Mule Killers by Lydia Peelle
This is a story about unrequited love and its consequences and the change from child to adult. Time changes and life goes on. Whether people accept the changes and might takes advantage of the possibilities given to them, but people make mistakes, especially when they are young and in love. Will it be a bump on the road or will it change the direction they are heading. These are some of the themes that the short story “Mule Killers” is dealing with.
Mule Killers is told by a narrator, who is telling the story of his father meeting his mother. It is a son telling about his father telling his son what happened the year he was 18 and the mule killers came. So ...view middle of the document...
Nevertheless it becomes the beginning of the narrator’s life. The father’s behavior is deeply influenced by the environment in the agricultural community in which he is raised. The father’s poor ability to express his feelings stems from the uncertainty he has about his feeling. He likes books, music, the mule Orphan and the girl Eula – however he is not certain if it’s okay to have feelings for such things. In a community with firm definitions of your roles in the society it can be rather disturbing to experience feelings whose roots you do not know of. The father receives the news about the girl’s pregnancy in the church, which indicate that the community is religious and traditional. For the same reason abortion is not an option as the father reveals the truth to his father. The Grandfather’s conclusion is unmistakable: “This is wrong he says. Repeats it. You got no choice but you take care of it. This I wrong” (Page 12, line 18-19)
All though the father still insists that he wants to marry Eula – but from where we are standing in time we can clearly see that he ended up following his father’s reaction, so to speak. One must say it is noteworthy that it is the grandfather’s expressing of feelings that makes the father see the seriousness of this action. At one time the father spies on his father crying and even though it takes some time for him to acknowledge the discovery of the father’s feelings it makes him realize that other people in fact have feelings too. The relationship between the father and the grandfather are what one may call a bit tense. At the time where the grandfather insists that the father must marry the girl he had made pregnant, we can see what kind of relationship there is between the father and the grandfather. The father replies to the grandfather and call him “sir” – I find that a bit odd as it sounds more like the grandfather is his superior in the army.
The story of the mules being taken away from the farm symbolizes pictures of the father’s development. The switch from mules to tractors happens simultaneously with the fathers change from child to adult. The mules symbolize an idyllic farming past while the tractors – rational, unfeeling machines – symbolize the progress that has taken over. As the father has done his fatal act of naivety and emotional impotence the last mule is departed and leaves the farm – the last bit of innocence is now gone! Progress can sometimes hurt. After the last mule is departed, one of the tractors turn over and hurts the driver. At the same time the father experiences the consequences of his acts in the hayloft.
As I see it there are two themes in the short story: The first theme in the short story...