Monday, November 29, 2010

Red Ryder Nails The Hammond Kid


The plot of the story revolves around the sign "Disarm the Toy Industry" (page 473 & 475) that the main character sees. This sign makes Ralphie think back and reflect upon his childhood. The specific memory that is evoked from's Ralphie's past was a specific Christmas where all he wanted was a "Red Ryder BB gn with a special sight and a compass in the stock with a sundial" (page 486). The plot of the story moves pretty quickly from Ralphie's adult environment back to his experience as a child. The diction during the flashback is much different from the diction during the small portion of the story that is Ralphie's adulthood. The author's word choice during the beginning is more complex and modern because of the certain point in time and because of Ralphie's age. Sentences that show Ralphie's placement in time as well as his maturity include "...out-of-work seal trainers, borderline bookies, ex-Opera divas, and panhandlers trying hard to look like Madison Avenue account men just getting out of the cold for a few minutes" (page 473). Another example of maturity and knowledge embedded in the flashback is the sentence that contains " father had taken me and my brother out in the Graham-Paige to 'pick up a bottle of wine'" (page 489). This shows that Ralphie now knows that his father did this to hide the secret of Santa's existence from him. "Maybe that was it! My mind reeled with the realization that maybe Santa did know how rotten I had been..." (page 486). shows youth and innocence in the middle of the flashback. The progression of time during the flashback also goes by quickly. A month goes by in the flashback throughout only twenty pages.

Point of View

The story is told in first person point of view by the main character, known as Ralphie during his younger years. Ralphie gives the reader an inside view of a Christmas experience and memory from his past through the incorporation of a flashback. The context of the flashback contains both childish and innocent thoughts and word choice as well as mature and developed thoughts and word choice. Both sides of Ralphie, himself as a boy and himself as a man, are shown throughout the story. His child side is shown when all he can say while visiting Santa is "Uhh...ahhh..." and "yeah" (page 486). However, when Ralphie describes the time that he knocked out his basement window with a sled runner, he uses the phrase "...and then compounding the idiocy by denying it when all the evidence was incontrovertible". No child would speak with language that is that advanced. Also, In random spots during the flashback, the author staggers various present thoughts from the main character. While describing waiting in line to see Santa, Ralphie talks about a time when he is older. "I was well into my twenties before I finally have up on the Easter bunny,..." (page 484). The point of view is unique because it incorporates Ralph, or "Ralphie", as a whole by incorporating various parts of his life.

There are multiple settings in this story. The first setting is Ralph sitting and eating in an H & H at a table with an older lady. The beginning of the story takes place in Mahattan. The interaction and conversation between these two leads into the flashback of Ralph's particular Christmas during his childhood. The setting changes during Ralph's flashback. As he goes back in time, Ralph goes back to his hometown in Indiana. The settings during this flashback in Indiana get even more specific. These include Ralphie's house (i.e. "living room", "bedroom", "kitchen") <>, the school ("Warren G. Harding School") <>, and "Goldblatt's" <>, the toystore where Ralphie visits Santa. Even though the flashback and the present part of the story are in different parts of the country, they both take place during the Christmas and winter season. The setting is important because Ralph's environment and surroundings in Manhattan on that particular day bring him back to a similar environment in the past during his life.

The author uses the method of indirect characterization in this short story. The characters through their actions and reactions to certain events. Characteristics of the main character, Ralphie, are also shown through Ralphie's interactions and conversations with other minor characters that surround him. Ralphie's inner thoughts that are stated in the text allow the reader to understand Ralphie's true characteristics and qualities. Ralphie's two different character forms, his adult life and his childhood, are both displayed through these inner thoughts incorporated in the story. For example, Ralphie is visiting Santa in the toystore during the flashback, but the author adds in a thought from Ralphie looking back on the experience from the present. He states, "Even now there are times when I'm not so sure about the stork" (page 484). These types of quotes show that Ralphie has grown up and now looks back on the memory. Another example of this during Ralphie's youth when the author adds the internal thought "(A lie)" in between the sentences "Even though Flick is getting one" and "I guess...I guess...I sure would like a Sandy Andy, I guess" (page 480). These quotes show how Ralphie was persistent about his dream of a BB gun. They show how clever and witty Ralphie was as a kid to get what he wanted for Christmas that year.
I think that there are a few themes that can be applied to this story. One theme that I thought of is the universal joy of Christmas and the timeless memories that come with it. Even as a man who has grown up, Ralphie still can call to mind "...another Christmas, in another time, in another place, and a gun" (page 475). In an instant, his mind can be taken back to a happy time during his life that revolved around the memory of Christmas. Another theme that could be applied to this story is the innocence of childhood. Throughout the flashback, Ralphie references the classic childhood experience Christmas. These include visiting Santa, wishing for that one particular gift that we can't live without, and buying and wrapping presents for our families. The two themes of unforgettable childhood memories and the joyful season of Christmas create an enjoyable and lighthearted story that makes me ready for Christmas :)

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