Study questions

On this page, we suggest a number of study questions that can help you get started with your analysis of “Last Bridge Burned” by Ron Rash. On the following pages, you can read examples and explanations that can help you answer all of these questions.

  • What is the effect of beginning the short story in medias res?
  • How does it affect the story that most of it is told through a flashback?
  • What is Carlyle's life like? Which issues has he struggled with in the past?
  • What is the woman's situation when she turns up at Carlyle's door?
  • Why does Carlyle decide to help her?
  • How does the story end for the woman? How does it end for Carlyle?
  • What does the setting of the isolated gas station say about Carlyle's life?
  • In which ways does the social setting reveal the struggles of people at the bottom of society?
  • How does the limited knowledge of the third person narrator help build suspense in the story?
  • What is the point of the repeated metaphor of the seesaw? How does it relate to the themes of the story?
  • Does the title refer to Carlyle's situation, the woman's situation, or both?
  • What are the main themes of the story?



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