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The Contest analysis

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ryan denneny

on 8 November 2013

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Transcript of The Contest analysis

Shows how Plato and Creel are sort of brought back to reality at that moment, and they not only see how ridiculous the contest is and how pointless it was, but also how there seemed to be little possibility of ever escaping Elk Tooth--always have been and always will be stuck there participating in games of boredom.
Genre/Author’s Purpose

Slice of Life:May have no plot, but shows a ‘slice’ of everyday circumstances

Point of View
POV: Third Person Omniscient

Historical Context

World aid for 7 Asian countries hit by Tsunami (2004)
London’s worst attack since WWII by Islamic terrorists
Hurricane Katrina, most deadly Atlantic Tropical Cyclone

The Contest analysis
by Ryan Denneny and Elizabeth Rowland

Author’s Bio

Plot summary
The town of Elk Tooth holds a beard growing contest to see
who can grow the longest beard. Soon the contest becomes very competitive,sparking many disagreements about the beards. Tired of the arguments, Amanda, a bartender, goes to the house of Mercedes de Silhouette, the Wife of Bill de Silhouette who was a man who went to Princeton and had collected a large library of books, hoping to find one on beards. Unable to find the book she’s looking for, Amanda goes back to work only to find that Mercedes has figured out her husbands organization system and has found the book she needed. Amanda then takes the book back to the bar,allowing all the competitors to learn from the book. Soon everyone thinks they have figured out how to win the contest until a man for Rhode Island walks into the bar with a beard that out matches everyone elses, claiming to be a friend of Bills. He states that he is moving to the town, putting an end to the contest.
Edna Annie Proulx
Born in Norwich, Connecticut on August 22, 1935
Went to college at The university of Vermont
First novel was Postcards (1992) and received PEN/Faulkner Award
Has won Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for The Shipping News
Wrote Brokeback Mountain which was turned into a film.

To entertain
Show the boredom and disconnection of some people
Setting: Elk Tooth, Wyoming;
a town in the north part of the United States.

Pee Wee’s Bar

Mercedes’ house and ‘library’

Isolation; the characters were isolated from the rest of the world. They were uncultured and ignorant of the society outside of their own (shown when they didn’t understand the information in the books or why they didn’t understand Mercede’s husband’s love for books and etc.)
Importance of reading/learning
There is always going to be someone better
Knowledge opens up one’s world

Character Analysis

Amanda Gribb: A bartender at Pee Wee’s. Tired of the arguments over beards,goes to find a book on the subject
Mercedes de Silhouette: Widow of Bill de Silhouette,a Princeton graduate and book collector. Finds the book Amanda needs
Creel Zmudzinski: Game and Fish worker who has a crush on Amanda
Ralph Kaups: A man from Rhode Island. Longer beard than anyone else. In town to purchase land and move in.
Other Contest participants: competitive people of the town

The beards: A sort of prestige in the town,everyone thinks theirs is the best until someone from outside the town comes and shows that their beards are nothing special.
Books:Knowledge and understanding of the outside world.
Ralph Kaups: How oblivious they were to the outside world and possibilities
Motorcycle: Freedom and Escape. Everyone was not only isolated, but in a sense, trapped. The ability to get out of the tiny town seemed out of grasp--just as the expenses for the bike.


“The idea that there were shops devoted entirely to books would have astonished the Pee Wee cow crowd…” (429 near the bottom)
Shows how disconnected they were,
and how little the seemed to care about their isolation because of their lack of knowledge.

Quotes cont.
“Elk Tooth residents can take no more of reality. They embrace fads and fancies, and fortunes ride on rash wagers.” (First page in the first paragraph)
There is so little to do and so little known,
that they end up creating their own activities in their boredom.

"You know," said Plato Bucklew, "I don't care for them new V-Rods. If I was to get a motorsickle it would be one a the old Buffalos. You ever hear a them?"
"Heard a them but never seen one. Heard they never got it off the drawin board." said Creel Zmundzinski.
"That might just be the best part of it," said his friend enigmatically.
"Take a horse, myself."
Quotes cont.
Octogenarian: Someone who is in their 80s
Clerestory: A raised construction as on a roof, and having windows or slits for light or air.
Circumlocutions: A roundabout or indirect way of speaking; the use of more words than necessary to express an idea.
Perusal: the act of surveying or examining
Postiche: Artificial, false, or counterfeit
In Situ: Undisturbed; original or natural place
Advocacy: the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending
Full transcript