One Mile of Ice

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In the short story "One Mile of Ice", Hugh Garner creates a character Ralph Marsden, who becomes responsible of a tragedy that would put his brother in-law's and as well as his own life at risk. Ralph is to blame for the tragedy for he insists on crossing the ice despite of the terrible weather. Also, his consummation of alcohol influences him to make bad decisions. Last of all he fails to recognize hints and signs that could have prevented the mishap. While some might say Pete's selfishness on the ice is to blame for this accident, Ralph is liable for he's more experienced living in New Brunswick.

Ralph holds responsibility for the incident because he makes an irrational decision. His pride in crossing the ice first only pushes him closer to his death. "I've always wanted to be first to cross by sleigh this year"(16). Ralph wants to cross the ice first despite many risks involve. The weather is also worsening; however Ralph still wants continue. The weather indicates that it is a bad day for sleighing across the ice. He states, "it's getting colder…It must be 40 below"(15). Ralph knows that it is unsafe to cross the ice and that he is in a sense asking for trouble in doing so. Ralph's pride and bad decision truly affects both him and Pete in the long run, as stated by Edwin Markham "Choices are the hinges of destiny". Ralph's irresponsibility is shown when he begins to drink. When he drinks "he [becomes] a new Ralph Marsden, cocky, argumentative and ready to take a chance on anything"(17). Ralph Marsden, once influenced by alcohol becomes a different person; he ignores the livery stable manager owner who tells him not to take a chance with the weather. He says "It's none of my business, but I wouldn't take a chance if I were you…don't forget it's over forty below"(17). Ralph should listen to the manager for he knows better accommodating...
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