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The Large Ant

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Hailee Gallaher

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of The Large Ant

Formalism focuses on the overall analysis of the story as it's written and the artistic aspects of the work. It gives general view of the story and describes common narrative properties.
Archetypal/Myth Criticism
An archetypal or myth critic would look at the different symbols that occur within the story they also would view the story as a hidden underlying message within the short story.

Symbols are often researched in this theory. The "ant" is seen as an industrial and active creature. We also researched that the ant shows the fragility of all living creatures. A multiple of ants can be compared to humanity swarming the Earth and symbolizes war.
Feminist Theory
Feminist theory regards the overall impact and treatment that women receive within a literary work.
Hailee, Shantia, Anosha
The Large Ant
Howard Fast
The Large Ant is about Mr. Morgan, a typical all American man who goes on a fishing trip with his friends, but stumbles upon a strange new species of ant in the fishing shack he stays in. After returning home, he's curious to find out more about the creature, and brings the dead specimen to the local museum only to find more about himself as a part of the human race than the ant.
Mr. Morgan ended up killing the ant at the shack out of fear. When he contacts the museum to learn more about what it is, he is surprised when he has to search within himself as to why he killed the ant; why it become human instinct to kill what we don't understand.


Protagonist: Mr. Morgan, a typical family man, enjoys relaxing, describes himself as humane, and proves to self doubt - he is he most round character in the story, and also the narrator. He also can be considered as an antagonist as he eventually battles his own internal conflict.

Antagonist: The men who were featured as the scientists in the museum, Lieberman, Fitzgerald, and Hopper. They are pretty flat characters, without much detail but they represent his conscience by stating what he eventually comes to terms with about human nature.

Mr. Morgan's wife also plays a small role through some dialogue in the story.

A person looking at this story using feminist theory would immediately notice the lack of women altogether. The story briefly mentions WW2, and the atomic bomb. During this time women were still struggling with independence in comparison to men.
The story is written by a man, about a man, and focuses mainly on humanity; despite mentioning women at all.

Mr. Morgan's relationship with his wife is barely displayed, but he doesn't speak to her in the most polite way. He doesn't mention the ant to her which shows that women are not included and 'business.'

He goes on a trip with other males, and his wife goes out with one of her friends, they're married but do not show a serious romantic relationship with mutual respect.
Structuralism is the method of looking at structures of the world. Nothing is singled out but is part of something larger.

A structuralist would look at this story and recognize that although the ant is a key aspect to the story, it is a larger representation of how humans are towards what we don't know about.

The ant could have been any creature but because Mr. Morgan didn't understand what it was, he killed it by instinct.

The ant is part of a larger lesson which is taught to Mr. Morgan. As the ant is dissected at the museum, he learns that the ant actually represented something different beautiful, but humans don't take the time to learn this.
Post structuralism looks at a piece of writing in the opposite way of structuralism. It views aspects of the story as more than just a closed system. It doesn't define anything specifically and doesn't pinpoint anything to one idea.

A post structural perspective would regard the way the ant is defined throughout the story. When the ant is dissected they discover tools in a pouch that the ant had carried with it.

The tools themselves are never described in detail, leaving the reader to apply their own definition as to what they are. The author also leaves the ending as no conclusion as to what the ants are, the scientists aren't able to identify them, which allows different themes to flourish.
Archetype/Myth Criticism Continued...
When Mr. Morgan went on a trip and decided to stay a little longer after wards,
the "trip" symbolized as a quest to discover himself.
On the trip, Mr. Morgan went to a lake.
The "lake" represented as a mirror that shows revelations and the transitions of life, death and resurrection.
Mr. Morgan has a
"shadow" (a dark and hidden unconscious part of the mind.) The shadow reveals when he kills the ant out of natural instinct, without thinking about why he did it.
When Mr. Fitzgerald pulls out the 8 jars of the same ant.
The number "8" represents bringing an earthly creature to a spiritual realm.
St. Regis Mountain of Adirondacks has a lot of forest because it is a forest type ecosystem.
"Forest" is symbolic as an "opening" to creatures with symbols that represent dangers that all people have to face.
A marxist critic would study different text that reflect social text off of historic text.
Examples From the Text
"This hasn't happened to me since 1943 on my way
to Europe on a tub of a Liberty ship."

"It came open like the belly of a bomber"

"I went into my study, lit another cigarette and contemplated my fishing creel."
New Historicism
A new historic critic would notice the historic references within the text and also behind the creation of the book.
The story's setting takes place in post WW2. The large ants came from the atomic bombs radiation aftermath.
Reader's Response Theory
Readers response critics believe that words are dynamic. A reader's interpretation of the story changes every time the story is read. They would also see that the story's meaning lies beyond the text.
Symbols and Imagery
The symbols that are represented throughout the story all tie in to a meaning that is "Our humanity is being desensitized to killing smaller living organisms. Humans kill smaller organisms without using their mind to think before their actions because this is a natural instinct."
Symbols and Imagery Continued...
Imagery is what describes most of the attributes of the ant creature in the story.

Formalist can view a very good example of imagery in this story when Howard Fast makes Mr. Morgan say a very visual and realistic description of how he saw the ant after it was dissected.
When Mr. Morgan realizes the beauty of life that the ant once had he examines each piece of the ant and says
" I had to look at the ant now, and I realized that I had not truly looked at it before."
Examines how society would tackle the difficulty of rejecting or incorporating western norms and regulations

In this short story post-colonialism is clearly shown as, upon the meeting of Mr. Morgan and the 'ant', it is the norm to kill it. That is our first instinct. For him, it was hard to accept that such a creature existed, especially because this occurred in the late 30's and mid 40's. The atomic bomb had gone off at that time and no one stopped to think, that maybe these creatures were a result of that.
Psychoanalytic Theory
Psychoanalytic is the study of personality development and the influences of it on behaviour.

This theory can really relate to "The Large Ant" because after killing the 'ant' Mr. Morgan's personality and behaviour seemed to change. He seemed very distracted. The only thing on his mind being the thing he had killed. His behaviour changed after learning there were more of the creature, as he became somewhat relieved.
Eco-Criticism Theory
Ecocriticism is the study of the relationship between literature and physical environment.

An eco-criticism theorist could potentially recognize that although this story may be about ants it could have a deeper thought; like the humane instinct of killing an unknown creature. Other than covering the large ant, another thing that was covered that in our society accepting the unusual is harder .
Queer Theory
The queer theory explores the issue of sexuality, power, and marginalized population in literature and culture.

Reading this story made us come to terms that despite being wrote in the 30's and 40's it does not have a lot of super heterosexuals. It deals with the inner emotion of a man. No one would ever know. Having to reread the story a coupid of are not really brought up into the story.
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