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Approach to Sherwood Anderson "I'm a Fool"

By quimbomb Feb 08, 2007 811 Words
"I'm a Fool" is a short story written by the American Sherwood Anderson. The author tells the story of a young unschooled boy who tries to achieve everyday goals by means of ordinary means in a straightforward way. The theme of I'm a Fool deals with the aftermath which come as a result of lack of morality, deceitfulness, falseness. The conflict of this story lies on the shape that lies take; it is a contradiction between what the protagonist should and should not do. Therefore, we can say that this is an abstract conflict: he opposes his own ideas, what constitutes the major element of the plot.

The narrator is the main character: the swipe, he is completely involved in the actions that take place throughout the story, what permits the existence of a complete understanding of the events by the narrator. I'm a Fool is told in a first-person point of view. This allows the author to keep and increase the interest of the readers towards the plot; it is narrative means that makes possible the interaction between narrator and reader.

However, in some cases the author changes the narration point of view towards a second-person point of view, mainly in paragraphs 8, and 10-14. This means makes possible to maintain the same kind of register while narrating without having to use pronouns such as: he or she, for instance:

Gee whizz, it was fun. You got to a county seat town, maybe say on a Saturday or Sunday, and the fair began the next Tuesday and lasted until Friday afternoon. Doctor Fritz would be, say in the 2.25 trot on Tuesday afternoon and on Thursday afternoon Bucephalus would knock 'em cold in the "free-for-all" pace. It left you a lot of time to hang around and listen to horse talk, and see Burt knock some yap cold that got too gay, and you'd find out about horses and men and pick up a lot of stuffyou could use all the rest of your life, if you had some sense and salted down what you heard and felt and saw.

Throughout the story there is a mixture of tenses: present and past. This permits the narrator to tell how he was, how he used to think, and the way he was able to separate himself from that person he was: "It was a hard jolt for me, one of the most bitterest I ever had to face. And it all came about through my own foolishness too . Even yet sometimes, when I think of it, I want to cry or swear or kick myself Perhaps, even now, after all this time, there will be a kind of satisfaction in making myself look cheap by telling of it."

The author makes use of a language ranking between informal and familiar. This aspect together with the use of the first-person point of view gives the story the conversationalist tone it has. Among the instances which could be list there are:

most bitterest

gee whizz


gosh amighty

she don't

kinda sick

me looking back

most used instead of almost

there ain't such guy

there was roots


it come out use of come meaning came


Regarding the setting it is possible to say that the author was very skillful while selecting it. First, the descriptions are perfectly made giving the readers a complete image of the way Ohio (where the story takes place) looked like: "Gee whizz, gosh amighty, the nice hickorynut and beechnut and oaks and other kinds of trees along the roads, all brown and red, and the good smells, and Burt singing a song that was called Deep River, and the country girls at the windows of houses and everything. You can stick your colleges up your nose for all me."

The same occurs with the use of the grandstand and the race meets. If he would have used this device, the conversation between the protagonist -who is the narrator- and Miss Lucy Wessen could not have been kept, because the swipe just knew about horses, and race meets. Cedar Point, there was where Lucy and the narrator had the chance to be alone, and the atmosphere was completely suitable for it: "[...] there was a beach you could walk along and get where it was dark [...].The place we were setting in was dark, like I said, and there was the roots from that old stump sticking up like arms, and there was a watery smell, and the night was like--as if you could put your hand out and feel it--so warm and soft and dark and sweet like an orange."

"I'm a Fool" should be considered a masterpiece of the American literature, and must be one of the short stories to be studied in every course on the literature of the United States of the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.


Burell et al. Anthology of Famous American Stories. Pueblo y Educación, 1975, La Habana.

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