Eden Robinson's Traplines and Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Watcher”: Tough Decisions with Profound Implications
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Eden Robinson and Guy Vanderhaeghe both present stories about young boys faced with life altering choices in “Traplines” and “The Watcher,” respectively. Charlie tells the surface story of “The Watcher”, while readers get a sense of the deep story in his thoughts about the dysfunctional home he resides in. “Traplines” is presented by Will, although readers get some sense of the deep story, the narrator uses short and simple sentences, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation about what truly is happening in the story. While on the surface “Traplines” and “The Watcher” are both coming of age stories about a young boy faced with a tough decision, the narrators each go through deeper stages of their story in different ways.
Charlie and Will are both beyond their years, Charlie is only 11 and Will only a teen, yet they have both been exposed to unconventional situations that have caused them both to grow up very quickly. Charlie has been sick his whole life with a bad chest that he inherited from his mother, with no source of entertainment he resorted to people watching in his family home. His mother becomes ill and he is shipped off to an even more dysfunctional home. Having a blunt grandmother, Mrs. Bradley, a mentally ill aunt, Evelyn, and her manipulative boyfriend, Thompson, as his role models, it is no wonder that Charlie is not the brightest of children. Neither Charlie nor Will have promising outlooks on life. With alcoholism, drug use, and abuse present in his home, Will has no source of a mentor in his family. Will, unlike Charlie, does have a place to turn to; when tensions rise he can go to the Smythe’s. The Smythe’s offer Will a warm and loving place for him to escape to, completely unlike his family home.
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...tions. Charlie killing Stanley is proof that the surface of “The Watcher” is shown through Charlie’s actions, while the deeper meaning is shown through his thoughts. “Traplines” moves through surface and deep story in a much more discrete way, with readers having to interpret the deeper meaning in their own way, this is proven with the open-endedness of the story without a final decision being stated. Both the surface and underlying stories of “Traplines” and “The Watcher” are very similar, but the stories move between the ways of reading in a very different manner.
Mitchell, Ken, Thomas Chase, and Michael Trussler, eds. The Wascana Anthology of Short
Fiction. Winnipeg: Hignell Printing Limited, 2004. Print.
Robinson, Eden. “Traplines.” Mitchell, Chase, and Trussler. 378-395.
Vanderhaeghe, Guy. “The Watcher.” Mitchel, Chase, and Trussler. 418-443.