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In The Fall, By Alistair Macleod

1632 words - 7 pages

A misconception that we often have about family is that every member is treated equally. This fallacy is substantially portrayed in Alistair Macleod’s short story, “In The Fall”. Typically speaking, in a family, the Mother is the backbone for kindness and provides love and support with no unfair judgements. However, when we relate to the portrait of the Mother in Macleod’s short story, we perceive the portrait as a self-centered woman whose affection is only shown upon what interests her. The Mother’s unsympathetic persona is apparent throughout the story as she criticizes all that holds sentimental value to her husband and children.

The Mother is among a family of four who lives on a small farm and takes immense pride in what interests her, however her passion does not particularly lie in her two children; James and David; nor in her husband and their interests; but instead lies within her chickens. Though chickens bring the most joy to the Mother, they are not the sole animals that live on the farm. The animal that draws the most interest from the father, James and David is their horse, Scott. At a young age, Scott was used as a working mule for the family and grew up alongside the Father and two Sons. To the father, Scott was like one of his own sons, and to James and David, Scott was like their brother; but according to the Mother, “He’s been worthless these last few years”(Macleod, 267). Ever since Scott was young, he was a burden on the Mother’s lifestyle; she never took a liking to the horse even when he served as a source of profit for the family. The Mother had never appreciated the sentimental value that Scott possessed because he had never been a particular interest to her. Once Scott had aged and was no longer able to do the physical labor that was a required standard for the Mother, she proclaimed that we’d “just have to sell him.” (Macleod, 266) The Mother never considered the feelings of those who surrounded her and therefore showed no sympathy. With never having understood the sentimental value that Scott meant to the Mother’s husband and two children, she often ranted about how “old and useless” (Macleod, 268) he was. She never accepted the fact her husband and two sons valued Scott as family and their only objective was for him to be treated as a member. At no time did the Mother view Scott as family; he was simply an annoyance. Since Scott didn’t draw attention from the Mother, she often criticized the exterior of him rather than seeing the interior; which was where the heart of her husband and children lied.

Since the Mother never honored Scott into the family, he was never treated equally. The Mother was only focused on her needs and the needs of her chickens. Just the presence of Scott initiated the Mother’s tirades; and they were generally directed towards her husband. The Mother would say, “I wanted to get it over with while you’re still here. Next thing you know, you’ll be gone and I’ll be stuck with him for...

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