abstract illustration of many different faces and settings that reflect the diversity of speakers in the Spoon River Anthology

Spoon River Anthology

by Edgar Lee Masters

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How does the subjective narration in Edgar Lee Masters's '"Trainor, the Druggist" affect the reader's perceptions?

The subjective narration in Edgar Lee Masters's “Trainor, the Druggist" affects the reader's perceptions by giving a privileged insight into his character. By getting inside the mind of Trainor, the reader can more effectively learn more about what kind of person he is.

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Trainor the druggist's take on the ill-starred marriage of the Pantiers tells us more about him than it does about them. Trainor is an eccentric druggist whose expertise in chemistry enables him to draw parallels between the negative results of incompatible chemicals being mixed together and the sad consequences of the Pantiers' clash of personalities.

According to Trainor, Benjamin Pantier was oxygen to his wife's hydrogen; they should never have become mixed up together and were always incompatible from the start. And this deadly combination produced a “devastating fire” in the form of their son.

That “Trainor, the Druggist” is told from a subjective point of view gives us an insight into his character. Trainor appears very smug, very full of himself in pronouncing on the deficiencies of other people's relationships. This, despite the fact that he himself, as he proudly proclaims, never married. All of this information, casually revealed, tells us an awful lot about him.

And what's particularly ironic here is even that Trainor's competence as a chemist needs to be called into question. After all, he was killed while making an experiment. We cannot know for certain, but one gets the distinct impression that he didn't practice what he preaches in mixing incompatible chemicals together.

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