An analytical essay of “Crossing” byMark Slouka.
In the text “Crossing”, written in 2009 by MarkSlouka, we follow a father and his son. They are going on a field trip into thewild and mysterious nature. Throughout the story, the father is reminded to similarfield trips he shared with his own father. At some point we discover that thefather is the main character – because the plot of the story is told by thefathers thought and experiences, we get an insight of who the father really is.
The father has some difficulties and they are described as “he hadn’t beenhappy in a while”1.This shows us that the father is going through a rough time, which is caused bya tough break up. The father wants to build a strong connection to his son. Mark Slouka’s use of this special narrative techniquebrings us closer to the father – we discover some of his personal traits, suchas It is obvious that the father cares a lot for his son. The father tries tobe as sweet and caring, we see that when it says, “When the boy walked back tothe car he swung the door open for him, then reached over and pulled the doorshut and bumped out of the empty road”2.We, as readers, does only have access to the thoughts of the father, thereforthe boy is described through the father’s thoughts – as an effect of this, wecreate an image off the son being a sweet and fragile boy who needs thefather’s protection. “He looked over at the miniature jeans, the sweatshirtbunched beneath the seat belt’s strap, the hiking boots dangling off the floorlike weights”3.
because the story is told through the thoughts of the father, the boy isdescribed in a subjective way, therefor the credibility of how the boy in factis, might not be reliable according to reality. Right off the bat the story builds up this tensefeeling because we know something is going to happen. The setting in the storyis very important, and is therefore described very well. The weather and theatmosphere in the wild nature is very well described. “It was raining…”4,”The line of the open sky in the east was razor sharp”5. The story is written and told by a third personnarrator. The present time, which is the moment where the father and the son ison their field trip, is interrupted by flashbacks.
In these flashbacks, thefather recalls his own field trips with his own father. This is not chronologicbecause of the flashbacks, it goes from present-past-present and so on.Therefore, the reader needs to be aware and follow tensely with the progressionof the story with full attention. Even though the father has been on field trip before, thenarrator’s own comments to the story, builds up and fear of what might happen.The surroundings are not what they used to be, the narrator lets the readerknow. “The river was bigger than he remembered it, stronger”6.The river, as well as the title, plays a central part in the story: It isdescribed as bigger, stronger, and deeper water and the danger of the river andthe whole might be the end for the son and the father. At this point in thestory, the whole environment is described very dull and scary, like death.
Thismay show that the crossing in the father’s life is more difficult than thecrossing he went through with his own father. The old rotten barn which they sleep in is describedwith dull and death. In contrast to the dark weather and environment, thenature is described as a place of great experiences. “.and sometimes, if you were quiet, herds ofelk would graze in the meadow at dusk”7.In the beginning of the story, the father doubt that the outcome of this father-sonfieldtrip is positive, “maybe- he could make it right”8.The father at a point of his life where he cannot go back, he needs to dosomething meaningful, this he finds with his son – where he finds his salvage ofhis life. At the very end of the story, the title comes to play.
The title “Crossing” could be and interpretation of the scene; when the father ismaking his son feel calm and relaxed, making him comfortable in the currentsituation. Will the father and the son fall into the river? The narrator’s descriptionof the father’s thoughts concerning the dark environment and the weatherconnect to one big ending. Mark Slouka leaves an open ending, it is up to the readerto decide whether they will die or live? It is up to us to decide whether themission the father set out to complete, did in fact complete. His personalmission of doing something worthy by the time of his end is carried out. Theoutcome of the story will be different whether they make it out alive then thefather would feel like he is back on track, and if not, they will die togetherand be together for ever.
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