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Analysis of "On the Antler" - Comp 101 Paper Example - Facts about Annie Proulx

Updated on May 21, 2018
"On the Antler" is set in rural New England, a common setting for Annie Proulx's writing.
"On the Antler" is set in rural New England, a common setting for Annie Proulx's writing. | Source

Summary of "On the Antler"

“On the Antler” by E. Annie Proulx is a short story (found in "Heart Songs" an anthology made up of eleven short stories) that focuses on the changes in a community and the relationship of two of the original inhabitants of a northern New England village. The traditional land of the area has been systematically sold to wealthy urban citizens while the original farmers have moved to the city looking for work. The theme of the short story is that of long-festering hatred morphing into revenge.

The stories' two main characters are Hawkwheel, the quiet lover of books, and enthusiast tradition woodsman, and Strong the owner of the local store, and mean-spirited prankster. Strong regularly plays “pranks” on Hawkwheel growing up in their childhood, which unfailingly landed the young boy in trouble.

An important note is why Strong is so mean. At the age of fifteen, he lost his family to food poisoning and now suffers from survivor's guilt. The only reason he was saved from the poison that night was due to a sexual tryst at the time of dinner that night.

Heart Songs by Annie Proulx
Heart Songs by Annie Proulx

Strong and Hawkwheel never grew out of this unbalanced relationship, and as their community loses land, jobs, and a little bit of dignity to the wealthy individuals moving into town, Hawkwheel and Strong’s relationship becomes even more stressed.

Hawkwheel has a "secret" hunting and fishing area in the local forest, here he feels safe and at peace. However, while Strong is selling off his own family’s history by selling his family’s heirlooms to the invading out-of-towners, he is also sharing local information to them. This information includes the location of Hawkwheel’s secret places.

This final cruelty culminates in Hawkwheel’s revenge of destroying all of the Strong’s family books that he had bought from his store.

Themes in "On the Antler"

"On the Antlers" deals with themes of revenge and life in rural America, and many times, how the two affect each other. Deep-seated revenge can have a powerful effect as it is carried through generations to affect the later lives of characters.

Bill Stong’s hatred for Leverd Hawkheel is one which was passed down by his father and not because of a personal experience. Even though Leverd Hawkheel has motive he reigns in his anger until the end. The final act affects both parties negatively like a classic revenge tale.

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"On the Antlers" Conclusion

Hawkwheel’s revenge was two-fold. He got revenge on Strong by destroying some of the last remaining items of his family, and he played out revenge on the invaders by destroying something they collected, but only valued monetarily and not for information that was held within the books.

About the Author- Who is Annie Proulx?

Annie Proulx has won both the the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as well as the US National Book Award for Fiction.
Annie Proulx has won both the the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as well as the US National Book Award for Fiction. | Source

'Write about what you'd like to know."

— Annie Proulx

Did you know?

Annie Proulx may be most well known for her short story "Brokeback Mountain" which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning movie.

About Annie Proulx

  • Annie was born on August 22, 1935, in Connecticut, has spent much of her life in the US Northeast, but currently live in Seattle Washington.
  • She very much dislikes interviews.
  • Has been publishing short fiction since her 20s.
  • Began as a freelance journalist.
  • Believes in writing what you don't know, saying "I don't much like the kind of book that is nothing but interior self-examination. I think part of the fault lies with the bad advice writers have been getting for years... Sometimes what you know is pretty boring."

Annie Proulx talks about "Brokeback Mountain"

© 2015 Haley


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