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Land of the Lost

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Land of the Lost

In Stewart O’Nan’s short story “Land of the Lost” a woman’s life is on the edge of being taking over by her lust for reaching a goal. The protagonist refuses so realize that she is an alone elder woman and that her life is lacking meaning and purpose. This paper will include comments on the main character and her life, the point of view in the short story, an interpretation of the title as well as the ending.

The main character of the text is a woman who is working as a cashier in a supermarket in small village called Perry. The woman’s marriage had ended long ago, leaving her behind with an empty room for her boys, who had moved out of the house, and her German shepherd Ollie. Since the main character’s boys have moved out, she must be approximately in the age of 50. She follows a case where James Wade has buried a girl. In the beginning of the text, the reader gets a feeling that this woman is an ordinary middle aged woman living by herself with her dog, nothing unusual. It turns out that this is not the case. Soon after the beginning the reader gets the feeling that the main character is obsessed by this case, and this obsession gradually grows throughout the text. She begins an investigation of this buried girl, digging holes, documenting everything on video and arranges her shifts at her cashier job, so that she can take advantage of the daylight during the investigation. One day in her search, she finds something and immediately calls the FBI for help, it was false alarm though, and they found nothing. She admits one of reasons of the search to herself: “She could admit that at least part of the reason she was searching for a stranger’s daughter was that no one else needed her. Just Ollie” (P. 9, l. 61-62). After the FBI coincidence she promises her two sons that she would take a break. However, a defeat should keep her away from continuing and succeeding in solving this case. From this point, her obsession of the case escalades to beyond what she can control. Ollie is being enrolled in an online course for sniffer dogs. The room of her two boys is turned into her command center, where she keeps all her files. Throughout this evolution of her obsession she put her memories of her sons at a disadvantage.

The point of view in the story is seen through a third person narrator, and it shows the reader how generalized the protagonist is. Not only from being a third person narrator, but also all knowing, the narrator makes it possible for the reader to understand the protagonist thoughts and feelings: “Thank God, she thought. What would Brian say now?” P. 4 l. 138). The narrator works as a “speaker” for the main character, and by that the reader follows her evolution throughout her thoughts.

The title “Land of the Lost” is an indication of the main characters loneliness and the way that she is left alone, only with her dog Ollie. The main character is living in the land of the lost where she is the only citizen, and in this land there is no one that she can discuss the meaning of this investigation with and about what she is trying to reach, only Ollie, but it is not likely that the dog would understand her. To be able to leave this land, the main character would have to find this buried girl, and then everyone would know that she was not crazy, but more likely a hero who had solved the case: “Then everyone would know she wasn’t crazy” (P 4. L 141-142).

The ending of the story queries relief and accomplishment, and sets the reader up in front of a big and fat question mark.
She is relieved that she finally found a body, maybe even the little girls dead body, since she has been searching for such long time without any accomplishments, and after her episode with the FBI where she was being humiliated because it turned out there was nothing but dirt and worms and no dead bodies, but now they would finally see that after all she is not crazy she was just being very determined. The main character’s obsession of the case peaks in the ending. When she actually finds this body she is so thrilled because she finally found what she had been craving so badly for, that she this time she didn’t call the FBI. Maybe because the last time was a humiliation or it might be because she didn’t even give it a thought in her intoxication of success.

Stewart O’Nan’s is trying to tell the readers that if you work and fight for your goals, someday you will reach them, but this goal seeking journey is not harmless. The example in this short story ends up on her own because she gave it too much and ended up being addicted. But this is something we all know. Working hard and giving it all you’ve got only because we are trying to reach success, and we might as well all sometimes be led into the Land of the Lost, where we walk dazzled by the lights of success.

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