Structure

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Beginning

The short story follows a linear plot structure and can be divided into three parts: In the beginning Nick, his father and Uncle George are on the lake, heading for the camp; in the middle Nick’s father performs a Caesarean on a Native American woman, and they discover the suicide of the woman’s husband; in the end Nick and his father are back on the lake, heading home in the morning sun.

The story starts in medias res which means that the reader is thrown directly into the action: “At the lake shore there was another rowboat drawn up. The two Indians stood wa…

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Middle

The middle part of the short story takes place inside the shanty in the camp. As the characters enter the shanty, several elements in the story create a sense of tension. Especially the woman’s screams of pain and the primitive surgery without anaesthetic. On top of this, the reader may be fearing for the young woman’s life as she has been in labor for two days and is now facing a C-section in the wilderness without any anaesthetic. This, too, creates a dar…

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Ending

The short story ends the same way it began: With Nick and his father in a boat on the lake. Symbolically, the boat trip may be interpreted as a journey of transformation for young Nick. In this story, he is faced with the contrast of life and death for the first time. Although it makes him reflect and ask his fath…

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