Stuck and chained without any tendency of where your life is headed, requires necessary effort to go through. This is the situation for the main character in Wiliam Lychacks short story, Stolpestad. Without any whereabouts of his life directions, Stolpestad come across his own life through unpleasant confrontations of his own identity loss. “This is your life, Stolpestad” Stolpestad finds that his life gone tedious, waiting towards the end of each shift, lying and giving an excuse to postpone his arrival back home to his wife and his children. Driving through the city, Stolpestad yearns after his life in the town as child.
“You idle slow and lawful past the house as if to glimpse someone or something – yourself as a boy, perhaps. ” Though Stolpestad is aware of the requisite in his absence back home, he decides to go to a bar. At the bar he is telling stories, spreading laughter, about his earlier predicament with shooting the suffering dog. Stolpestad seems full of confidence re-telling the story, but in the certain situation he was nervous and sensitive: “with this hope that she’s already dead- that shrill of insects in the heat and grass as you nudge her again.
You push until she comes to life, her eye opening slow and black to you – you with this hope that the boy will be running any moment to you now, hollering for you to stop. ” He wish the dog to already be dead, or that the boy will come hollering him to stop. This nervousness of his comes truly to life when the boy and his father are confronting him, and the surrounding noices frightens him: “It’s only a door opening – but look how jumpy you are”.
Stolpestad finds this confrontation to be a very uncomfortable situations, and feel that it is a repeating element in his life, which is depicted in this paragraph: “the deja vu of a pickup truck in the driveway as you pull around the house, as if you’ve seen or imagined or been through all of this be- fore, or will be through it all again, over and over”. We can interpret this, from the fact that Stolpestad keeps running into these unpleasant situations. Putting down a suffering dog turns into an unintentional disservice to the dying dog, the boy and his father and himself.
The unsuccessful execution and the survival of the suffering dog, Goliath, can be seen as a metaphor for Stolpestads life. The life of the dog Goliath and Stolpestads life are heading in the same direction, Goliaths suffering is a reflection of the suffering in Stolpestads own life. Gully is gravely injured and it is just a matter of time until its’ life will peg out, but even after what was supposed to be an easy put down, the dog remains alive. Stolpestad is neither injured or near death.
Stolpestad is caught between the choices whether he shall pursue his meaning of life or leave this world behind. He is stuck as a spectator of his own life, as the dying dog Goliath is a spectator of its’ own death. The injury of the dog can also be interpreted as a simile for the environment and the town Stolpestad lives in. The Christian narrative of “David and Goliath” deals for Goliaths sake with the themes negativity and failure. The nickname “Gully” is a synonym for a sewer. That means, that the dogs name in both significances refers to something including degradation and poor environs.
Goliath lies on all the trash on the families within the families’ premises and symbolizes the poor social environment that the family hails from. The family is tamped by this inadequacy in the society, which the dog and its name symbolize. The sentence: “The old tires, empty bottles, paint cans, rusty car axle, refrigerator door” exemplifies what poor environment the family is a part of. The environment of the father may also explain the cause of his ironical compliments of Stolpestads house: “He lets out a long sigh and says it’s a fine place you seem to have here”.
Still this higher league of society does not fit Stolpestad, and it does not seem like he has been in this contrast to the lower league of society his whole life, which also may cause the sympathy he has for the boy. The boy can be interpreted as an illusion of Stolpestad as a child. In the early beginning of the short story, Stolpestad is driving around soulless, looking for something – possibly himself as a child, and after the meeting with the boy, he quickly conceives comprehension of his life situation.
This may be caused of Stolpestads own youth, that may have been difficult, but he still may miss: “Back to all the turns you were born, your whole life spent along the same sad streets” The kind of narrator being used in the story is a “second person narrator” who writes to a certain “you”. Our “you”, who our narrator directs itself to is the main character of the story, Stolpestad. Though it is Stolpestad the narrator direct itself to, the reader feels like being spoken to, when this narrative perspective is being used: ”Was toward the end of your shift”.
This way a text involves and affects its reader in a whole other level. It is hard to judge whether the narrator is an actual figure or totally absent throughout the story. The narrator does not specifically appear throughout the story, but certain things point to the narrators’ appearance: ”away we go”. Still it is doubtful and unknown, who the narrator may be, as the short story does not give an unequivocal explanation of who the narrator might be. The language is both embossed of slang and then the more literary metaphorical descriptions.
This shows, how the narrator has authority of changing the style when it fits him. Therefore it is a mixture of the lower style and a formal literary style. Stolpestad is living a life that just passes by, without him taking any action, and therefore he feels like his whole life just consists of continuous repetitions. He is living in the same surroundings as he did in his youth and during his childhood so therefore his external rams haven’t changed, though he has become older. Therefore everything feels recognizable and boring for him.
With the description from a second person narrator, who sees Stolpestad from an external perspective, we can connect this to the interpretation of him as a passive individual. He is not even in possession of the authority to tell his own story, but is having it told by another narrator interfering and judging him negatively. Here as well he stands without influence, but may passively let the narrator relate his story, while he himself will have to be a spectator to his own life. So do not just let life pass you by.
Courtney from Study Moose
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