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"The Cranes" by Peter Meinke
Transcript of "The Cranes" by Peter Meinke
Inside of a old Dodge car looking out on the marshy Gulf.
seems to be knowledgeable about different birds
in poor health (“...can’t smoke, can’t drink martinis, no coffee, no candy...I can hardly get up the goddamn stairs.”)
not religious (“How about turning on that preacher station so that we can throw up?”)
loves his wife of many years
caring and doting
blames herself for a lot of things
regrets leaving her kids without parents
even feels bad about the mess they are going to leave
The style of The Cranes can be described as informal and conversational and uses everyday language to describe events.
i.e.: can’t, they’d,it’s, yep, don’t, “whooping cranes, nothing else so big” (4).
They planned on killing themselves because their quality of life had diminished greatly and they wanted to die while they still had something to be proud of.
They loved each other so much that they could not see their lives without the other one in it.
"He turned in his seat, picked up an object wrapped in a plaid towel, and placed it between them in the front. "Here's to looking at you, kid," he said." (26)
""Did you bring something for your ears?" "No, I can hardly hear anything anyway,"" (39-40)
"Suddenly, the two cranes plunged upward, their great wings beating the air and their long slender necks pointed like arrows toward the sun." (44)
Peter Meinke (1931- present)
He is primarily a poet, but in recent years he has written a book of short stories.
His short stories always portray everyday simple activities that contain surprisingly deep, serious, or humorous messages.
He believes short stories have more in common with poems than with novels because short stories and poems leave out parts of the whole picture and choose to cut out extraneous details and conversations that make up a novel.
About the Author
The couple are in their car by the marshes on the Gulf.
The couple notices the cranes, and talks about them for a moment.
They begin to reminisce, discuss their age and their children, and return to the subject of the cranes and their courtship.
The couple lovingly jokes again about their age, the woman leans back and closes her eyes, and the cranes leap into the air.
The cranes represent the old couple in the car.
When the cranes are on the ground, it represents the couple's lives on earth.
As they fly away, it represents the couple's souls as they fly up towards Heaven.
Cranes are known to be very calm birds, just as the couple was as they faced their death.
In the beginning of the story the tone seems light and carefree, but the choice diction foreshadows darker events.
“the shower curtain spread over the front seat crackled and hissed” (3).
“the water looked, like metal still and hard”(20).
“The hull of the car gleamed beetle-like, dull and somehow sinister in its metallic isolation” (43).
Meinke creates this style through the constant dialogue, which makes up the majority of the story.
The few observations and actions not captured follow the same style and foreshadow the story’s ending.
The tone is ironic because it is happy and nostalgic but it isn’t until the end that the reader realizes that this couple intends to kill themselves.
At the beginning, Peter Meinke makes the reader think that a happy couple in love are on a picnic, but through the characters’ dialogue and Meinke’s diction, a sinister darkness creeps in.
reminiscent and nostalgic with an underlying darkness
The woman was terminally ill and was going to die soon, so the couple choose a desert location where they could die together. The husband knowing his wife would die first because of her poor health, brought a gun and planned to shoot himself as soon as his wife was dead.
They were old and ready to die. The women drank poison and died first because of its effects. The husband shot himself as soon as his wife died.
Somehow they sealed of their while car and were perhaps filtering in exhaust. The women died first of lack of oxygen, and her husband, eager to follow his wife took his own life with a gun.
A lot of assumptions are made at the end of the story, like the plaid towel holds a gun and the cranes scatter at the sound of gunshot, but none of this is certain.
Do you agree with any of our theories? Is there another that might fit the ending better?
How does The Crane reflect Peter Meinke’s idea that short stories have more in common with poems than novels?