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“Speckled Trout” by Ron Rash Critical Essay

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Updated: Jun 25th, 2019

This paper is aimed at discussing Ron Rash’s short story Speckled Trout. It is critical to focus on the plot and the themes which are explored by the author.

To a great extent, this literary work can throw light on the values and goals of adolescents who strive to become independent of adults.

On the whole, Speckled Trout is a brilliant narrative that combines skillful use of various literary techniques; moreover, it provides a convincing moral lesson to the readers.

This story revolves around a teenage boy, Lanny Burgess. Judging from the narrative, he lives in a very small town. The main character spends his time fishing in an attempt to catch a speckled trout; yet, he comes across a pot garden.

He thinks that it is quite safe to take these plants, even though they are located on the private property. The boy believes that nothing can threaten him. It should be noted that Lanny steals plants from a man, Linwood Toomey, who is notorious for his ferocity and cruelty.

One can say that this boy believes that he can take care of himself. His father warns him against fishing in the creek because in this area a person can be bitten by a rattlesnake (Rash 51). Nevertheless, the boy disregards this warning. Moreover, he assumes that he will be able to earn money by selling it.

The following quote eloquently describes his experiences, “He rubbed a pot leaf between his finger and thumb, and it felt like money to him, more money than he’d make even at the Pay-Lo” (Rash 51). So, he begins to think about people who can buy this pot.

He eventually seeks the assistance of Leonard Hamby, who sells drugs and beer. Lanny believes that he can come back to the place and take the plants once again and earn quick money. The main problem is that he falls into a trap set by Linwood Toomey.

The main character understands that he is practically immobilized. Later, the owner of these plants finds him out, and it becomes quite clear to Lanny that he is in grave danger. When the boy is almost about to faint, he thinks about the speckled trout because he initially came to this place in order to catch it.

In particular, he thinks “how bright and pretty they” are (Rash 55). It should be noted that Ron Rash does not tell what exactly happens to Lanny.

Certainly, one can suppose that Linwood Toomey will call for an ambulance. Nevertheless, some readers can also imagine a more gruesome ending to this short story. These are the main elements of the plot.

In my opinion, Speckled Trout is a great prosaic work, and there are several aspects that make this story quite remarkable. First of all, the author is able to create a sense of suspense, especially when he describes the encounter between Lanny and Linwood Toomey.

For example, Ron Rash describes Linwood Toomey’s speech in the following, “Linwood Toomey said something else but each word was like a balloon” (Rash 55). The writer does not specify what exactly this character is saying, but it is possible that his words produce a horrifying impression on Lanny.

Thus, the readers are made to reflect upon the fate of the protagonist. The writer avoids speaking about specific details, and this approach helps him catch the viewers’ attention. Additionally, Ron Rash gives readers deep insights into the behavior of a teenagers.

In particular, one should speak about their illusion of invincibility. In particular, the main character is firmly convinced he can easily avoid any pitfalls. For example, he thinks that Linwood Toomey is “too lazy and drunk to walk the quarter-mile from their farmhouse to the creek to look for trespassers too” (Rash 51).

The author is able to depict Lanny’s resentful attitudes toward people who are “too old and scared to try anything else” (Rash 53). He uses these words in order to describe the behavior of his teachers. Furthermore, this short story can be viewed as an eloquent moral lesson to the readers.

In particular, the audience is reminded that the attempts to earn money without any effort are often doomed to failure. Lanny thinks that he is “pretty damn near a money tree and all he had to do was get its leaves to Leonard Hamby” (Rash 53).

Only later, this boy understands that he has makes a grave error. Yet, the readers do not know whether Lanny will be able to change his worldviews and moral principles. These are the main aspects that can be distinguished.

Thus, it is possible to argue that Ron Rash was able to create a thought-provoking narrative that enables readers understand the behavior of adolescents who think that they can easily do without parents or any other adults.

This short story prompts the audience to recollect their own adolescent experiences. Furthermore, the author succeeds in creating the sense of suspense. These are the main points that can be made.

Works Cited

Rash, Ron. “Speckled Trout.” The O. Henry Prize Stories 2005. Ed. Laura Furman, Cristina Garcia, & Ann Patchett. New York: Anchor Books, 2005. 51-55. Print.

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