The Portable Phonograph by Walter Van Tilburg Clark

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Please analyze The Portable Phonograph by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. This is a study guide question posted by eNotes Editorial. Your literary analysis may touch on a variety of topics, including (but...

Please analyze The Portable Phonograph by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. This is a study guide question posted by eNotes Editorial. Your literary analysis may touch on a variety of topics, including (but not limited to) discussions of the author’s style, the use of symbols or motifs, or the broader historical or literary context in which the work was written.

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In "The Portable Phonograph," Walter Van Tilburg Clark maintains an almost detached tone to narrate a story of the bleak state of humanity in a post-apocalyptic setting.

In the opening paragraph, this tone is combined with a harsh description of the world which remains: the grass is matted, the mud is frozen rigid, there are scars left by "gigantic bombs," and tangled barbed wire encases the caves where soldiers held a front line in this war. Although humanity has nearly disappeared, nature forges on. Geese flee south; the verb connotes a natural desire to escape the carnage left behind by man's wars. In the distance, a prairie wolf howls faintly.

The setting is winter, and an icy cold envelops the setting. A creek stands silent, and the trees are leafless. However, colder weather will come as indicated by the survivor's fire of peat instead of a warmer wood:

But the precious remnants of wood, old fence posts and timbers from the long deserted dugouts, had to be saved for the real cold, for...

(The entire section contains 633 words.)

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