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propaganda.net : Skole & Jobb
"Wild Duck" (R. Gunesekera)Skriv ut Utskrift
Engelsk tekst om boka "Wild Duck" skrevet av Romesh Gunesekera.
Engelsk - Anmeldelse (bok, film...)Forfatter:



The transition from teenager to man has always been a special event in the history of mankind. In the past when a boy was on the threshold to manhood, he would usually be sent out to kill an animal of some sort, to prove his maturity. Even though we live in a civilized society today, this ancient ritual is still being used. However, it has been accommodated during the years to suit our modern lives. We don't think about it, but if a father takes his son out for hunting or fishing, this is a reflection of the old ritual. The boy looks up to his father, and tries to impersonate his every move and follow his advice. In other words, the impersonation of the father becomes a "practise" for manhood. If he is successful in shooting an animal or catching a fish, he has, in a sense, proved his maturity to his father. Wild Duck deals with the selfsame topic, but Romesh Gunesekera has brought a feminine touch to it.

The first ten lines of the story actually contain quite a lot of information. First of all, the two main characters are mentioned: "Are you ready?" he asked his son. From this simple quote, we can establish the relationship between the two characters as we draw the conclusion that they are, in fact, father and son. Secondly, a description of the scene is given. The story is initiated by a statement: "They will come from over there," the man pointed at a red volcanic hill. Hearing this, we know that the scene takes place outside because of the word "hill", and reading the following lines, the location of the two characters is established: They sat facing each other in a small motionless boat with the oars tucked in. Two persons sitting in a boat, in a lake in a wilderness one late afternoon. Judging from the scenery, the two characters are situated in a rather isolated location. Thirdly, we can also figure out what these two persons are doing as they both had guns resting across their knees. The fact that they've brought guns with them in stead of fishing poles enables us to exclude the possibility that they're on a fishing trip, unless they're planning on shooting the fish, which is rather odd in my opinion. No, they're of course planning to shoot teal. In other words, they're on a hunting trip.



Sitting in a small boat with another human being is a situation well suited for communication. This is not the case though. The boy hardly says anything. The thoughts of the father constitute the story, and these thoughts are interrupted by tiny passages of actual dialog between him and his son. What can be derived from this? Well, to some extend, the "muteness" of the boy indicates his mental condition. He is not the kind of person who is eager to discuss his points of view or anything for that matter. His father expresses how he feels about this: The boy didn't waste words. He sometimes wished his son was bigger - taller and wider - with a bigger tongue; maybe that might have made him talk more, be more open and sharing his view of the way things were. He wanted the boy to get the feel for the whole world and their place in it. You have to move out of your corner. In other words, the father is sorry about his son's inability to discuss his feelings. The father has tried to open him up by saying "You have to move out of your corner" but apparently this didn't work. My theory is that the father might have taken his son out on this trip to try and establish a discussion, a man-to-man talk about life or other matters. The "wall of silence" between the father and his son taken in consideration, I think they have a problem of some kind they need to sort out, and the source to this problem is the fact that his son had grown up under a wretched regime; the boy had no idea of the hopes of his father's and the compromises by which they had been eroded. Their lives were moulded by a dictatorship of vanity. Apparently, they have experienced living under the iron fist of a dictator. Of course this has affected their lives, but in opposition to his father, the son has grown up under this "wretched regime". In some way this has caused the boy to look up to the dictator in stead of his own father and has "moulded" his life and childhood in a negative way. The boy desires total control. Nothing left to chance just like a dictator would. The father is aware of how his own son has turned out to be, but has almost given up on him as he realises that time passed too quickly. The boy was growing fast. The years slipped by even as he reached out..


You might say that the father is partly responsible for the problem, as he gave the gun of the deposed dictator to his son. He might as well just have told his son that he would make a great replacement for the dictator, giving him such a horrid gift. The dictator used the gun to dispose of early opponents through fictitious acts of heroism. and now that the gun has fallen into the hands of an innocent boy, the malicious history of the gun has literally been passed on from father to son, causing the son to act the way he does, as if he has "inhaled" the spirit of the gun. I'll get back to this topic later on.

As I mentioned earlier, the father and his son are on a hunting trip, and they're waiting for the teal to fly by. This happens on page 4 and the father concludes that they're flying too much high as he misses the teal after having fired several shots at them. This doesn't prevent his son from trying to shoot them though, and unlike the father he manages to hit one of the teal. In fact, he hits the leader of a formation flying towards them which is actually rather symbolic, as the gun he uses belonged to a leader (the before mentioned dictator). By shooting the leader of the formation, the boy expresses his dislike towards the dictator who used to own the gun he now owns. Next, the father has an interesting thought about destiny: Last Sunday he had taken his rifle apart, cleaned and oiled every inch of it. At the same time the teal, with his victim among them, would have taken to the skies: bird and bullet propelled towards each other by some inner compulsion. The man imagined his son squeezing the trigger when he had already in a sense hit the duck; the intersection of the two flight paths - bullet and bird - was preordained in their two lives, it was only a matter of inking in the lines. He felt a delicious sense of destiny. What the father says here contradicts his previous thoughts about this topic as he thought that nothing is ever certain. Now he suddenly thinks that it was certain that the bullet would hit the duck. However, the boy doesn't hit the duck, he merely "scares" it to fall to the ground and break a wing. The father was right after all: nothing is ever certain.

In the end the boy agrees to take care of the handicapped duck, which is the turning point of the story. From the very beginning the story has "warmed up" to the point where a duck would be killed, but like I said in the beginning, Romesh Gunesekera has brought a feminine touch to the story which finds expression in the boy's urge to look after the duck. The boy started out being very determined to kill and ends up being like a mother to his ex-target.

What started out as a hunting trip has actually become an emotional development of the boy, and the father is happy about the change of his son: Over the months he had seen his son's face being shaped by the wooden stock of that gun; he found he was now relieved the gun had gone. Like I mentioned earlier, the boy acted as if he had "inhaled" the spirit of the gun, inherited the spirit of its former owner. The father has actually seen how the gun has affected his son over the months, and now that his son has thrown it away allowing the feminine part of him to prevail, the father is grateful to discover a lost fragment of his past gleam in the boy. That lost fragment is the element of feminism that all men possess. This brings me to the article The Limits of Masculinity by Andrew Tolson. He basically says that the mother in the family stands between him (the son) and his father, and colours his vision of the masculine world.. That's why the boy suddenly undergoes the emotional change in the end of the story and becomes a "nurturing mother". The mother in a family is a feminine counterweight to the masculine part of the family. She brings balance to the family and to the child's emotional development. Even though a boy's father is an important part of his life and development, the mother is equally important because she makes sure that the boy also grows en emotional side of his personality.




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