Response – Game

Reading: “Game” by Donald Barthelme

Impressions: The story reminds me of the political scenarios in the 80’s when the old Soviet Union existed. The threat of nuclear war was real and always hanging around. At first I thought that the story was being told by a child, but later I realized that this was supposed to be the voice of an adult man. It seems they’ve been reduced to the mentality of the children in the Lord of the Flies book.


The repetition of thoughts and phrases and the rhythm of the language used by the narrator gave me the impression of monotony and boredom. Not much had changed in the 133 days of their assignment, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

Question(s): Have they been forgotten? Or is there no one left to let them know to stand down? Why no communication with anyone outside of the bunker?

Our narrator describes natural forms in order to pass the time. I’m not sure that I understand this preoccupation unless he is a biologist by trade. And, I’m not sure I understand the “overtures.” Does Shotwell want to make the “bird” fly? They are both exhibiting strange behavior.

I also noticed that in the early part of the story, the narrator uses the word “behavior” and then later uses the British spelling, “behaviour.” My first assumption was that it was a typo, but then I saw it more than once. If it is not a typo, its meaning was not clear to me.

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