I think what Mary Robison is trying to portray in her short story “I Am Twenty-One” is that life is a complicated concept that one doesn’t always have the capability to steer in the direction they want it to go. Throughout the story there are key situations that can support this idea. In the beginning the narrator expresses determination in getting a good grade is the class, which she demonstrates via her studying and impressive note skills, but in the end is unable to finish her exam before the bell. Another situation, her room and lack of décor which has resulted in it looking like a “bum’s sleepover, like poverty”, shows how she had great plans for the space but life got in the way, preventing her from accomplishing her scholarly dream room. However, what is most striking about this narrator’s life is the turn in which she mentions her parent’s death. It has been two years since the car accident.
Being the author, Robison creates a seamless transition from the past to a brutal present, which throws the reader off quilter, as it was very unexpected. This same characteristic is found in life all the time. I have a feeling that is why she also set up the story line the way she did. The term ‘go with the flow’ was not created on a whim and is also embedded in this story. At the end, the narrator accepts that she has no control over what has happened and starts focusing on tomorrow. She has decided to go with the flow.