Consider the narrator of “The Great Electrical Revolution” and the perspective from which it is told. How does this narrative vantage point make the telling of the story effective? How does the narrator characterize Grandad? What is his agoraphobia?  

“The Great Electrical Revolution” is told from the perspective of a young boy named Larry. The story is set during the Great Depression and relates the difficulties Larry's family experiences from the perspective of a child whose innocence provides both interest and humor. Larry's Grandad hoped to become a Canadian farmer, but his agoraphobia limits him to the profession of brick layer. Grandad often curses, showing that he is a rough man, but his cursing is more habitual than malicious.

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Ken Mitchell's story “The Great Electrical Revolution” is set in Canada during the Great Depression—1937, to be exact. The narrator, Larry, is only a boy at the time, so he has an innocence about him that allows him to relate the story's events with all their humor and interest and without the bitterness an adult might have shown. Of course, Larry is older when he is telling the tale of his Grandad's battle with the electric company, but the childlike simplicity of his memories still holds.

Grandad arrived in Canada from Ireland hoping for a new life as a farmer in the wide open spaces of the Canadian prairie. He had dreams of cultivating many acres of land and raising crops that would support him and his family for many years to come. But the first time Grandad goes out to look at his potential new acres, he panics. He comes back to the family's Moose Jaw hotel room huddled on the floor of the buggy and yelling, “There's too much of it!” and “Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles!” He cannot stand the wide open spaces of the prairie. They make him nearly crazy with fear and the overwhelming urge to run and cower and scream. This is agoraphobia at its worst: the fear of a place or situation that makes a person feel unsafe and helpless. Indeed, Grandad feels threatened and helpless before the expanse of the land, so he stays in Moose Jaw and resumes his profession of brick layer until the Depression hits.

Grandad is quite the profane old man. His speech is laced with curse words and religious sentiments turned into curse words. This use of language, however offensive as it is, tells readers something about Grandad's character. He is a rough man who has had a difficult life. He doesn't know how to express himself more gently because he has never been taught. When he is angry or upset, his language turns sour. No one actually thinks that Grandad means what he says. He is not malicious. Larry's grandma mildly scolds her husband for his cursing, and he improves for a while. Then he falls back into his old habits.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 26, 2021
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