Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Ledge

I found this story to be very interesting the way it develops the characters so well, even for such a short story. However, I am rather confused to what the major theme of the story is. I mean is this a tale of man versus nature, a man's relationship with his family, or something deeper? I could not find an answer to this question, no matter how many times I reread certain passages. Nevertheless, I think it is undeniable based on past reviews of the story, that "The Ledge" has something to do with man and his place in nature. So, I beg the following question of the class: what is the underlying theme that makes this short story analysis of man's place in nature?

4 comments:

Leigh Kalbacker said...

I think that this was a very fascinating short story for a few reasons. In the beginning, the focus is very much so on the people in the story. The man and wife, the husband's relatives, the nephews...and nature is presented as a small part of the story, but it is one of which the characters are very aware. Struggling to keep the cold winter air out of the house is very much on the minds of those who had to get out of bed. The reader, however, dosen't see this as a major point by any means a this point in the story. The trio heads out on the boat, dressed for cold weather, but the superficial focus is still on the human problems--no tobacco, drinking alcohol instead, the nephew can't swim. Finally, the three find themselves in in this inevitably horrible situation. The fisherman did not even remotely forsee this happening; however, the tide never stops. Nature dosen't change for three stranded people. Even their rescue shots prove futile. Taking the power of nature for granted, the fisherman and the two boys learn a hard lesson. This was a rather long-winded way of saying that yes, I think that this story is very much so about man vs. nature, but it is also impressive that this style of writing was even occurring. Nature was underlying the whole basic plot, and in the end, it takes the forefront and the reader learns to never disregard the fact that we are just "puny humans."

Max L said...

What makes this story so intriguing is its ambiguity. The theme of the "The Ledge" is that the relationship between man and nature is unclear. This relationship may be adversarial, but it can also be reverent and humbling; both man and nature are vulnerable to the other. I do think that there is a message in the stubbornness of the Fisherman; on the one hand the reader finds this trait admirable for Fisherman's stoicism in the face of death, but on the other hand his gruff character is the whole reason he decided to press on and hunt on a day where the weather was colder than expected. Like many of the topics we cover in this class, there is no clear answer about what "The Ledge" says about man's place in nature and this can be frustrating. However, it would be irresponsible to claim that a single answer or interpretation exists. The ambiguity of the moral of the story reflects the ambiguity of the human relationship to nature.

-Max

Timothee Neron-Bancel said...

I think what is important to notice is that the fisherman gives himself up to Nature. He doesn't try to swim to the closest island because he knows all to well that he will die of hypothermia. He doesn't scare his son and puts him on his shoulder i the hopes that it might save him from the cold water. The fisherman knows Nature, knows that he shouldn't find it and gives himself up peacefully.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Leigh, you've got it right. We can certainly be more specific than "man vs. nature" when exploring the intentions of our story's theme; for while The Ledge is obviously that, so too does it speak to the false security of human confidence. Our daily routines, for example, can become so familiar to us that we are eventually lulled into complacency. We become so sure of of Life's terrain, of our own footing upon it, that we gradually become vulnerable to its dangers. We must never, therefore, consider ourselves so wise, so practiced or strong, that we can afford to shirk away the common elements of our days. For the dangers of these elements are always there. And what defeats us, in the end, is not these at all, but ourselves for losing sight of them.