Protagonist's Success in "One's a Heifer"

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The protagonist of “One’s a Heifer” goes on a quest to find his two lost calves. But the primary reason for taking this journey is to show his Aunt Ellen that he’s not a child anymore and is capable of succeeding. “I didn’t wave back” (54): this is the protagonist’s first attempt at adulthood, not waving goodbye to his aunt. Throughout his journey, the boy travels through “silent miles of prairie,” “nagging winds,” and deadly cold,” yet he remains determined: “[I] choked my disappointment down and clicked Tim on again” (55). When the boy finally sees what could only be his calves, he is affronted by a man, which, when he introduces himself, makes the boy feel like an adult: “Then, as if I were a grown-up, he put his hand out and said, ‘My name is Arthur Vickers’” (58). This shows again the protagonist’s desire to be treated like an adult and not a child. During some conversations with Vickers, however, the boy also discovers some scary things about him, like the fact that he “put out” a girlfriend he didn’t like. When the boy awakens that night, he tells himself to run through his plan one more time, ends up falling asleep, and has a dream about the box-stall. At this point in the story, the boy’s goal changes from finding his yearlings, to needing to know what’s inside the stall: “I agreed, realizing now that it wasn’t the calves I was looking for after all, and that I still had to see inside the stall” (64). At the end, Vickers attacks the boy after he attempts to see inside the box-stall: “Vickers seized me [...] it was such a hard, strangling clutch at my throat that I felt myself go limp and blind” (66). When the protagonist arrives home frightened, cold, and a little hysterical, his aunt tries to calm him, and tells him that the yearlings came home on their own just after he set out. And that is when the boy realizes what was in the stall: “If it wasn’t the calves in there-” (66). In one sense, the boy fails in his quest, for he doesn’t return with the...
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