When we hear the title “Crossing” it will give us a feeling of someone who is still crossing something. This is due to the ing-form because this form will always give us a feeling of an uncompleted or unfinished action. The short story “Crossing” is by Mark Slouka who is an American novelist and critic. A relationship between a father and a son is the starting point of the story but it has many other angles too. We live in a post-modern society which means we break a lot of traditional norms and we are beyond the scope of fixed boundaries. Many signs indicate that the main character of this story is a modern man too.
The modern man is a father of a little boy and is divorced with the child’s mum. It seems very clear that he is the reason to their divorce which can be seen in this quotation: “when he looked at her she shook her head and looked away and at that moment he thought, maybe—maybe he could make this right. ” ( P. 2, ll. 19-20). The man is very depressed which is probably because of the divorce. He wants to make it up and he cares a lot about his child which is mentioned in the two following quotations below: “…when the boy came running into the living room he threw him over his shoulder, careful not to hit his head on the corner of the TV…” (P.
2, ll. 16-17) ”It would take a little while, but he’d be able to see him the whole time. ” (P. 3, ll. 44-45) Both of the quotations show us that he is a caring father and this can also be the reason to, why he wants to make it up with his ex-wife. The father wants to pass his childhood memories on to his child and one of them is jaunts to the river with his own father and these jaunts mean a lot to him and it’s why he wants to pass the memories on. When they arrive to the place with the river and the barn he realise that the river is bigger than he has expected. He considers to cancel the jaunt but he says that he has nowhere else to go.
This consideration can be a symbol of that he is in a middle of something in his life which means that he can’t turn back but that he has to look forward. It can probably be in the connection with his relationship. He is in the middle of their problem and he can’t go back in time and make it up but he can look forward and hope for the best. The barn on the other side of the river is described in a very strange way. It is compared to rib cage and skeleton but in between these strange descriptions, the place is also described as a wonderful place with, for instance herds of elk.
During the whole story, we get the feeling of that something really bad is going to happen because of the suspense composition. This composition is only possible with particular settings in the story. Rain, mist, the strange barn and other depressive and strange settings are all sign of that something bad is on its way. At one point the situation gets really bad and the river is about to swallow the man and his child, the river is personified which can be seen in the following quote: ”The river. It wanted to be whole, unbroken.
It wanted him gone. He could see it, forming and re-forming, thick-walled jade, smoothing out its sides with its thumbs like a hypnotized potter. ” (ll. 134-145) The sad mood during the whole story can be a symbol of his life and how he feels when he is alone without his wife. The themes of the story are therefore absolutely loneliness and phase change, because he is about to pass/go into a new phase in his life. All the characters are mentioned as anonym persons, which means nobody in the story has a name.
The characters are therefore not individual persons but they are reduced roles in the man’s life. The narrator of the story knows how the man feels , what he thinks and as reader we see everything from his perspective. This kind of narrator is called third person limited narrator and the man’s point of view. It’s called limited narrator because we are not allowed to hear the boy’s thoughts and feelings. The end of the story is open which means the reader has no idea what is going on and it’s up to the reader to decide which ending the story will match.
This is also the reason for the title “crossing”. As a reader you will not know what is going on after the story ends. Slouka, the author leave the characters in the river in between the secure, the wonderful place and the insecure, dangerous river. This could be the symbol of the man’s life. He has to pass many bad things to get a better life as he has before. The man is a clear sign of a modern man, who is divorced with his wife, he can’t complete his jaunt with his son and he has to fight to get a better life.
Courtney from Study Moose
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