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Ralph The Duck Essay

1638 words - 7 pages

PAGE Wilson PAGE 1
R e n e w a lVomit. It's neither pretty to see nor pretty to clean up. "Ralph the Duck" begins with the retching sound of the narrator's golden retriever being sick on the carpet . As the narrator, who goes unnamed throughout the whole story, "carries seventy-five pounds of heaving golden retriever to the door and pours him onto the silver, moonlit snow" (1), he thinks to himself, "He loved what made him sick" (2). We learn the dog vomits because he has been eating the rotting carcass of a deer, which he continues to go back to, night after night. Through the dog we see the correlation to the narrator's current destructive lifestyle.Like the dog, the narrator shows an apparent lack of concern for his own health. He seems to have little energy, most likely due to the fact that he doesn't sleep well. Several times throughout the story he consumes large amounts of alcohol. He has a "king-sized drink composed of sourmash whiskey and ice" (10) with dinner, while driving at work he has a thermos of sourmash and hot coffee and one morning he starts on a wet breakfast. This would symbolize the fact that the narrator is imposing his condition upon himself. He is bored with his life, bored in his marriage and bored with his job. After the death of his infant daughter he seems to feel no joy in life. Frederick Busch writes "Ralph the Duck", to explore how a man numbed by the pain of having a child die and a crumbling marriage can still experience a renewal of self-worth through his heroic actions in saving the life of a suicidal girl. This act helps him lose his feeling of helplessness and despair he has held onto since seeing his own child die and not being able to save her.His relationship with his wife, Fanny, is strained. They both seem to be going through the motions of day-to-day living and are emotionally numb in the aftermath of the sudden death of their infant daughter. Fanny reminds him of what he used to be. More specifically, when he sees and talks to Fanny, the narrator remembers his daughter and the life he had before her death. A life that was filled with joy for both himself, his wife, as well as their young daughter. They were so in love with their daughter and thrilled to be parents. This would explain why, after the death, he is so distant when speaking to his wife- when he does speak to her at all. She sleeps on the couch one night and the next morning he thinks "she will forgive me if I hadn't been too awful - I didn't think I'd been that bad" (2). The narrator even falls asleep on a date to the movies with Fanny. He reflects, "I fell asleep, and I'm afraid I snored" (45).Still, Fanny respects him for taking college classes at night. Working at the college as a security officer gives the narrator the fringe benefits of being able to attend one class per semester free of charge. He calls himself the "oldest college student in America" (4) even though he realizes that he isn't. He feels like it, taking one class at a...

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