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Wood Grouse

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Essay ”Wood Grouse”

Life is an indefinable thing, which many humans doesn’t value. In the post-modern century everybody has an extremely busy weekday, and unfortunately many individuals forget to live their life completely. We don’t see the beauty in the small items that surround us every day, but even worse is the fact that we don’t appreciate the creatures, who life in the lovely nature. But if something unexpected or horrendous happens to someone special, our minds changes. We start to enjoy everything that surround us, since we cannot control the life that is ahead of us, we try to find at home that associates to where the life took place, nature. This is exactly what the short story “Wood Grouse” deals with, which was published in 1996 by the American author David Gutterson.

The short story takes place in Canada, where we are introduced to two brothers who are climbing mountains. One of them is Gary, who has been in the Vietnam War, which indicates that the story takes place during or right after the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1961 to 1970.

The youngest brother is Bud, who is a very curious and intriguing 15 years old young man. In the weekdays he is just a common boy, who has an ambition to be part of the basketball team something he doesn’t succeed. He wants some excitement in his life, so he can obtain something for his country like his brother used to do as a soldier. He has a strong mentality, for example; that it doesn’t cause any problem when he kills a bird opposite his brother he isn’t influenced by it and is quite proud actually. It is reasonable to believe that this particular mentality is rooted in his game with the rocks, in which he stacks some rocks only to throw other rocks at his towers with the purpose of knowing them over. Perhaps therefore he is rather used to throw rocks at something, and most likely, he did not think about the birds being live animals, he probably saw them as only a part of nature, just like the rocks back at home. He wants to be like his brother, to serve his country with great honour, and this I why his older brother, Gary, won’t speak with him about his time in the Vietnam War, and it frustrates Bud a lot since Gary is like role model for him. “I looked up into a world of blue spruce that rolled on endlessly to a land I dreamed about … now that he was back in America”
The older brother, Gary, is deeply touched by post-traumatic stress that probably comes from his time in the Vietnam War. Opposite his brother, Bud, he is very weak. When it comes to dead an example could be, when they are climbing the mountain and Bud asks about how many lives he has taken in the War and Gary doesn’t response. But instead “he began to cry silently, in a way I hadn’t figured on at all”. He cannot cope with what he has done and seen in Vietnam and perhaps therefore he starts to cry, because when Bud ask he sees a lot of old memories, about dead enemies and maybe also a few of friends that never returned from Vietnam. Gary has, since he returned, gone through a transformation. Before Vietnam he was probably like his brother, a man who didn’t appreciate birds, mountains and nature in general. And this is naturally also why he starts to cry every single time an animal dies, since he learned in Vietnam that it’s an honour to respect everything that it dead. He sees himself in Buds mentality, when he was at his age, a man who wants to be a soldier and obtain something special, but now everything is changed; his perspective on life, his opinion about dead and living and his hope for his brother. Since his time in war he has learn to enjoy all the smalls things that surrounds them in the mountains; “Aren’t they beautiful”

In the end Gary finishes his transformation. When they are lying on top of the mountain he feels free, he stops thinking about all the dilemmas that pursues him normally. They talk about several different escapes opportunities. The chance to replace the earth with Saturn as their home and a new theory about space that Gary has read in a book recently. Obvious is Gary is the one, who is most interested in these improbable theories, but Bud sees Gary as his idol, so he is also quite engulfed. When Gary sleeps on top of the mountain Bud mentality matures, because “Gary had seen things I hadn’t” . At first he didn’t recognize what Gary had seen, because he was so overwrought, but later he starts to consider all these terrible things he has done and he realises that throwing rocks, killing birds isn’t something to be proud of. And suddenly he feels ashamed by his behaviour. He realized that dead and life is something that must be treated with deference.

The short story "Wood Grouse" touches many themes. The most obvious is death and life, since Gary cannot cope with was he conducted in Vietnam, so he has a tendency to cry. Another theme could be escaping or starting a new life. Perhaps the reason, why they are clamping mountains in exactly Canada is to run away from all theses problems and memories that accumulate. When he is away from his home and just living in the nature. He starts to resign with was he has done, and that he needs to cope with everything on earth if he wants to have a wonderful life, because he cannot change or forget Vietnam, but he still needs to have a prober life.

In conclusion,”Wood Grouse” essentially focuses on the life after a difficult period, and how it is to try to have the ability to move forward. Additionally is the entourage described as being some of the biggest problematic factors if you suffer from post-traumatic stress after a war?

Furthermore the short story is trying to tell that you cannot stop living just because of your past. You have to preserve your strength and courage, but you need to make some decision so you have a chance to experience happiness again. You have to follow the intuition you have, if you want to have a decent life.

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