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Analytical Essay of Donald Halls’ “A Hundred Thousand Straightened Nails”

Donald Halls’ “A Hundred Thousand Straightened Nails” is a symbolic presentation of the decay of New Hampshire the author uses the life of Washington Woodward to show the pointless existence that is experienced in a place as lifeless as New Hampshire. He uses the contrast of his own opinion and the beliefs of Woodward to show how after a while it is impossible to escape a pointless mindset. Washington finds joy in discarded relics such as old nails, and wood, and finds simple joy in simple life. He settled on life, in his lifeless town and spent his life with his animals, his stories, his beliefs and his box of “A Hundred Thousand Straightened Nails.”(Hall) In the opening paragraph of Donald Halls’ work “A Hundred Thousand Straightened Nails” the narrator of the essay states that “[he] was always aware that New Hampshire was more dead than alive.” (Hall 252) The decay of New Hampshire as a town was symbolically presented in the comparison with Washington Woodward and his ironically pointless life. The author uses imagery to depict the useless life that was led by Woodward. The essay puts a lot of weight on the phrase “a hundred thousand straightened nails” however the phrase that carries this essay and portrays the images that the author wanted to be delivered is “string too short to be saved”. The irony of the sentences draws the reader in and makes the reader think about exactly what is being stated. Imagine a box, labeled “String Too Short to Be Saved”, time was put into creating or finding that box, time was put into labeling the box, and more effort yet again was exhausted to collect the strings, all to be put into a box, clearly stating that what was in the box had no purpose whatsoever. Woodwards’ life was like a box of strings that no one really needed. Hall uses Washington to portray his fear of someday becoming as lifeless as the man that he was describing. “He had lived...
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