisdom your friend

And you will be quick and fast to zoom

Hedged in and well-protected from doom!