I am having a hard time analyzing Johnson's story "What Happened to Red Deer," which is part of The Snake Game, for literature. Is there any way I can receive some help?

An analysis of Wayne Johnson's "What Happened to Red Deer" might include a character sketch of Red Deer, an examination of the story's intricate plot, an exploration of the story's literary features, and a note about questions deliberately left unanswered.

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Wayne Johnson's story "What Happened to Red Deer" runs on raw emotion and vivid flashbacks that reach their climax when Red Deer throws the pitch that deliberately hits the batter. We can analyze this story in many different ways, so let's brainstorm a few. Remember that to analyze a story means to take it apart and look at its various elements in order to better grasp its deeper meanings.

The most obvious place to begin is with Red Deer himself. He is a complex character with a great deal of anger inside him for more reasons than one. Think about what drives Red Deer. He has experienced a great deal of pain in his life, including the death of a loved one, a fight with his stepfather, and estrangement from his mother and younger brother. He has also faced a great deal of discrimination as a Native American, especially in the nicknames that have long been hurled at him. The only way Red Deer can cope with his anger is to pitch a baseball. He puts all his anger behind his pitches so that he can control it. But finally, the anger gets control of him when the people from his past show up, the nicknames begin again, and all his memories come flooding back in a rush. Red Deer loses control, and he loses himself.

We might also analyze the story's plot. This story has a frame to it. It begins in the present with the baseball game and Red Deer struggling to remain in control as his anger threatens to overtake him. Then the story flashes back, and we learn why Red Deer is as he is. The story takes us through a whole bunch of scenes from Red Deer's past, from his teen years through his fight with his stepfather through his working and baseball playing days. We meet the people who influenced him and tormented him. We see him learn to hate himself. Then the story returns to the present as the tension builds to its climax and Red Deer throws his final pitch.

We can also analyze the story's language. The author uses some interesting metaphors, for instance, like the "fabric of all the lies" Red Deer has built up around himself. The author also uses many vivid descriptions to help us picture the action of the story and Red Deer's responses to is. Just think of Red Deer's images of the batter before he throws that last pitch.

Finally, we can think about all the things the story doesn't quite tell us. For example, we never learn all the details about the incident that took place involving Red Deer's father. We don't find out the full story because Red Deer doesn't want to remember it or think about it. We also don't know what happened with Red Deer's mother and brother, though they are at the game that Red Deer pitches as the story begins and ends, so they apparently still want to be in his life. Red Deer has never tried to reconnect with them, so we simply don't know. Ironically, we also don't know what eventually happens to Red Deer. The story ends before we find out.

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