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The Far and the Near
Transcript of The Far and the Near
Wrote elaborate, loosely structured fiction
Unsuccessful as a playwrite
Youngest of eight children, two of which died before adulthood Interesting Facts
Father made gravestones
Got a Master's degree at Harvard
Had a cougar girlfriend 18 years older than him that funded his writing
DIED OF A BRAIN INFECTION He was known for his ability to create vivid descriptions, but criticized for the lack of discipline in his work. This story is about an unnamed train conductor that took the same train down the same path every day for many years. He always blew the train whistle at the same spot by a house next to the tracks, and every day a woman and her daughter stepped outside to wave at the train. He did this for many years and saw the woman grow old and the daughter grow up on their utopic farm. Even though the man had never met them, he felt as though he knew them and their pleasant little farm very well. After he became an old man and retired, he decided to go to the house and meet them. However, he was very disappointed when he made his way to the house. Everything seemed strange and uninviting to him. He got to the house and it felt like a completely different place than the one he saw every day in his travels. The women he came to see treated him with what I like to call "stranger danger" and after an awkward conversation among strangers, he left.
The main characters are the conductor and the two women.
The conflict was the conductor's desire to meet the women. This was resolved in his disappointing visit. The moral of this story is that things can appear to be something much different than what they really are. Everything isn't always as good as it may seem to an outsider. Food for thought: An old Russian proverb, "A toe of the star-gazer is often stubbed." "He felt for them and for the house in which they lived such tenderness as a man might feel for his own children" (Wolfe 2).
Here, Wolfe uses a simile to demonstrate the conductor's affection for the women and their house. It also shows how the man feels like he knows them when, really, he has never even met them. "At length the woman invited him almost unwillingly into the house, and called her daughter in a harsh shrill voice. Then, for a brief agony of time, the man sat in an ugly little parlor, and he tried to talk while the two women stared at him with a dull, bewildered hostility, a sullen, timorous restraint" (Wolfe 3).
In this example, the author gives a vivid description of the conductor's awkard meeting with the women which makes the reader almost feel as if he or she was there. ""The Far and the Near" is a particularly vivid example of Wolfe's use of opposites. In the story, Wolfe employs distinct contrasts in imagery and word choice to increase the effectiveness of the story's mood shift." (Novelguide.com)
Poquette went on to specifically describe Wolfe's use of opposites by comparing the engineer's pleasant view of the town, women, and the farm on which they lived from the train and how much less inviting everything seemed the moment he got off the train and began seeing them up front. Works Cited: Gale. "The Far and the Near." Novelguide.com. Thomson Learning Inc., 1 Jan. 2003. Web.
11 Jan. 2012.
Wolfe, Thomas. Literature: The American Experience. Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.
In My Opinion... Modern Era literature is well represented in "The Far and the Near" with the use of imagery, comparisons, and the sense of loneliness commonly found in this style of writing.