Structure

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Beginning

The story begins in medias res, in the middle of events. We are introduced to Kelley, the main character, through a backstory. We learn that Kelley is a student at Stanford (l. 6) and that she usually hitchhikes from her home to Stanford. Her parents, however, are not aware of this, as she knows they would not approve:

Her father would drive her to the station on the first day of term, when she would hang around on the platform until she was certain he was on his way back home. She would then walk the couple of miles to the freeway. (ll. 3-5)

The exposition continu…

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Middle

In the rising action, several cars stop and offer Kelley a ride: two young men, with empty beer cans on the back seat of their car (ll. 22-23), a trucker (l. 25), and a couple with a German shepherd in the back seat (ll. 26-27). Kelley refuses them and tells the couple that she is allergic to dogs. A backstory tells us that Kelley has a cocker spaniel called Daisy back at home (ll. 29-30).

Kelley then spots a pre-war Studebaker (a vintage American car) approaching, raises her thumb, and accepts the ride because the driver meets all her requirements: “over sixty, wearing a wedding ring, well-spoken and polite” (ll. 39-39).

Through another backstory, we learn that Kelley’s supervisor has told her many times that, to become a writer, she would need to get some experience of life, and especially learn about other people’s lives (ll. 45-46).

The driver’s name is John and he has studied English literature ( l. 58) at Stanford as well (l. 54). Kelley shares that her favourite novel is The Grapes of Wrath, which she first read when she was 12 years old (l. 66), which creates another backstory. John declares himself imp…

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Ending

John and Kelley arrive at Stanford, and she thanks him for the ride and the opportunity to hear his life story.

John tells her that he enjoyed their discussion, and adds: “ ‘hope I live long enough to read your first novel, especially as you were kind enough to say how much you’d enjoyed my work, which, if I remember, you first read when you were only twelve years old.’ ” (ll. 152-154).

John’s words imply that he is, in fact, John Steinbeck, t…

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