Jayber Crow

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Maureen Kapler
February 22, 2013

Essay on Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow

Jayber Crow is a self narration of his life story. It details the good, the bad, and the ugly of his life. It talks of his achievements, his failures, and his heart’s self delusion for having found his true love. As a book that recounts the details, the nits and bits of his life, it is compelling that with such a compelling retelling of all that occurred, it remains a narcissist telling of one man’s life. He tells the story with himself as the lead character. A character he contrasts and compares, and at each turn, he always ends up as the better person. He finds the lessons to be gleaned from a well observed and mediated life to be compelling and worthy of being shared. The lessons that he emerges as the better person speak to how others should lead their lives. From this knowledge and self confidence, he finds solace and perspective.

Having his parents die when he was young, he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle. After the aunt and uncle died, happiness slipped away from his life. His life though is not one to be envied but rather to be served to others as an example that we must live out the cards we have been dealt. As barber of the small town for over thirty years, he had garnered the stories of everyone around him. He chronicles the transitions of a small Southern agricultural based rural town alongside the changes in particular inhabitants who catch his keen eye. Woven within his life story, he retells the story of Maddie Keith. This woman, around 20 years his junior, catches his eye when she is a teenager in high school. From here, he continues to observe her life and records the impact of her decisions and those of her family and husband. Through these retellings, the reader comes to understand his devotion to her and, through these instances of relatability, his inability to possess her or protect her from the inevitable sadness of her...
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