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Death in the Woods Analysis

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Montana Jenkins

on 7 November 2013

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Transcript of Death in the Woods Analysis

Death in the Woods
Step 1
Summary
Thesis
In Sherwood Anderson's short story, "Death in the Woods", we find a contrast from the woman's idealistic desire to be needed with the realistic role she plays in society through rigid motif, vulgar ambiguity, and grotesque personification; at last proving that our failure to be recognized often leads to self-ruin.
Not being recognized was the main reason Mrs. Grimes gave up on life. After years of work she eventually realized it was all in vain.
Idealistically she wanted to be recognized, but realistically she played no big role in society.
Motif
"Starve, eh? Well, things had to be fed. Men had to be fed, and the horses that weren't any good buy maybe could be traded off, and the poor thin cow that hadn't given milk for three months. Horses, cows, pigs, dogs, men."
"Then she settled down to feed stock. That was her job."
"How was she going to get everything fed?-that was her problem."
- This is relevant to the thesis because all animals needed to be fed, and that was her only job in life. It made her feel like she had a purpose.
"She had got the habit of silence anyway-that was fixed."
"My brother and I were silent'"
- Silence was reoccurring in this short story. It described the woman in life and death. When her body was found the gathered group was silent.
Personification
"'Now we are no longer wolves. We are dogs, the servants of men. Keep alive, man! When man dies we become wolves again."
-The dogs were having thoughts of their own and were anticipating the woman's death.
"When she was found, a day or two later, the dress had been torn from her body clear to the hips, but the dogs had not touched her body."
- This connects to the thesis because it to shows how neither man nor dog needed the woman even after her death.
Conclusion
Death in the Woods was a fine story, conveying multiple themes, such as human desire, silence, and sexual desires. We enjoyed the story, but moments of the story were odd. In one part of the story it mentions a farm girl being in use sexually to her parental figure. We found that disturbing along with the fact that it seemed as if she cared very little about her child's well being. Our final opinion of this short story is that while reading it, keep in mind the setting of the story, and maybe it wont be as disturbing.
Ambiguity
"Thank heavens she didn't have to feed her husband - in a certain way. That hadn't lasted long after their marriage and after the babies came."
- Ambiguity is used in this way to show the similarities between food and sex. As a woman she was expected to provide; she accomplished this task by means of food and sex.
Setting
Death in the Woods is placed in the late 19th Century. During this time, a woman would normally be a housekeeper and/or caretaker-which brings us to the story. Grimes' role in society wasn't unusual; she was a typical, excluded woman who no one ever gave any attention to. Maybe this is why, when the butcher showed some compassion, she had a sudden realization of who she was, and being uncomfortable with it, took her life. The time period definitely had an effect in this story. If she were to ever make her own decisions or choices, then her life would've ended differently. However, it was really never her fault to begin with.
Mrs. Grimes
The narrator describes a certain type of poor, elderly woman. All country people have seen a woman like this, he says, but she is usually ignored.
The woman’s name was Grimes, and she lived with her husband, Jake, and their son in a small house several miles out of town. Both men were tough and violent.
As a child, Grimes was an orphan and had to work as an indentured servant to a German couple. The husband would try to sexually assault Grimes.
Jake, her husband, came to her rescue one June night and married her.
After having their son, Grimes' only job was to feed animals.
Her family often went on long hunting trips without Grimes; leaving her to tend to the house alone.
One day, Grimes took a trip to the butcher. Pitying Grimes, the butcher gave her more meat than she needed. Noticing that the butcher was being kind to her, she saw the light and realized she wasn't as important as she had thought.
On her long walk home, Grimes decided to take a "rest" in the woods. These are then, subsequently, her final moments.
A day or so later, a hunter found her body and reported it to the town. A group of men gathered to look at the crime scene. This is where the narrator found his inspiration to tell the story.
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