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Volume 38, Number 1 (2013)

Death, Animals, and Ethics in David Bergen’s The Time in Between

February 28, 2014


By foregrounding death in the lives of its characters, David Bergen’s The Time in Between speaks to the ways in which lives are valued or devalued and highlights the ethical potential of remembering the dead in the process of living. Particularly through Charles’s suicide note and the fictional narrative of Dang Tho, the novel suggests that storytelling is inextricably linked to remembering; in storytelling, remembering, and reflecting, one is confronted by the limits of one’s ability to know and the humaneness of one’s existence. Judith Butler’s theory of ethical relations and the work of Emmanuel Levinas help to demonstrate that, in inviting comparisons between human and animal deaths, Bergen’s novel explores the frailty and limits of the human condition, particularly the limits of knowing and the struggles involved in having a responsibility toward the Other.