Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Price’s style is both poetic and enigmatic; he uses powerful images to communicate both conscious and unconscious elements of human experience and emotion. “His Final Mother” is told in the past tense, a memory. The narrative reveals the thoughts and struggles of Crawford only as he perceives them; the action is not clarified for the reader. The incidents in the story are ordered in disconnected sections of three to five paragraphs. Recollection and memory seem to overlap in the narrative. Price presents the protagonist’s conflict using the stream-of-consciousness technique, so that much of the action takes place in Crawford’s mind. His reality is clouded by his immaturity, fear, confusion, and imagination. Because Crawford has trouble deciding what is real and what is imagined, Price’s audience must view the plot from the character’s limited, subjective experience.

Price conveys his message through symbols; the protagonist’s archetypal journey lies at the center of the plot. Price uses Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), the novel that Crawford reads in the first part of the story, to foreshadow the child’s journey. Like Defoe’s Crusoe, Crawford feels shipwrecked and alone. The forest symbolizes the chaos and mental darkness that both father and son are experiencing. When the boy enters the forest with his father, the incident becomes a turning point. Left alone in the woods, he must struggle against fear to return home...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

His Final Mother Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Drake, Robert, ed. The Writer and His Tradition. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1969.

Humphries, Jefferson, ed. Conversations with Reynolds Price. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1991.

Kaufman, Wallace. “A Conversation with Reynolds Price.” Shenandoah 17 (Spring, 1966): 3-25.

Price, Reynolds. Learning a Trade: A Craftman’s Notebooks, 1955-1997. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998.

Rooke, Constance. Reynolds Price. Boston: Twayne, 1983.

Schiff, James A., ed. Critical Essays on Reynolds Price. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.

Schiff, James A., ed. Understanding Reynolds Price. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

Shuman, R. Baird. “Reynolds Price.” In Encyclopedia of American Literature, edited by Steven R. Serafin. New York: Continuum, 1999.

Woiwode, Larry. “Pursuits of the Flesh, Adventures of the Spirit.” The Washington Post Book World, April 26, 1981, p. 5.

Wright, Stuart, and James L. West III. Reynolds Price: A Bibliography, 1949-1984. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986.