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I do apologize about the length here.  I tried to do a cut, but LJ is just all screwed up right now and I can't even begin to figure out how to fix it.

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My thoughts were all over while reading this story, so I answered each question as it came to me – not necessarily in order.  Reading back over them, I can see my thoughts evolving (or devolving as the case may be) the further I delved into the story:

+ Comparisons to "The Death Mask of Pancho Villa"?
In the previous story, the narrator and his friend had grown apart and were unlikely to share as many crazy adventures as they once had.  In this story, the insanity has yet to meet its end.  Also, this story was narrated by the one friend who was least likely to grow out of such behavior, whereas “Death Mask” was narrated by the other side.

+ What's the role of setting here?
It started out fairly benign… almost magical.  As the story, and the drinking, progressed, however, it became more and more malevolent.  Perhaps it was meant to lull us into a false sense of security – just two old friends fishing, what harm could there be in that?  Then the ploys begin to be revealed… disable the car, move the bonfire by hand (no mention of getting burned?), steal horses and take them out into the surf to drown?!?  The idyllic setting became more and more terrifying with each paragraph.

+ What does the story say about marriage?
Maybe I’m reading my own life into this, but I believed it was saying that life is best spent sharing everything with one very special person who really cares about you and not just themselves.  The narrator was manipulating Kirby.  Kirby should have been more understanding about the dogs and cared for them both as he cared for Tricia.  Tricia had every right to be angry and Kirby shouldn’t have thrown his little passive-aggressive tantrums by ignoring her dog and then running off on some foolish, and possibly deadly, adventure with his crazy friend.

+ What do you make of the last line?
I think the narrator was putting the responsibility of fear and caution onto the poor horses!  Or maybe he thought it was a perfect scheme to get his friend out deeper into the ocean so they could drown together.  I find it interesting that this story is written from a perspective of looking back, and yet it ends rather abruptly with no indication that they ever got home.

+What stereotype comes up for you when you think of two men fishing?
I remember a Sunday Morning comic my Dad once cut out and kept.  I believe it was “Rick O’Shay.”  One of the characters was “fishing” – he had his pole propped up and a line in the water, but instead of watching for a bite, he was lying back on the grass with his cowboy hat over his eyes.  Another character walks up and asks if the fish are biting… he says they are not.  The second character asks what bait he’s using… he says he’s not using ANY bait, because “I don’t want any fish botherin’ me while I’m fishin’.”  I think most men fish as an excuse to sit around, drink beer, shoot the sh*t, escape the chaos of everyday life and just enjoy nature for a while… not that any of those reasons are necessarily bad ones.

+Did the men in this story ever feel afraid?
I did not sense any true fear while reading this story.  Truth be told, I didn’t even sense any real CAUTION… I think the characters were both too drunk to be cautious.


+What do you think of the voices and actions of the men? Who do they remind you of? What literary techniques does the author use to provide the above effect?

All I could think of was that they were drunk and stupid.  This seems to be a recurring theme in the stories we’ve read, so far – is this one of the stereotypes of Texas?  I sure hope not!


Perhaps the narrator was enacting some jealous ploy to have his friend all to himself… perhaps for eternity?  Maybe I’m reading too many dark themes into this story, but that’s all that makes sense to me.

+What role does the ocean play?
All I could think was that it was the tiger waiting at the door.  Either the depths or the currents or the temperature exacerbated by the wind and water or the sand trapping their car or some airborne infection permeating the wounds on their hands… one way or another, their lives were in danger from the ocean.

+Discuss your thoughts on how the opinion of the narrator toward Tricia fluctuates through the story.
I have to wonder if the characters, particularly the narrator, were slowly dying of hypothermia and alcohol abuse.  Their ideas just got wilder and stupider.  Perhaps the narrator’s jealousy was diluted by the alcohol.  Perhaps his memories of her became more pleasant as the temperature dropped.  Considering when this was written, at least a decade before cell phone usage became common, and taking into account that their car was horrendously stuck, perhaps the narrator was calling Tricia to tell her goodbye from his friend – perhaps he knew they would meet an untimely end.

+One paragraph in the story appears to stand out, with a different voice, page 500, "It was like a murder or sin..." What do you make of this paragraph, and the symbolism within?
I found it interesting that they would go to such trouble to catch one fish, mutilate it, toss all but the juiciest bit and use that only to catch another fish – especially when trout are just as likely as redfish to bite a live shrimp.  Perhaps this was a hint to the narrator’s dark intentions.

 

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