“Death In The Woods” Essay

1468 words - 6 pages

Sherwood Anderson’s “Death in the Woods” tells story of the depressing life of an old woman told many years later by a man who narrates the short story. This short story is driven by a plot structure that is told by a sequence of events, a narrator who tells the story, characters, theme, symbolism, and tone.
“Death in the Woods” narrates a sequence of events—the life and death of Mrs. Grimes in its plot structure. This story does not just express the old woman’s tale, but re-tells it. The reader follows the narrator’s mental processes as he intertwines a series of half-remembered, half-fictionalized images, jumping from the old woman’s history to his own. In the first telling of the ...view middle of the document...

The resolution of the short story takes place at the end of the story when the narrator is finished telling his version of the story. He finally realizes the significance of her death and can finally come to terms with the image that haunted him for years.
The point of view and narration is one of the most striking and significant stylistic feature of ‘‘A Death in the Woods.’’ An unnamed man, looking back on an event that occurred in his hometown when he was a young, narrates the story in the first person. The narrator is both an observer and participant in certain events of the story—especially in the discovery of the body—but he makes it clear that the old woman’s tale is closer to fiction than truth. He is a minor character telling the story of the death of this woman. Most of the story he has either heard secondhand or concluded from his own experiences. He initially claims that he has little knowledge of the woman, and he admits that details of the story were picked up slowly, long afterwards from his own experiences, yet as he narrates the story years later, he deems it the real story, which he considers more complete and satisfying than the version his brother told on the night the body was discovered. At first, his qualifications for telling the old woman’s story seem somewhat doubtful with his limited view of events—a fact that he frequently calls to his readers’ attention. He initially describes the old woman only as a type, not an individual, and admits that his sources of information are not particularly reliable. Much of the old woman’s past he recounts based on anecdotes, gossip, and experiences of his own that he later combines with her story. For example, he recalls seeing Jake Grimes at the local livery barn and quotes his dialogue, only to confess, ‘‘He did not say anything, actually. ‘I’d like to bust one of you on the jaw,’ was about what his eyes said. I remember how the look in his eyes made me shiver.’’ The narrator feels a need to understand the woman’s life and death. Eventually, he finds beauty in the completion of the story without the regard to its factual accuracy. The narration of ‘‘Death in the Woods’’ shows how a formative moment in the narrator’s personal experience acquires meaning over time.
The characters in “Death in the Woods” are depicted and developed by the narrator according to the telling of the story. The narrator directly tells you the husband of Mrs. Grimes was a thief and her son is just as much as unpleasant as his father. He directly characterizes them and gives examples of their misbehavior. “Death in the Woods’’ focuses more on the main character, Mrs. Grimes, He chronicles the story of the woman who lives on the outskirts of town. The narrator recounts her history as a bound girl and an abused wife as a background to the. The old woman is the story’s main character, but she remains a somewhat a mystery because her life experiences are filtered through the narrator’s consciousness. Living on...

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