The short story “Joy Ride” by Toni Pivac is structured around a simple event: Whata, a young boy, decides to hide in his uncle’s car to surprise him. The story takes a different turn when the uncle does not stop where Whata expects him to but drives far away to a burial ground. 

The story begins in media res, with Whata telling his older brother, Hemi, about his plan: “‘Uncle's packing up the ute. Think he's going round the corner to drop off Aunty's cakes. Let's hop on the back and go for a ride!’ He was trying his best to hide his excitement. It wasn't working” (ll. 8-10).

Several foreshadowing elements suggest that Whata’s family is dealing with a sensitive issue. For example, Whata mentions that “there were always heaps of [flowers] in their house now” (ll. 23-24) and that the house is filled with visitors (ll. 24-25). He also mentions that “the lawn nee...

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