“The Burning House” by Ann Beattie 500 words analysis

For these story analyses, please select different literary theories to analyze.  In other words, to enhance your ability to analyze a variety of theories, apply  a different theory to each of the required stories.  When we are finished discussing literary theory, you will have gained a wealth of experience!

the link for the short story


Check the attachment for the literary theories that you need for the homework!


“The Burning House” is a short story written by Ann Beattie that explores themes of loss, regret, and the passage of time. Through its vivid imagery and introspective narrative, the story delves into the complexities of human relationships and the consequences of our choices.

The story opens with the narrator describing a photograph of a burning house that they received from their ex-husband. This image serves as a metaphor for the destruction of their past relationship and the emotions it elicits. The narrator reflects on the significance of the photograph, pondering whether it represents a warning or a painful reminder.

As the narrative unfolds, Beattie masterfully weaves together past and present, using memories and introspection to illuminate the narrator’s emotional journey. Through a series of vignettes, we catch glimpses of the narrator’s life, their relationship with their ex-husband, and the choices that led to their current state of loneliness and regret.

The burning house symbolizes the destruction of the narrator’s marriage, but it also represents the potential for rebirth and transformation. It becomes a catalyst for introspection, prompting the narrator to examine their choices and the paths they could have taken. The house, engulfed in flames, serves as a reminder of the irreversible nature of time and the inability to change the past.

Throughout the story, Beattie explores the theme of missed opportunities and the lingering effects of past decisions. The narrator’s regrets are palpable, and they are haunted by the choices they made and the paths they did not take. There is a sense of longing for what could have been, as the narrator reflects on the roads not taken and the people they could have loved.

Beattie’s prose is concise yet evocative, painting a vivid picture of the narrator’s emotional landscape. The story is rich with sensory details, from the smell of burning wood to the sound of the fire crackling. These descriptions create a heightened sense of atmosphere and immerse the reader in the narrator’s world.

“The Burning House” is a poignant exploration of human emotions and the complexities of relationships. Through its introspective narrative and powerful symbolism, the story captures the universal experience of grappling with regret and the passage of time. Beattie’s skillful storytelling draws the reader into the narrator’s inner turmoil, leaving them with a profound sense of empathy and reflection.