Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Adding to Kaplan’s suspense about the uneasy relationship that he sets up between Andy on one hand, and Charlie and his son on the other, is the touch of the mystical and the supernatural. Kaplan weaves such dreamlike fantasy as Andy’s mysterious nocturnal encounter with the doe with everyday experience, and this story follows others in this respect. Although he confesses to inspiration by the likes of John Cheever, Kaplan is also reminiscent of other late twentieth century short-story writers such as Robert Coover, for whom there is no objective reality different from what individuals perceive. Kaplan tries to show how the magical and the ordinary coexist with an indistinct dividing line between them, at least in Andy’s mind.

The story is told from Andy’s perspective; the reader is allowed to enter her mind and share her thought processes. As her story unfolds, her musings evolve from the more simple and concrete—for example, how vast the woods might be—to the more complex and abstract—for example, the analogy between the sounds of the forest and of the ocean—perhaps symbolizing her changing state.

The atmosphere of the forbidding frozen forest, through which the wind blows through the treetops chilling Andy and reminding her of the sound of the breaking surf of the “inevitable sea,” strikes the key in which the action proceeds. Nature is not gentle, and the atmospherics serve as both prologue and epilogue to the...

(The entire section is 409 words.)