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The Third Bank of the River

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The Third Bank of the River

    Confusion, embarrassment, and guilt can all be found throughout João Guimarães Rosa's short story "The Third Bank of the River." Rosa forces the reader to analyze his words and delve deeply into the hidden meanings behind them. Upon first glance, a story unfolds of a father who seemingly abandons his family and chooses to live out the remainder of his life rowing a small boat back and forth along a river. There are circumstances leading up to this behavior, which new insight to the author's psychological meaning.


The story develops through the narration of one of the children in the family. His recollection of the days which lead to his father's absence brings a clear image of the family structure he knew when he was a child. The narrator describes his father as "dutiful, orderly," and "straightforward"(200). He is quick to point out, however, who has the final say in the household: "It was mother, not father, who ruled the house" (200). When the father decides to order a boat, made specifically for him, the mother "carr...

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...the sea. This bank belongs to an entirely different world. Rosa has found a way for the father to exist, yet not exist, within the family. He is connected to his family and weighs heavily upon their minds even though he is a part of an entirely different world. He has discovered this link by establishing a "third bank of the river."


Work Cited

Rosa, João Gumarães. "The Third Bank of the River." Trans. William Grossman. Angles of Vision. Ed. Arthur W. Biddle and Toby Fulwiler.  New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1992. 200-203.

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