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Stolpestad William Lychack Essay Definition


We all live a life filled with everyday procedures and routines. Anything from brushing your teeth in the morning, to picking up your kids on your way home. The human being is a creature of habits, and it is by doing these tasks that we feel safe and secure. Without them, what would our lives look like? Yet, some people are so affected by their everyday routines that they end up being a spectator of their own lives. This is what the policeman, Stolpestad, experience experiences in the short story “Stolpestad” written by William Lychack in 2008. He gets so caught up with his daily schedule that every single day ends up feeling like exactly the same.

The story begins in medias res, and we do not get an immediate presentation of the main character, Stolpestad. Instead we follow along on his workday, where we get to know a little bit about him. The events of the short story are presented in a chronological way, and the text does not jump back and fort forth in time. However, at one point, he does reflect on his childhood when driving by his neighborhood, “back to all the turns you were born, your whole life spend along the same sad streets”(p.1 l.10-11). The events of the story all happen in the time between the end of his shift and late Saturday night.

As the name indicates, the main character of the story is the policeman Stolpestad, and even though we do not get at a complete and precise description of him, we still learn a few things throughout the text. It is told to the reader that Stolpestad is a father of two and has a wife called Sheila. However, the reader does not get an impression of an extraordinary extraordinarily caring father. This is illustrated in the way he thinks about going home to his family, “Wife and pair of boys waiting dinner for you, hundred reasons to go straight to them, but soon you’re an hour away, buying a sandwich from a vending machine, calling Sheila from a payphone to say you’re running a little late”(p.3 l.89-92), It might be an overstatement to say that he is a careless parent, but it seems clear that his family is not the number one priority to him a Saturday night.

As mentioned above, we are reading the story from Stolpestad’s point of view, and we follow along his day of work. Nevertheless, the narrative technique is quit quite unusual. The reader is does not only understanding understand the text from his point of view, we are actually reading it, as if we were the main character, Stolpestad. This is the effect of using a second person narrator, who is speaking directly to us and calling us Stolpestad. “And what’s she think you look like now, you ask, town dogcatcher? Oh, you should be so lucky, she says and gives the address and away we go,”(p.1 l.8-9) it says in the beginning of the text, when he speaks with the dispatcher. This way of writing is, as mentioned before, very unusual and it results in giving the reader a completely different perspective on the story.

The story takes place in a small town, and we know that the main character has been living in this place for many years. Furthermore, we learn that Stolpestad does not have very high thoughts of his childhood neighborhood, “your whole life spend along the same sad streets”(p. 1 l.11) It is obvious that he does not enjoy living and working in this area, and this is one of the most important reasons for Stolpestad to perceive his life as boring and trivial. In the beginning of the story, the narrator talks about his day of work driving around the town, “The coffee shops, the liquor stores, laundromats, police, fire, gas stations to pass—this is your life, Stolpestad”(p.1 l.4-5) Especially the last part, “this is your life, Stolpestad” is important because it symbolizes a life that cannot be changed, as if he is determined to live this way, for the rest of his days.

The main event of this story is obviously the intentional execution of the little boy’s wounded dog. To the reader this seems like a very bizarre and tough task for a police officer to handle, and we get the feeling that he is not very fond of having to do it, too, “you with this hope that the boy will be running any moment to you now, hollering for you to stop”(p.3 l.81-82) This is, of course, a very natural way to think, when having to do such an unbearable task. Also, it is understandable that he decides to hide the wound from the gunshot, to protect the young boy from a terrible sight. However, what is surprising is his reaction, when the boy and his father come to his house to confront him. When driving home, Stolpestad thinks about this situation as something he has gone through before, “the deja vu of a pickup truck in the driveway as you pull around to the house, as if you’ve seen or imagined or been through all of this before, or will be through it all again, over and over.”(p.3 l.102-104) It seems to the reader that he already knew what was coming, when he chose to shoot the dog in that way.

It can be difficult to find an overall theme of this story. “Everyday life” might be the closest we can get to determine a central theme. It’s It is because of Stolpestad’s somewhat boring and predictable life that he no longer seems to care about anything and finds that he has seen it all before.

As far as I can see, there are some strong signs of postmodernism in this text. The way that William Lychack has chosen to write his story is, in my opinion, with a sold called “loss of grand narratives”, which basically means that the text has no major purpose or center. In addition to that, you can also se see signs of “death of the author” in the way that the narrator does not tell a simple story that we have to understand. Instead, this story is only what we bring to it ourselves, and it has no deeper meaning.

Last but not least, the way that Stolpestad is portrayed in the story could, to me, be a symbol of dehumanization. Understood in the sense that he becomes, as said before, a spectator of his own mechanical life. An example of a dehumanization of Stolpestad is to be seen in the last part of the text, where he goes out in the woods, “Sheila arriving to that front door, eventually, this woman calling for something to come in out of the night.”(p.4 l.162-164) It is the word “something” that I find significant. Stolpestad changes from a “someone” to a “something” and because of that he looses loses his individuality to his boring everyday life.

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Skrevet i: Engelsk


Resumé af teksten “Stolpestad”
Novellens hovedperson er politimanden Stolpestad, der bliver sendt ud på en opgave, hvor han skal tage sig af at skyde en syg hund for at undgå, den skal lide mere. Han bryder sig ikke om den opgave, han får tildelt, men kørselslederen Phyllis siger til ham, at det er hans arbejde at gøre det. Da han kommer ud til stedet, han er blevet anvist til, er der en lille niårig dreng, der viser ham, hvor hunden ligger. Der ligger ragelse og flyder overalt, hvor de går, og til sidst får han øje på hunden, der ligger i græsset med insekter, der flyver rundt omkring den. Drengen begynder at genere hunden med en buket af græs og stikker endda græstotten hen mod hundens øjne, indtil den til sidst åbner øjnene og ser op ...

Indgangsvinkler til analysen og fortolkningen
Der er mange måder at indlede et essay på, men ved at vælge et udgangspunkt, der kan lede din opgave igennem hele vejen, opnår du at få sammenhæng og ”flow” i din færdige opgavebesvarelse. Et godt udgangspunkt er ét, der kan bruges som den røde tråd gennem hele opgaven.
Nogle indgangsvinkler kunne være:
- At sidde fast i sit liv
- Livets ensformighed
- Barndom over for voksenlivet
- Ubehagelige konfrontationer
- Identitetstab
NB: Der findes mange andre indgangsvinkler, end dem der er nævnt her.
At sidde fast i sit liv
Du kan vælge en indgangsvinkel, hvor det at sidde fast i sit liv er i centrum.
Vælger du denne indgangsvinkel, kunne mulige indledninger til dit essay være en af følgende:

Analyse og fortolkning af novellen
Narrative technique (Fortælle-teknik)
Fortællerteknikken er central i en novelle, fordi den angiver, hvilken synsvinkel,
novellen skildres fra og, hvem fortælleren er. Læseren er indskrænket
til at se begivenhederne i novellen ud fra den fortæller og synsvinkel,
der er valgt, og derfor kan det virke både begrænsende og åbnende
for den måde, man forstår novellen på. I denne novelle er synsvinklen
speciel central, fordi den er anderledes end den, der er normen for noveller.
Du bliver i opgaveformuleringen særligt bedt om at have fokus på
fortællerteknikken, og derfor skal den også være en central del af dit essay.

Fortæller og synsvinkel
Fortælleren selv
Fortælleren er en andenpersonsfortæller (second person narrator), der skriver til et ”du”. Dette ”du”, som fortælleren henvender sig til, er Stolpestad, der er hovedpersonen i novellen. Selvom det er Stolpestad, fortælleren henvender sig til, føler læseren næsten, at der bliver talt til ham/hende, når der er brugt denne fortællerform. Teksten bliver meget vedkommende, og læseren kan næsten føle sig personligt ramt ved kommentarerne i novellen, når der står ”du”:
- “Was toward the end of your shift *...+” (p. 2, l. 1)
- ”This is your life, Stolpestad” (P. 2, l. 5)
Fortællerens rolle
Det er svært at bedømme, om fortælleren, der henvender sig til Stolpestad gennem ”du formen”, er én, der er helt fraværende i teksten eller til stede i novellens univers. Der er visse spor, der tyder på, at fortælleren kunne være en del af det fortalte univers, som når han erklærer: ”away we go” (p. 2, l. 9), fordi der står ”vi”, men dette kunne også bare være et udtryk, der ikke nødvendigvis betyder, at de er to, der tager af sted på opgaven. En mulighed er dog, at fortælleren er en politikollega, der altså er med hele dagen ...

Characterization (Personkarakteristik af drengen)
Opdragelsen af drengen
Antydning af dårlig opvækst
Det antydes at drengen i novellen har fået en dårlig opvækst, fordi der står, at den behandling, han giver hunden, må være tegn på en ondskab, han ikke har haft i sig selv, men har tillært sig:
“It's a streak of cruel he must have learned from someone” (p. 3, ll. 36-37)

Drengen er følelsesmæssigt knyttet til hunden
Til trods for, at drengen udviser en ubetænksom adfærd ved at stikke græsstrå ind imod hundens øjne for at få den til at åbne dem, er han alligevel kærlig over for den. Han børster en myre væk fra dens snude og er tydeligvis følelsesmæssigt knyttet til den:
“The boy leans forward and sweeps an ant off the dog's shoulder” (p. 3, l. 44).

Faren skubber til drengen
Faren skubber til drengen, da han står og fortæller Stolpestad, at hunden ikke var død, da han havde skudt den. Dette viser, at han vil have, at drengen skal vågne op og følge med i samtalen, der ellers er meget hård for en niårig dreng at lytte til. Det virker hårdt og brutalt af faren at tvinge ...

The ending and the title (Slutningen og titlen)
Politimanden sammenlignes med en tyv
I novellens slutning står der, at Stolpestad, der ellers er politimand, står på græsplænen som en tyv. Dette betyder, at hans selvværd er røget helt ned og, at han har mistet den identitet som lovhåndhæver og autoritetsperson, der ligger i hans job som politimand:
“And in the silence, in the darkness, you stand like a thief on the lawn” (p. 5, ll. 159-160).

Trækker sig tilbage
Stolpestad står først og kigger på huset, men så trækker han sig tilbage og bakker vaklende væk fra verandaen og lyset i vinduerne hen til kanten af skoven, hvor der er mørke. Dette viser, at situationen er blevet for meget for Stolpestad og, at han bare vil flygte fra det hele:
“wavering as you back gently away from the porch, away from the light of the windows, away until you're gone at the edge of the woods, a piece of dark within the dark” (p. 5, ll. 161-162).

Kvinden kalder på ”noget”
Allersidste sætning i novellen angiver, at Stolpestads kone Sheila kalder på noget ud i natten. Der står ikke, at hun kalder på ”nogen”, hvilket ville ...

Message (Budskab)
En skønlitterær tekst kan tolkes på mange forskellige måder. Vi giver her
vores bud på, hvad budskabet i novellen kan være:
- At man ikke bare skal lade livet passere forbi én
- At man skal tage aktivt stilling til det liv, man lever
- At man ikke skal gå med til noget, man ikke bryder sig om at gøre
- At man skal holde fast ved den, man er og ikke lade sig presse af
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