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Analysis of short story

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Introduction

"55 Miles To The Gas Pump" - Text Analysis The short story "55 Miles To The Gas Pump" by Annie Proulx is from a collection of short stories, the central theme of which is rural life in Wyoming. The story is a short third person narrative centred on the suicide of Rancher Croom and the discovery, by Mrs Croom, of the bodies of the women he murdered, meant to entertain an adult audience as such a sinister plot would be unsuitable for children. The story seems like a spoken account of recent happenings, like a horror story being told in a bar. The style of each sentence, and so paragraph, being a long string of phrases and clauses is also similar to a string of thoughts. The register is informal and conversational and the lexis is similarly unpretentious: "...That walleyed cattleman, stray hairs like curling fiddle string ends, that warm-handed, quick-foot dancer..." Such features add to the story's feeling of being a spoken account between familiar individuals. The structure of the two long sentences is complicated and disorienting: for example, in the first sentence a series of noun phrases in apposition post-modify the proper ...read more.

Middle

Wyoming colloquial expressions are included showing judgments made by the person telling the story: Mr Croom is described as "walleyed", a compound adjective which means having a lazy eye with connotations of lechery, hinting towards the nature of his later-discovered crime. The audience is thus persuaded to the presented opinion and becomes drawn into the story and characters, this making the text more entertaining. The comparison "rises again to the top of the cliff like a cork in a bucket of milk" is what the reader would imagine of a rural expression: buckets of milk are generally found in rural settings and commonplace enough for such an expression to plausibly develop. The setting is consequently always in the foreground and involving the reader. Additionally, comparing the Rancher's body to the cork effectively infers the abrupt motion involved to the reader. The descriptive language has extensive sensory appeal, engaging the reader in the story and so fulfilling the purpose of entertainment: "His own strange beer, yeasty, cloudy, bursting out in garlands of foam" This vivid description of the beer alludes to its attractive appearance as heady and opaque and would appeal greatly to the reader. ...read more.

Conclusion

food made of strips of dried meat, is intrinsically American and the first paragraph setting of the "canyon brink" and the "cattleman" is a common stereotype. This misleadingly suggests the story is conventional. Connotation provides a darker tone: describing the corpses as "used hard" insinuates necrophilia, disgusting to the reader. The concluding sentence carries significant weight, despite being a comparatively short complex sentence. The previous two complex sentences were composed of several more clauses with no immediately clear main clause; by contrast, the final sentence is one subordinate clause and main clause: "When you live a long way out you make your own fun." The reader's attention is consequently drawn to the final sentence. As a declarative, the reader is led to believe that this sentence is true and provides acceptable reason for the unacceptable actions described previously. The second person pronoun "you" suggests not only Mr. and Mrs. Croom would behave in this way, but people in general - even the reader. This is a surprising conclusion which the reader will undoubtedly ponder, continuing to be engrossed by the story even after they have finished reading. (1,144 words) ?? ?? ?? ?? Kathryn Shaw ...read more.

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