Depiction of the Teenage Love in The New Boyfriend, a Short Story in the Book Get in Trouble

August 27, 2021 by Essay Writer

Kelly Link’s “The New Boyfriend” is a short story from her collection, Get in Trouble, which traffics into a teenage territory. The story focuses on a teenage girl, Immy, who is jealous of her good friend, Ainslie. The setting of the story is Ainslie’s birthday party, which is dominated by other teenage girls. The characters have become obsessed with boys and Ainslie’s birthday present, the ghost boyfriend. This story describes the teenagers’ lives and their development in matters love and romance. It accurately depicts conversation between teenagers; longing and jealousy are evident in their conversations. Link uses images of teenage friendship to express themes of romantic love and jealousy in friendship. She also uses literary devices such as imagery and irony to allow her themes to reflect the real world.

First, the friendship between the four girls—Ainslie, Elin, Immy, and Sky—is dramatic. Immy envies Ainslie because Ainslie always gets whatever she desires and has everything that the other girls do not. As such, these girls always compete for Ainslie’s love. At Ainslie’s birthday party, her friends give her presents to show their love for her. Even so, she believes there is no competition between the three girls as to who loves her the most. As a matter of fact, she loves them equally, as evidenced in the text: “It isn’t a competition. Ainslie loves Elin, Immy, and Sky equally, even if Immy and Ainslie have been friends the longest” (Link 134). The love between the four friends is the main theme of this short story. Also, the story plays with vampire conventions and romance, and it is exciting when Link discusses teenage girls making attempts at love for the first time and trying to figure out what to do (Thomas 17). The story is a reflection of a typical group of teenage friends. Ideally, adolescence is the time when girls try certain things for the first time. In this stage, a teenager is likely to be curious. The four girls’ conversations, competition, and actions reflect the typical dynamics of a group of teenaged girls. As such, when the story brings out the theme of love, it comes out as romantic love. For instance, when Immy’s father asks her if she knows what love is, she does not define love as that between her and her parents and friends. She describes it like that between her and a boy: “Sometimes I love my friends … but that’s not the kind of love I mean. I mean love; you know boys … like the love you see in movies and or books” (Link 149). Here, Immy describes romantic love between a girl and a boy. She has not experienced it, but she has seen it in movies and read about it in books. She believes that losing romantic love can make a person want to end his or her life (Williamson 26). She clearly wants to try romantic love for the first time because she has not experienced it, and she believes that romantic love is more than the love she feels for her friends and parents.

Secondly, three of the girls—Elin, Immy, and Sky not only love Ainslie; they are jealous of her because she always gets whatever she wants. For instance, the conversation between the girls shows their outright jealousy of Ainslie. When it is asked why Ainslie always gets what she wants and why she always gets what Immy desires, Sky replies, “They don’t. You can’t get them now. Not unless you are Ainslie, right?” (Link 135). This statement is not only sarcastic. It is filled with jealousy, as well. The girls are jealous of Ainslie because she is the one who always gets the boyfriend that every girl wants and always has what the other girls desire. For example, Link says, “Immy has no idea why she’s in such a horrible mood. Except wait, no. Let’s be honest. She knows. She’s in a horrible mood because she’s a horrible friend who wants everything that belongs to Ainslie. Except maybe Ainslie’s mother. Ainslie can keep her mother” (Link 137). This quote explains how desirable Ainslie’s life is to her friends, specifically, to Immy. The story does not mention specific belongings of Ainslie that her friends want, but if they love her as their friend, they are still jealous of her and desire to have what she has. For instance, Immy wants Ainslie’s ghost boyfriend, but she cannot have him. The jealousy is a manifestation the three girls’ envy for Ainslie. They love her and envy her in equal measure.

Furthermore, the story uses a number of literary devices to illustrate these themes. First, the use of imagery brings out the theme of romantic love between a boy and girl (Galef 157). The story is fictional. The boyfriends are imaginary and are used to explain ideal situations. For instance, Ainslie’s ghost boyfriend is desired by the other girls. Immy tells Ainslie about these boyfriends and has desired one ever since the ghost boyfriends were available for purchase. However, after Ainslie gets a ghost boyfriend as a birthday present, Immy starts to desire the boyfriend Ainslie has. Even so, the boyfriend is imaginary. They call them real names. Sky suggests to Ainslie, “You could call him Vincent” (Link 136). Also, the description of the ghost boyfriend creates an image of a real boyfriend in the mind of the reader. Ainslie describes her ghost boyfriend as having “Eyelids flutter shut. Eyelashes like black fans. Skin just like skin. Even his fingernails are perfect and so real” (Link 137). This description creates the image of a real person in the mind of the reader, even if the ghost boyfriend is not real. Further, the conversation between Immy and Ainslie sounds real when Ainslie says she wants more absinthe. Immy tells Ainslie, “I’ll go get it. If you send a boyfriend off for a bottle of homemade absinthe, likely as not he’ll come back with a bottle of conditioner” (Link 138). Immy refers to Oliver, an imaginary boyfriend, as a real person. Thus, the use of imagery not only helps convey the message of a typical relationship between teenage friends, but it also creates the image of love between a boy and a girl. Ideally, the relationship between a girl and her boyfriend is described as love. When the story uses imagery in the form of ghost boyfriends, the reader is likely to imagine the bond of love that a girl is likely to have with a boy she calls her boyfriend. The message conveyed is that of a typical conversation between teenage girls about their boyfriends. Their conversations referring to the boyfriends are a reflection of the real conversations teenagers have.

Finally, the irony in this story is quite evident. The girls know the boyfriends are fake, as is made clear when Elin says to Immy, “I don’t get it. This Boyfriend thing. They’re creepy. They’re fake. They’re not real” (Link 140). The reader is aware that the girls know the boyfriends are fake, yet the girls still treat them as real boyfriends. For instance, Immy talks to Ainslie’s imaginary boyfriend, Oliver, as though he were a real boyfriend. When he says to her, “I wish you were happy, my love,” she replies by saying, “How can I be happy if you are not?” (Link 138). This conversation sounds like a conversation between a real boyfriend and his girlfriend. Even though they know the boyfriends are ‘fake’ and ‘creepy,’ they still text each other to talk about the boyfriends, which makes part of the story ironic. Also, the girls love Ainslie as their friend and are, at the same time, jealous of her. Thus, this story reflects the development of teenage girls–the way they desire love, get into romantic relationships, and romanticize the things they see in movies and read in books. The story, therefore, tries to envision the ideal relationship between teenage friends who love their peers and are, at the same, time jealous of the most favored member of their peer group.

In conclusion, this analysis is aimed to explain the development of teenage girls—the way girls desire romantic love, and experience jealousy in the real world. In adolescence, teenage girls and boys always want to try new experiences such as finding romantic love. Currently, with the influence of technology, girls and boys have access to online romance books and can watch romantic movies. As such, they always try to imitate what happens in the movies they see and the books they read. Most of them become stuck in the world of imagination like one of the main characters in the story, Immy. Immy tries to experience romantic love with Ainslie’s ghost boyfriend by mimicking aspects of romantic love.(Example) The relationship Immy has with Ainslie’s ghost boyfriend are reflections of relationships a boy has with a girl in the real world. The influence of movies and books has had an impact on the girls, specifically, Immy. Thus, Immy tries to imitate the love she has seen in movies. The theme of love is therefore, conveyed by the relationship Immy has among her friends and the relationship she has with Ainslie’s ghost boyfriend.

Read more