Over the years, great writers have perfected their craft of storytelling taking viewers on an enthralling journey through their stories. The majority of these writers stand mainly because their narration is able to show clearly how characters develop over time, have impeccable sequence of events and they are able to combine different story elements making the stories more enjoyable. This essay analyzes the literary elements such as characterization, and symbolism, metaphors, themes, and irony in the short story Badeye by Ron Rash.
Badeye follows the life a young boy and his love for snakes and snow cones. The young boy in the story is presumed to be Ron himself. Indeed, Ron Rash’s mentality and writing style are heavily influenced by his surroundings. His plots are influenced by his upbringing in Southern Appalachia. It’s a neighborhood defined by men and women who are accustomed to disaster and adversity, but who are incredibly robust, fortified, and have a fierce sense of community. This is similar to the community setting in Badeye as the author describes the village women as “hard-shell Southern Baptists” (pg. 1)
Other Notable characters from the story include Badeye as the main protagonist the narrator’s mother, father and other villagers. Badeye the story’s main protagonist is described as described as a one-eyed man with long black nails, a serpent tattooed on his shoulder, and a patch on his blind eye. Badeye drove an old black 49 Ford pickup and sold ice cream/snow cones to the children in the Cliffside neighborhood. Badeye was the town’s bootlegger before he started selling snowcones and the devout Women in the village despised him because their husbands were his favorite customers, which they saw as a betrayal of their faith. (pg. 2). The narrator crosses with Badeye when the young boy agrees to transport some moonshine to his patron in exchange for a little coral snake, which later bites him and lands him in hospital.
Just like the other village women, the narrator’s mother was a very religious and spiritual woman. The narrator and his mother did not a very tight connection due to her stern and spiritual nature. In addition, his mother was appalled by his love for snakes. He states “My mother’s sense of impending doom was not assuaged. Her fear of snakes was more than cultural and religious; it was instinctual as well, too deeply embedded in her psyche to be dealt with on a rational level…. She threatened to get rid of the snakes” (pg. 8) His mother’s spiritual and moral battle against his love for snakes and snowcones, may have contributed to their weakened connection.
One of the story’s dominant themes is the theme of fatherhood. The narrator describes that his relationship with his father was a bit strained at the start. “Up to this point in my life, my father and I had been rather distant. Part of the problem was that, possessing an artistic temperament, he was distant towards everyone (pg. 4) However, he was able to find a way to connect to his previously distant father as their love for snakes brought them together. “It was the snakes that brought us together. To my amazement my father shared my interest in reptiles and even spoke of having caught snakes when he was a child.” (pg. 5).
Fundamentally, the father recognizes his love in snakes, given that he captured reptiles as a child, and he proceeds to gift the narrator with snake-related literature and cages. The most moving moment occurs on the narrator’s 8th birthday, when his father gifts him a “hog-nosed snake”, which he purchased from Charlotte to buy after visiting three pet stores. In addition, the theme of love, which is presented in the shape of father and son relationship, is also ingrained in the story and it extends beyond the obsession of snake/reptile and may be assessed via the lens of the various literary devices.
The author further employs symbolism in several instances in the story. An example of a symbolism is the snakes described in the story. The snake is used as a symbol and is used to represent Badeye Carter. Just as Snakes are active very early in the morning, late in the evening, or during the night, Badeye Carter did his business in the evenings when the town lights lit the streets. The author writes; “I remember how he always came that summer at bullbat time, those last moments of daylight when the streetlight in our neighborhood came on and the bats began to swoop, preying on moths attracted to the glow.” (pg. 1) In addition, Snakes are often seen as dangerous creatures that should not be allowed to interact with humans. similarly, Badeye was seen as an outcast by the villagers and was welcomed in the village. Aside from that, snakes are employed symbolically throughout the novel to express possibly the most essential paternal affection, the love that the persona’s father feels for him. As highlighted in the story, the narrator and his dad had an estranged relationship, particularly because they did not share a common interest, but after the boy captures his first snake, their connection blossoms in a touching way (pg. 4).
The author also uses the metaphor of snow cones to illustrate the intimate relationship between dads and their sons. Specifically, it is stated that the moms in the area are constantly opposed to Badeye’s snow cones in addition to the fact that he sold bootleg to the men in the town. Indeed, the narrator confirms this image by asserting that does not ask his mom for a nickel to buy snow cones since according to her “Badeye was an intruder, a bringer of dental rot, bad eating habits, and other things” (pg. 1). As the kid asks their dads for money to buy snow cones, the Cliffside moms’ continual troubled and at times angry impression of Badeye plays a vital role in underscoring the idea of paternal affection and fatherhood, drawing kids and fathers closer together.
The author also employs irony in the story. It was ironical that the narrators mother rejoiced in the autumn. She stood by the window watching the dogwood trees shed their leaves. (Rush 10). She was overcome by the beauty of the trees. What’s unexpected is why the arrival of fall would give her such a good feeling, despite the fact that it signifies the beginning of the cold season. People are expected to be cheerful during the warm summer weather but the mother, probably loathed summer since she despises snakes, and fall heralds the end of the snakes’ season.
In conclusion, Badeye by Ron Rash is a very enthralling and educative story. Particularly, The story’s characterization and impeccable use of elements such as metaphors, irony and symbolism to explain the intricate relationship between parents and their kids, makes the story very interesting.
Rash, Ron. Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories. Badeye Harper Collins, 2014. 1-11 https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=something+rich+and+strange+by+ron+rash&btnG=