Disappointment in “Winterkill”

The overarching theme I noticed in Ford’s “Winterkill” is the feeling of disappointment, and how we as humans are able to come to terms with these frustrations.  That disappointment, while bitter, becomes a turning point.  I liked how Ford played the two major episodes of disappointment off of each other; Nola’s grand story of love is about her husband and another woman, while Troy’s big catch is nothing but a waterlogged dear carcass.

These events bring up an issue for the narrator: is it better to say the truth despite the suffering it will incur, or to lie and prevent suffering?  After seeing his friend break down over the deer (which is really a culmination of all of the tragedies in his life, namely his frustration with his disability), he decides that it is better to lie.  However, at the end of the story, we find the Les the narrator alone while Nola and Troy, both having experienced huge discouragement, are finding a connection with each other.  Perhaps Ford is making a commentary on setbacks and frustration.  Avoiding the pain that comes with being let down in life provides a momentary relief, but does not help to form the human connections that occur as a result of these experiences.

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One Response to Disappointment in “Winterkill”

  1. heathermctague says:

    I would disagree that the overarching theme is disappointment. I do agree that disappointment is a major theme, but I believe that it has a companion: loss. I think that the feeling of loss in this story is bigger than disappointment, in that it consumes more of their lives.

    You give the two examples of “Nola’s grand story of love,” that, “is about her husband and another woman,” and “Troy’s big catch” of a waterlogged dear carcass, telling us that they were the two big episodes of disappointment. But, they are also huge on loss. Sure Nola was disappointed that her husband was cheating and left her practically nothing, but the bigger picture is that she lost him. He’s dead, she won’t ever have him again, and she won’t ever have the chance to make him miserable for cheating, that’s lost too. And if you wanted to take that one step further, her life was lost. Because everything went down hill after that. And the way her character interacts with others and speaks, is as though she really believes that she herself is lost and won’t ever get herself back.

    Troy’s waterlogged deer wasn’t just that he didn’t catch a fish, it was that he couldn’t find out himself. He couldn’t save himself that embarrassment of needing someone else to help him out with the snagged line, of finding that it was really a deer. His disability prevented him from doing all of that. And that simple task of fishing lost the simplicity and power that it could have held for him. It’s this loss here that we really see Troy kind of loose it, and everything that he has lost and not complained about just comes to the surface even though they are unspoken.

    They are not just connecting with each other through disappointments but rather through big moments of loss.

    I do wholeheartedly agree that Les, the narrator, did have to make a decision that many people have to make all the time, whether it’s better to tell the truth or to save someone and lie. As you say, he does decide that it is better to lie. So, is Les’ decision something that we as readers are supposed to think about or is there a bigger picture here that we’re not seeing?

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