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Short Story Essay - Analysis of "The Stone Boy"

By kisam3 Jul 20, 2004 1381 Words
Gina Berriault's "The Stone Boy", a narrative story, mainly portrays the tragedy committed by a nine-year-old boy, Arnold, who has a big family of six people accidentally kills his older brother, Eugene. This pair of brothers has a pretty good relationship because they just act like typically brothers getting along very well. One night they went duck hunting but all out of blue that Arnold accidentally shoots Eugene with a gun which his father gives him, so that leaves Eugene dead and his responsible. The most unexpected thing is: Arnold keeps picking peas, instead of going back home immediately and tell his parents what has happened. So everybody thinks that he is a cold-blooded boy. Later Arnold was brought to the sheriff when everybody thinks that he is a cold-blooded boy, a stone boy. Angered by Arnold's coldness, they shut him out, trying to ignore him and they even do so at the one time when he is about to express his sorrow to them. It is real hard for them to get through the grief they have which makes Arnold shirk as weird as his actions after the accident. To earn the forgiveness, one night Arnold is about to express himself to his parents about his grief and guilt but his mother just simply turns him down as well as showing reluctant to talk to him. Finally Arnold's father goes through it and starts talking to Arnold; so does everyone in the family but it is too late. This story is definitely a fairly heartfelt tale which everyone in the story thinks that Arnold is a ruthless boy but for me, he is not. Even though he kills his brother without going back home to tell his parents right away, I do think that he is actually the other victim in this certain incident when his true emotion has been concealed by all the people around him.

Impacted by the surroundings, the apathetic characteristic of people that Arnold lives with, he reacting unemotional after tragedy while he subconsciously concentrates on his job rather than the death of his brother. The city in the story is a place with not much passion, a distinctive "stone city" as well as Arnold's "stone parents", which is the reason why the people who live there are quiet, introspective and as what I just mentioned, "unemotional". Not affected by the death of the son, Arnold's father still goes to work as usual although still feeling upset in some measure while his mother keeps working on the housework without any expression. So that, raised in this city in the previous nine years, the surroundings have pressed Arnold becomes a boy who has no agitation of passion and sensibility. Aesthesia is a very essential element of being a worthy human being so that a senseless someone is the most miserable one in the world. To experience real love and care, the first thing comes along must to be an emotional one. Or else the world will become so gloomy and merciless. From this saying, the stone boy -- Arnold - is victimized by his upbringing environment, which is totally out of control by his own accord.

Arnold is the saddest and dejected person to Eugene's death even though he is acting unemotional in the story. In the text P.135, "Arnold never tired of watching Eugie offer silent praise unto himself. He wondered, as he sat enthralled, if when he got to be Eugie's age he would still be undersized and his hair still straight." We can see that Arnold admires Eugene a lot because he tries to resemble his brother. Living with his brother for nine years, Arnold loves Eugene more than anyone else. Imagine a nine-year-old boy kills his brother accidentally, even for a let say, nineteenth guy; he might not be able to react rightly either. Killing someone, which is, not on purpose, is an act that we never know how the feeling is unless you have tried so. But I do believe that it must be suffered from mental deathblow very much, especially the one who is dead is someone as though his hero.

Shooting Eugene accidentally, everyone starts changing his or her attitude sharply towards Arnold. Regardless his grief and insecurity, people treat him as a little freak,

considering him has no emotion at all. Like the sheriff says, "he's either a moron or he's

so reasonable that he's way ahead of us." "It's come to my notice that the most

reasonable guys are mean ones. They don't feel nothing." (P. 137) Except the sheriff,

Arnold's uncle, Andy, is truly mad on Arnold. Since Andy had been fond of Eugie while

Eugie had resembled him a lot; they went hunting together as well as having a lot of great

memories. To express his anger, he does not show any sympathy and concern to his little nephew, but excessively expresses his ire by "staring" Arnold with somewhat sort of animosity. Not only is his uncle, the most impressive snatch is the reaction of Arnold's mother. We can imagine that how a mother feels when losing her beloved son, but to all intents and purposes, she should not have acting like this in that point because her reactionary behavior does affect Arnold deeply. Once Arnold goes to her bedroom and intends to tell her how sorrowful he is, wanting to let her know how he felt about Eugie anyhow. But his mother refuses to listen to him, calling him to go back his room severely. She even "leaned her head in her hand all through the meal, curving her fingers over here eyes so as not to see him." (P. 137) These are all the evidence showing how people turn worse towards Arnold. May I ask how a nine years old boy could be managed to bear this kind of sudden change? He does not mean to kill his brother, who he respects. It is just an accident. Yet everybody regards him as a mean person, thinking that it is totally his responsibility; instead of trying to understand and talk to him. There is no wonder why he becomes that emotionless, as his family and the people around him make him to be so when he has no chance to choose his way of acting, psychogenesis as well.

At the end of the story, it hands over that Arnold becomes a real stone boy--a heartless person with no feeling at all, a victim caused from all the consequences. At the breakfast time, his father told Nora (his sister) to pass the pitcher to Arnold so that it seems that the family is forgiving him. They finally recognize him again which makes him feels relievable, but nothing other than that. His mother asks him why he knocked her door the other night, as if expecting his answer--an answer with meaning, perhaps something about Eugene's death or whatever. But this time, there might be no longer grief and sadness no more in his mind. Inhumanity dominates his soul then he answered his mother that "I didn't want nothing." (P. 139) "His legs trembling from the fright his answer gave him," revealing that he already becomes a real stone boy, as what he feels by physically shown, his legs trembling, but the fear grows along. A stone boy--now he knows he already is.

The entire story is very well developed and written in details. While I was reading it, "unfairness" is the thing came to my mind. Arnold is wrong, in some aspects, but he

deserves way too much. He is just a kid; in the meanwhile he did not shoot his brother on purpose. He loves Eugene, yes he does. But ironically, he killed his own brother whom he admires so much that I feel so pity to Arnold's misfortune. So this is the major reason why I chose this to write about; I want to say that he is also a victim in this accident, instead of being treated as a cruel moron. He did not go back home right after shooting Eugene is forgivable, logical indeed. As what I talked about in the previous part, living under this kind of upbringing, the character would be undoubtedly resulted like his. A nine-year-old kid is supposed to have a happy life with his family but however, he does not.

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