Wood Grouse on a High Promontory Overlooking Canada

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Wood Grouse on a High Promontory Overlooking Canada
- analysis and interpretation

The short story Wood Grouse on a High Promontory Overlooking Canada by David Guterson takes place in the mountains between USA and Canada, where two brothers are on a trip together, enjoying nature and doing guy stuff. Guterson uses a first person narrator bound to the 15-year old Bud, whose older brother Gary has just returned home from war and now has taken his little brother out in the wilderness to catch trout, watch the sunset and find the Canadian border. The brothers seem to be fond of each other and enjoy each others company, but the narrator also brings the age difference into focus and the fact that the story is written in the past tense increases the impression that this is a fifteen-year-olds experiences that are being looked back on: “I don’t know. I was fifteen. I spent a lot of time throwing rocks, I know that.” (Line 8.) With his brother being back from war, Bud is not quite sure how to behave and he therefore dismisses himself as a kid who does not know any better. This is also emphasized by the fact that it is mostly Gary who talks. When Bud opens his mouth it is either a lame excuse: “I didn’t think I was going to hit one, Gary” (Line 46) or a stupid question as a result of lack of sense of occasion: “Did you kill anyone in Vietnam?” (Line 74.) The poor communication between the two brothers is a leading element in the story and will be dealt with later.

Looking out in the horizon Bud and Gary spots “a covey of wood grouse” (Line 35). Gary describes them as beautiful and encourages Bud to notice their elegance, but instead the little brother imagines himself as “a hunter of wild animals” (Line 37), picks up a stone from the ground and hurls it towards one of the birds. Unfortunately he hits and the wood grouse falls to the ground. This shows another dissimilarity between the brothers because although Bud claims that he did not mean to hit the bird, their...
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