Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The central technique of the story is the narrative stance adopted by Welch. His narrator is telling a story about himself and understands the significance of the events about which he is writing, but his description makes it clear that he did not understand their significance at the time they occurred. By treating the encounter as a pleasant day of eating fine foods and skiing, Welch also suggests that in one sense it was simply that.

It is important to note that it is Welch, or his narrator, who places the narrator’s experiences in a positive and idealized light. To do this, he has to provide many details that would most probably not have occurred to the narrator at age thirteen. When, for example, he refers to Archer, who is carrying two pairs of skis, as “a very tough Jesus,” it is surely the adult narrator, or Welch, recalling the incidents of several years earlier, who supplies this interpretation, not the thirteen-year-old who was too naïve to know what sort of friendship Archer fancied.

The character of the precocious thirteen-year-old boy is an unusual one. The degree to which his appetite for finery is developed is almost too great to credit. More subtly drawn is his surprising independence. For example, he never refers to the older brother by name, and he never describes him. This nameless facelessness throughout the story makes his actions at the end of the story appear all the more intrusive. This intrusive personality serves Welch’s purpose well, for it places in sharper focus the narrator’s ultimate innocence; it seems that Welch considers it almost a failing in the suspicious, unspontaneous brother that he is morally upright.