Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

John Nathan’s 1977 translation of e’s story captures well the stylistic nuances of the original version. Frog’s narration is characterized by its mix of juvenile inconsideration, naïve wonder, and a bit of callousness. His language shows that he and the other village children are a fiercely competitive lot, fighting with each other for the best access to any novelty in their lives. Frog is an astute observer. His narration includes commentaries on the variations in the sunlight that illuminates his native landscape, as well as his descriptive evaluation of human emotions, and the processes transforming his self.

The villagers constantly refer to their prisoner of war as a “catch,” like an especially valuable animal that has been finally trapped. This idea is stylistically reinforced by e’s choice for the occupation of the father as a hunter and trapper. Just as he regularly brings home trapped and shot animals, one day, he is among the first of the villagers returning with the black man. The idea that war has dehumanized people and reduced them to the status of wild animals is well conveyed by e’s particular term for the prisoner. When the captive watches Frog’s father kill and skin a trapped weasel for its pelt, there is an ominous sense of foreshadowing for the fate of the black soldier.

The story opens and closes near the village crematorium, symbolizing the pervasiveness of death even in an apparently idyllic rural...

(The entire section is 423 words.)