The guilt of the main character tells us of a man who spends his whole life weighing the events of the past with the possibilities of alternative futures. Deeper still is the question presented by the author of whether we are bound by the Sisters Fate or ever had any sort of freedoms to begin with. And if so, what would we even do with such freedoms? Dobson’ use of symbolism within “Kansas” helps to show the reader through the stories confusing twists and turns as the character travels back and forth through his memories and imaginations.
Throughout “Kansas” the main character Is never named, better allowing readers to envision themselves In the shoes of the young man. The mall character starts traveling along an old dolt road during the Dust Bowl period of the Midwest. This road can symbolize many things however I believe it most poignantly accents the transition from the naivety of a young man to the cold, harsh adult realities. Along his ride we also see numerous mentions of a boil, a gun, and vivid descriptions of the farmer himself, first noted in paragraph five.
When we think about these objects, we re confronted with a narrow view of emotions concerning them. First, the boil brings thoughts of disgust and infection to the reader. This symbolizes the man’s emotions toward the event. His memory is like a cancer or disease, unable to heal and growing more and more terrible within him throughout the years. “He kept touching It” as said by the boy, and when we think of this memory we can see that as the boy grew older he “kept touching” upon this memory, Irritating It and bringing about Its growth.
The revolver we see sitting beside the farmer brings fear to the boy, gives us a scope of anger and wrath within the farmer, and leaves us with a general sense of a lack of sophistication, with its rusted barrel and handsprings held together with electrician’s tape. This along with the grizzled demeanor and crude, if not barbaric, behavior of the farmer help us see the base emotions. Fear, hate, rage, wrath and the aura of evil in forms that the boy had likely never witnessed so purely before, help us to see his choices as he is immediately transitioned from boyhood innocence to an angry and violent grown-up world.
The symbols serve also as anchors, helping us as the readers o understand each of the scenarios and to interpret their collective meaning. We see, starting In paragraph five, the boy starts to describe his surroundings. He paints pictures of the landscape, the lovers, the farmer and the other symbols noted before. This story culminates with the boy being dropped off and never learning the resolution of this story. Later, In paragraph twenty-six we see the events revisited. This time however, the ending is radically changed.
The boy takes a blatant stand gallant ten Tatters Turf Ana ten Tarter stimulus, Glenn enamels to ten police Walt no arm done. Twelve paragraphs later we see the story again revisited. This time the story climaxes with the boy telling the police and the police killing the farmer. Finally, in paragraph forty we see a final scene played out as the farmer finds the lovers entangled in an afternoon’s tryst. The farmer attacks, but the boy in defense of the woman is shot twice and presumably dies.
In all of these alternate realities we see three symbols reoccurring in similar fashions; the road, the boil and the revolver. These give us anchorage. They bring about the same senses and same emotions as issued in the first paragraph and cause us to see those images so ingrained in the mind of the man that they last him for his entire adult life. As we begin to understand what the meaning of this story is, we start to understand Dobson’ message. He is showing us the paths that a person walks through who is weighed down by years of presumption and guilt.
The narrator has created for himself many alternate versions of his story. Ones where he has done some new “right thing” that would have brought about what in his mind would have been a more Just end. In the first retelling the farmer gives up his rage and the boy is at peace. In the second the farmer is brought down by police and finally the boy himself makes the ultimate sacrifice. These show, though by no means a peaceful end, a morally Just conclusion in the eyes of the narrator.
Since the narrator took no stand and made no effort to bring to a close the events of “Kansas” he has had to relive its endings all the way onto his deathbed what is presumed sixty years later. Once we come to this realization, we see what the author’s main point is. “Kansas” is a story written to illustrate how we as humans carry great guilt on into our later years. Not only of the deeds we have done that would be considered morally wrong, but also of the sins of cowardice and disassociation over righteous interference. Shame for the right things we did not do.
In this young man’s case we could presume that his fate was far worse than any that he experienced in his dreams, for he never discovered the ending to his story. If he had learned of a tragic end, he would have been forced to cope and perhaps been able to bury the incident long ago. Better still would have been a happy ending where nothing further need be done. However, this man’s unhappy fate was not knowing. This curiosity, teamed with a healthy imagination, became a constant cyst, growing larger and deeper within his mind, feeding on him without resolution.
I view the story “Kansas” as what would seem a bitter tragedy of a life wasted by a chance encounter. A string of cause and effect that would rob a boy of his innocence and leave him to ponder whatever outcomes he may have caused if he had took the stand for his naive boyish ideals. We are brought into this world by symbols; foreshadowing the change to come, of a boy returning from school eager to experience the world as well as bringing us down into a figure of a farmer who would row to symbolize an angry adulthood without goodness or redeeming qualities.
We see as the boy, now an old man, passes away. He lives out his imaginations of how an everlasting remorse has weighed upon him for all this time. However, a question from all this can still be made though never answered. Could a change have been made? If knowing what he knew as an old man, would the boy have made the same decision? Would he yet again be doomed to the same fate as I have listed above? What Dobson’ finally leads us to in “Kansas,” I hypothesize, is a basic understanding AT ourselves Ana ten value, or terrible welling or, “w