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Brokeback Mountain Essay

1094 words - 5 pages

Charlotte O’Halloran
October 12, 2014
Rhetoric- Great Divide RD
Killer Optimism
The Great Depression greatly affected most Americans leaving many jobless and desperate. Wyoming suffered less than other states. However, crop prices still dropped, banks failed, and mines were shut down; all of which the main character, Hi Alcorn experiences first hand as he struggles to raise a family in Wyoming during the Great Depression in “The Great Divide” by Annie Proulx. This short story follows the lives of Hi and his wife, Helen who are a young couple that have decided to buy land and build a house in Wyoming during The Great Depression with hopes to raise a large family and live the ...view middle of the document...

The decisions that are made due to that optimism shape Hi and Helen’s life in the future.
Hi Alcorn’s over confidence is visible in “$600 and a cow” through the conflicting tones between the narrator and Hi. Immediately Hi has a very hopeful tone in his voice as he decides to buy and raise horses when he says “I’ll have them gentled down pretty quick” (Proulx 101). Following this statement from Hi, the narrator makes a note to the reader to confirm and explain the reality of the situation and Hi’s experience with horses. The narrator states, “But he was not good with horses and after a few months he sold them, using the money for a down payment on a tractor.” (Proulx 101) The optimism that is shown through the tone of Hi’s narrative directly relates to the overarching theme that Hi’s optimism leads him and his wife down many roads of hardship. An example of this is when Hi buys a horse thinking he can control horses and make money off them, but ends up having to sell them to buy a tractor, which he ends up selling as well later in the passage. Near the beginning of the passage, the foreshadowing is evident when Hi says, “That’s fine, new land, news spring house, new big house coming, one baby coming.” (Proulx 100) Again, Hi’s exaggerated optimism is evident, but what is more important is the weather imagery in the passage and how these images foreshadow future obstacles Hi and Helen face such as the loss of their land, home, and Hi’s death.
The stylistic significance in this passage is crucial to this short story because it foreshadows what is to come for Hi and Helen. Through the development of the weather imagery, each change directly correlates to a failure Hi experiences. The passage begins with Helen drinking water from the spring they just bought along with land. The water is described as “ice- cold water, pure and sweet” (Proulx 101) because they had just bought this land and it was pure and life was sweet. They were expecting their first child at this time and had just bought land so...

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