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STORY 18 - 'THE UNTOLD LIE'
The story is set at a farm three miles north of Winesburg.
Ray Pearson - A quiet nervous man of fifty, who works at a farm.
Hal Winters - Ray's fellow employee, he is a young fellow, the son of the confirmed old reprobate, Windpeter Winters.
Protagonist - Ray Pearson is the main character in this story, as his way of thinking and adjusting himself to his circumstances has been described.
Antagonist - For Ray his wife is an antagonist since she is always cribbing and finding faults in him.
Climax - The climax is reached when Ray decides to tell Hal not to marry his girlfriend. He feels that he should save his friend from the danger of marriage.
Outcome - The outcome however is anticlimactic. Before Ray can say anything, Hal says that he has agreed to marry the girl, as he wishes to settle down and have kids. At the end, Ray thinks of his own children and wonders whether finally Hal is right in deciding to settle down.
The theme that has been used is the age old one of getting caught in the snares of marriage and forever repenting afterwards. Yet even these snares seem a blessing and a boon to man in certain ways.
The mood in the beginning is stoic with both the men in their own worlds. When Hal's plans of marriage are spoken out certain awkwardness is felt between the two, probably because of their age difference and personality itself. At the end, the atmosphere becomes light when Hal announces his decision to marry and Ray actually considers it not a bad idea altogether.
Ray Pearson and Hal Winters are farmhands, working on a farm. Ray is a quiet and nervous man, married with children and quite serious in his demeanor. Hal on the other hand is the bad one, forever getting into trouble.
One day, Hal, and Ray are at work on the fields. Ray is quiet and contemplative thinking about his marriage and its burden. His wife is forever nagging at him and a spirit of protest arises in him. At the same moment, Hal begins talking earnestly to him, and reveals that he had got a girl, Nell Gurther, pregnant and didn't know what to do about it. He lays the problem on to Ray, asking him for guidance.
Ray does not reply and just walks off. But when he hears his wife again cribbing and complaining he decides to warn Hal from committing the same mistake that he has committed, the one of marriage. Marriage is a mistake, which pulls you down, and he decides to tell this to Hal. But by the time he reaches Hal, Hal has already made his decision to marry Nell and settle down. Ray has nothing to say to this now, and as he goes his way home, a memory of pleasant evenings spent with his children is recollected and he wonders whether Hal has finally made the right decision after all.
Ray and Hal are outwardly two entirely different characters with different ways of thinking. Ray is quieter, steadier, and more serious, while Hal is known to be a bad one, a fighter, and a woman chaser. Yet these two are thrown together while 2working at the fields.
Hal's plea for help from Ray is earnest and immediate. Having got a girl pregnant, he doesn't know what step to take next, whether to marry her or to ditch her. When Ray thinks about this, he recollects his own marriage, and sees the bitterness that has seeped in. His wife is now a nag, forever putting him down and scolding him. His own marriage pushes him to forewarn Hal about not taking such a step. 'She went into the woods with him because she wanted to go. What he wanted she wanted. Why should Hal pay.'
The decision is however been taken out of his hands. Hal has already decided to marry Nell and settle down. He ever looks happy and content with his decision.
The story is about the intricacies of marriage. What it seems from outside is not necessarily what is truly depicted. Ray is confused about his own marriage. When comparing it to his earlier days his marriage seems a sham and his wife just a nag. But on hearing Hal's decision for marriage, feelings of disquietude envelops him once more. His recollection of his young children is pleasant and so now he is glad that he has not told Hal a lie.
Ray Pearson - Ray is a quiet, timid old man, weighed down by his life and his problems. He has a sharp-featured, sharp-voiced wife, who has made his life quite a misery by constantly nagging at him and putting him down as a good for nothing.
Ray's relation with Hal is perfunctory, since they are extremely unlike each other. But when asked for some advice, Ray has no choice but to give it to him. Ray plans to dissuade Hal from marrying since his own married life is a sham. But on hearing Hal's decision to go ahead with the marriage, Ray's own recollection of a once happy marriage makes him rejoice for Hal.
Hal Winters - Hal is always considered as a bad one, a woman-chaser, and a fighter. This can be probably reasoned out, considering his background of his father who too was a rogue.
Hal gets a girl into trouble, and is now considering whether to marry her or not. Surprisingly he makes his own decision and decides to marry, settle down, and raise kids. Hal probably is now tired of his way ward ways and wants to reform. Whether this is possible or not, is not mentioned and the reader is made to hope for the best for Hal.
PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
The story begins with Ray and Halís relationship. The climax is when Ray realizes that he cannot let Hal fall into the trap of a loveless marriage like he himself had fallen. However the outcome is that he loses his nerve, and finally resigns himself to the fact that Hal might get some happiness like he too had got earlier in his marriage.
The story is rolled out evenly. It entirely takes place in the matter of a day. The characters are seen working in the morning and it is at dusk that Hal voices his decision to marry.
THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS
The theme is the age-old values of the institution of marriage, which however gets warped with time. Marriage is put out to be the right decision at that time but starts deteriorating as time elapses. The need to forewarn a fellow mate has been beautifully captured. But as it always happens, the decision to marry at that time seems the right one always. At the end, Ray's resignation of Hal's decision, as well as his acceptance of the good points of marriage also shows human nature at its best.
Describe the difference in personality between Ray Pearson and Hal Winters.