Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

As a conventional slice-of-life story recounted from the third-person point of view, this story has plotting that is adroit but simply linear. The straightforward technique is controlled by the presentation, in evolutionary stages, of the compressed and layered conflict within the protagonist. Shaw plots the story to highlight the subtle texture of this conflict and to embody his theme of faith precisely within its resolution. In so doing, Shaw hooks conflict and theme to several profoundly meaningful objects. Money is entirely positive; it represents nothing more than access to well-deserved pleasure and its enjoyment with genuine friends. It is important that the money stands for something as emotionally and spiritually valuable as the Luger. The Luger, on the other hand, stands equally for access to that fraternity and for Seeger’s sense of ongoing security in the face of the death camps. His view of the war has left him with a commitment never to be victimized by any kind of fascist. His is not a pistol picked up idly at a roadside; it belonged to one of those responsible for the camps, a murderer of Jews who was vanquished by Seeger himself. It thus stands for Seeger’s personal and ethnic duty. Through it readers see Seeger as an instrument not only of American national integrity but of Jewish justice. The reader should then see its emblematic affinity with Seeger’s rifle, which the old Jewish couple so clearly perceived in terms of their liberation. The...

(The entire section is 464 words.)