Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
“Walker Brothers Cowboy” is told in the first person from the point of view of an adult woman recounting a significant formative experience from her preadolescent girlhood in which she meets a woman her father dated before marrying her mother. Through the encounter, she comes to view her father in a new light by realizing that he is not only a family provider but also a man with a colorful emotional history all his own.
The opening scene of “Walker Brothers Cowboy” establishes the geographic and psychological landscape of the story—rural Canada in the decade following World War II, where the narrator’s family and most of their neighbors have fallen on hard times and struggle to maintain their dignity in the face of declining fortunes. As the story begins, the narrator describes her mother making homemade school clothes for her because her family can no longer afford store-bought ones. Her father, Ben Jordan, was earning a respectable living raising foxes for their fur but the fur market bottomed out, and he has had to take a job as a door-to-door salesperson. The narrator’s father invites his daughter to join him for a walk along the shores of Lake Huron. This rare bonding experience unites the pair, who seldom share any time together because of the demands of Ben’s work.
The narrator’s mother—a disillusioned and emotionally reserved woman—minds to the everyday needs of her daughter and son while Ben spends long days on...
(The entire section is 738 words.)
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"Walker Brothers Cowboy" tells of the journey of a young girl as she travels along with her father on one of his outings as a salesman for Walker Brothers. The story, told in the first person narrative, begins with the father and daughter walking through their town and follows them as they drive through the countryside, stopping along the way at the home of one of the father's old loves, and then returning home again.
(The entire section is 75 words.)
The story begins with the narrator describing a walk she takes with her father down to the banks of Lake Huron. They walk through town, passing the neighbor children, whom she does not know. They pass a deserted factory, a lumberyard, and junkyards. They enter a vacant lot that serves as a park where they sit and look at the water. Farther down, the narrator sees the part of the lake they used to visit before the family moved to Tuppertown from Dungannon. By the docks, instead of the farmers and their wives dressed in their Sunday best, they meet tramps, for whom her father rolls a cigarette. Her father tells her how the Great Lakes were formed, after the ice from the Ice Age retreated. The girl finds it impossible to imagine when this time existed—when dinosaurs roamed the earth. She can’t even imagine when Indians lived around the lake. She reflects on how short a period of time an individual inhabits the earth.
The story changes scene, and the narrator talks about her father’s job as a salesman for Walker Brothers. He goes from door to door in the back country, selling shampoos, medicines, teas, and poison. In Dungannon, the family had a fox farm, but they went bankrupt and were forced to move to Tuppertown, where her father found this job. The girl’s mother is clearly unhappy with their new poverty, and more so, with their fall from the dignity of owning a business to their status as the family of a ‘‘pedlar.’’
(The entire section is 770 words.)