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Sinclair Ross Ones a Heifer - Book Report/Review Example

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This research is being carried out to evaluate and present a psychological analysis of Sinclair Ross’ short story ‘One’s a Heifer’. This essay explores a great juxtaposition of the psychological and moral connotations of the symbol in this story…
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Sinclair Ross Ones a Heifer
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Download file to see previous pages This research will begin with the statement that “One’s a Heifer” is Sinclair Ross’ moving, and in some ways, a disturbing tale of psychosis, isolation, and twisted love. From a seemingly simplistic plot, Ross weaves a tale with strong moral and psychological connotations. Right from the beginning, an environment of foreboding is purposefully built through a repeated emphasis of the sparseness and the isolation of the prairies. The short sentences and the diction, which operates through a repetition of conjunctives, denoting a limitation in vocabulary itself, emphasize a world of sparseness: ‘Still no one had seen them, still it was cold, still Tim protested what a pool I was’.  Here, the sheer power of language as a medium of truthful representation is questioned and deconstructed right at the beginning of the story. The boy, in search of the lost heifers, is the narrator of the story. He tries to analyze the vast world around him through an almost obsessive employment of personifications: ‘The cattle round the straw stacks stared as we rode as if we were intruders. The fields stared, and the sky stared’. However, it also transports us to a surreal world, where man, animals and natural elements appear to be bound by some hidden and mysterious force of logic that defies linguistic representation. This feeling of intrusion even on common property highlights the strong moral make-up of the boy. This moral dilemma will be one of the biggest psychological struggles that the boy will undergo during his stay with Arthur Vickers:
‘It didn’t seem right, accepting hospitality this way from a man trying to steal your calves, but theft, I reflected, surely justified deceit’.
From such an acute moral sense, guilt remains only a step away. Coupled with a fertile imagination, this guilt returns to haunt him even in the dreams that visit him in the middle of his disturbed sleep. And it is as much this sense of guilt that stops the boy from executing his plans to steal the heifers away by night, as his sense of the impracticality of the act. Still half in his sleep, the boy reflects:
I looked and they were there all right, but Tim came up and said it might be better not to start for home till morning. He reminded me that I hadn't paid for his feed or my own supper yet, and that if I slipped off this way it would mean that I was stealing, too.
The boy’s meeting with Arthur Vickers takes the dimension of the first encounter between innocence and evil. Ross uses a wide range the literary conventions and traditional images to heighten the palpable sense of evil one can associate with Vickers. Death and staleness seem to dominate the world of Arthur Vickers. The skins of coyote drying in the porch, the owl with a broken wing that is fed on rabbit meat every morning by Vickers’ own hands, the sick and nervous colt, even the food is stale: all emphasize the evilness of the character. The night itself heightens the sense of horror:
The wind whistled drearily around the house. The blankets smelled like an old granary.
It is in against this dreary background that the Vickers raves about his isolation and subsequent fall to insanity. The boy is alone with Tim, both move along a landscape that is sparse, and Vickers has this overwhelming sense of isolation. He continually raves about the girl who stayed with him, one he could probably have married, but left. Vickers’ isolation is structurally a culmination of the isolation that pervades the entire setting of the short story.
Much of the attraction of the story comes from the mystery associated with the stall-box. The raging question is what lies inside the stall box. The most common interpretations deduce that the stall box may contain a corpse – the corpse of the woman: Vickers’ companion whom he may have killed or hidden there. It can also be the space where he has kept the girl hidden, live. This is not a surprise, because obsessive love has been a recurrent theme in Sinclair Ross, much like childhood steeped in wonder and imagination. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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