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Penny in the Dust

Language Arts Short Story Assignment by Melanie and Caprice, Grade 10

Melanie Skye Thunder

on 15 January 2013

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Transcript of Penny in the Dust

Penny in the Dust Short Story Assignment
By Melanie and Caprice Main Plot Summary Ernest Buckler’s Penny in the Dust begins with Dan, the protagonist of the story, and his sister recalling the story of when their parents thought Dan was lost; “It was all over losing a penny or something, wasn’t it?” Dan’s father doesn’t show him much love or affection, and their relationship is somewhat formal and awkward. But one day, Dan’s father gives him a shiny new penny, which symbolizes a deeper meaning in their relationship. At first, Dan goes to a local store to spend the penny on some popcorn, but on the way, realizes that he wants to keep his penny. Theme Through the story, it is made evident that Dan’s father does not show much affection for his son, but the penny he gives to Dan symbolizes their father-son relationship and shows Dan that his father really does love and care about him. When Dan loses the penny, his father helps him find it, which means a lot to him: “Let’s see if we can’t find it.” And when Dan explains to his father why he is so upset at losing the penny and what it means to him, Dan says that “it was the only time I had ever seen tears in his eyes.” Dan’s sister also says “I think it’s the only time I ever saw Father really upset” when remembering the time that their family thought Dan was lost. This demonstrates that, although Dan might not have always known, his father really does care about him. Symbolism
and Irony Setting, It is likely that "Penny in the Dust" takes place on a Nova Scotia farm, the same setting that the author, Ernest Buckler, grew up in. The story was published in 1948, and it takes place around 1915. This is the year that Buckler was 7 years old, which is the protagonist's age for the majority of "Penny in the Dust." This adds to the idea that Dan's experience in the story is similar to the author's. Dan's sister gives us an idea of their property: "'We searched everywhere,' she said, 'up in the meetinghouse, back in the blueberry barrens - we even looked in the well.'" Their family also works with oxen, which supports the farm setting. Author Biography "Penny in the Dust" was written by Ernest Buckler, a Canadian author. He was born in West Dalhousie, a village in Nova Scotia, on July 19th, 1908, and died on March 4th, 1984, at age 75. Buckler is most known for "The Mountain and the Valley," one of his two novels, and has written 67 other short stories and poems, including "The Balance," "The Finest Tree," and "The Locket." Critics of his work state that Buckler was exceptionally talented at writing, but didn’t receive enough recognition. He did, however, receive the Canadian Centennial Medal in 1967. Buckler attended both Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto, earning Bachelor and Masters degrees. He lived the majority of his life on farms in Nova Scotia, and the nature surrounding him may have influenced some of his writing. The End Love is sometimes unspoken,
yet still heard. Theme Statement 1: Theme Treasure is in the eye of the beholder. Theme Statement 2: “I had never seen a brand-new penny before. I thought they were all black. This one was bright as gold. And my father had given it to me.” Something that may be seen as insignificant to others can have a deeper meaning for a different person. In this case, the shiny penny from Dan’s father represents much more to him than just a small amount of money. While playing with the penny, Dan pretends that it is gold and that his family has more money and spends time together more often: “I made out it was gold," I said desperately, “and I - I was making out I bought you a mowin’ machine so’s you could get your work done early every day so’s you and I could go into town...” Although that never happened, it is implied that Dan and his father both imagined it and maintained a caring relationship. By Melanie Giroux
& Caprice Valencia = Part 1 Setting, Continued After Dan receives the penny from his father, he plays with it in sandy or dusty road near a store. It is implied that the characters live in a small local town rather than a large city. There aren’t very many people, and the roads tend to be long, sandy and dry. The main part of the story is set in August, when the days are dry, sunny and hot; and the nights are cool and short. The setting gives the story a placid atmosphere, which is nice because the author is stating his story as a memory. Dan’s family doesn’t have the technology we currently have, so it becomes clear that the story takes place quite some time ago. The weather conditions in the setting are appropriate to the story and the title, because the penny was hidden in a dry, dusty road, not somewhere more wet or dense, like mud. The story doesn’t take place in a busy setting. It seems quite calm, which benefits a story involving simple personal problems and family. The penny from Dan’s father represents the somewhat-hidden love for each other. The father doesn’t show much affection for his son, but through the penny and the emotions expressed during the story, it is revealed that he really does care about his son, even if his love goes unspoken. Dan respects his father and loves him just as much as his father loves him. This becomes obvious when Dan’s father offers to help him find his penny, which leads to a deep and emotional conversation between the two. Symbolism #1 “I wondered, though, why he hesitated
and then put the penny back in his own pocket.” This act by Dan’s father could be so that he could keep the penny close to his heart, a hidden-but-loving action. The father wanted to always be reminded of his son, and to remember that time in their lives. It later becomes evident that Dan’s father hesitated because he was surprised and touched by Dan’s honesty and emotions. This moment happened when Dan and his father had a memorable chance to bond and understand each other. Symbolism #2 Symbolism #3 “It was still shining. He must have kept it polished.” This signifies that, while there is no indication of the father and son later showing more affection for one another, the father always liked to spend time with his son, and their relationship is good. The brand-new, shiny, polished penny symbolizes Dan’s relationship with his father. He knows that the penny means a lot to his son, so he treasures it because his love for his son is strong, even though Dan might not have always known that. Irony By Caprice and Melanie By Melanie By Melanie By Caprice and Melanie By Caprice By Melanie By Melanie By Melanie By Caprice By Melanie An example of irony in “Penny in the Dust”
is how Dan’s father has tears in his eyes when Dan tells him about losing the penny. Their father-son relationship is distant, awkward, and formal, so Dan would have expected his father to become mad or disappointed with him for losing the penny, but he didn’t. It is implied that Dan’s father had never shown this much emotion towards his son until that moment in the story, at which the father displays a form of love for his son. But the next day, Dan’s father helps him look for the penny, and he finds it almost immediately, showing that Dan probably just panicked when he thought he lost it. Dan tells his father why he was so upset at losing the penny, and they share an emotional and loving moment. Afterwards, Dan’s father keeps the penny, and at first, Dan isn’t sure why. At the end of the story, it is revealed that the penny reminds his father if their relationship, and wanted to always remember the time they spent together: “Yesterday I knew. I ever found any fortune and we never had a car to ride in together. But I think he knew what that would be like, just the same. I found the penny again yesterday, when we were getting gout his good clothes - in an upper vest pocket where no one ever carries change. It was still shining. He must have kept it polished. I left it there.” Plot Summary “I began to play with the penny, postponing the decision. I would close my eyes and bury it deep in the sand and then, with my eyes still closed, get up and walk around and then come back to search for it, tantalizing myself each time with the thrill of discovering afresh its bright shining edge. I did that again and again. Alas, once too often.” Dan loses his cherished penny, which is an obstacle in Dan’s story. He feels guilty and ashamed for losing the penny, and goes home to cry himself to sleep. Dan’s parents thought he was missing, and frantically search for him. When they find him, Dan feels like he has disappointed his father because he saw the penny as a sign of trust from his father. Plot Summary
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