Analysis of "The Raft"

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“The Raft” by Peter Orner

The short story ”The Raft” is written by Peter Orner in 2000. The story is about a boy growing up, who becomes aware of life and death and the difference between good and evil. This analysis will focus on the main theme growing up, the narrator, and his relationship to the grandfather.

“The Raft” is about a twelve-year-old boy, who visits his grandparents. The grandfather tells him a story that he has already heard several times, but this time the story is different. The grandfather used to be in the army and fought in the Second World War, and he tells his grandson about an episode, where he bombed naked Japanese on a raft. The story is being told in the grandfather’s closet, and this makes the story different from the other times it was told. The closet is like a confession box – if you wish to get rid of your sins, you can do it anonymously in a confession box, where the priest is sitting next to you behind a wall and listens to your sins. In this story the boy is the priest, and the grandfather is the sinner, and it is very overwhelming to the young boy. Before the grandfather’s confession, the boy was living in ignorance, and he was convinced that the grandfather had never done anything evil or anything not acceptable. The scene works as an eye opener to the boy, and he is now aware of the fact that all people sin, and that no one is completely innocent.

The narrator is a 1st person narrator from the boy’s point of view. Through his eyes, we are being told about the other characters in the story, and the characterization is because of that not objective, and his relationship to the other characters plays a role in the way they are being described. The narrator calls his grandfather “sir”, and the relationship is based on respect. The grandfather is dominating and very direct, e.g. “’Don’t smile,’ he says. ‘Just because I’m smiling, don’t assume I couldn’t kill you right now. Know that about a man’”[1]. It is hard to tell...
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