Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 652
He called the others and they came to look. They talked about what to do. One of the men—my Stuart didn’t say which—said they should start back at once. The others stirred the sand with their shoes, said they didn’t feel inclined that way. They pleaded fatigue, the late hour, the fact that the girl wasn’t going anywhere.
In the above quote, Carver highlights the men's discomfort upon discovering the girl's lifeless body. From the text, we learn that the men talked about "what to do." Only one of the men suggest going back and informing the authorities about their discovery. All are uneasy.
The rest of the men plead fatigue. Carver leaves unspoken the group's overriding concerns. For example, if they return at such a late hour and inform the authorities, will they be implicated in the girl's death? Also, the girl is naked, which indicates the possibility of sexual assault. The men fear the appearance of guilt, which explains their behavior when Stuart makes the call.
It was Stuart who made the call while the others stood around in the sun and listened. He gave the sheriff their names. They had nothing to hide. They weren’t ashamed. They said they’d wait until someone could come for better directions and take down their statements.
In the above quote, we can see the defensive postures of the men. They maintain that they have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. Carver, by his omission of more details, manages to imbue the girl's death with an air of sinister mystery.
"They said they were innocent. They said they were crazy."
He says, "Who?" He says, "What are you talking about?"
"The Maddox brothers. They killed a girl named Arlene Hubly where I grew up. They cut off her head and threw her into the Cle Elum River. It happened when I was a girl."
He says, "Goddamn it, why can’t people mind their own business? Tell me what I did wrong and I’ll listen! I wasn’t the only man there. We talked it over and we all decided. We couldn’t just turn around. We were five miles from the car. I won’t have you passing judgment. Do you hear?"
"You know," I say.
He says, "What do I know, Claire? Tell me what I’m supposed to know. I don’t know anything except one thing?" He gives me what he thinks is a meaningful look. "She was dead," he says. "And I’m as sorry as anyone else. But she was dead."
(The entire section contains 652 words.)
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