On the surface, at least, “The Pedersen Kid” is a relatively simple tale. A Scandinavian family, the Jorgensens, are trying to keep warm during a howling blizzard that has virtually rendered them snowbound. The family consists of Ma (Hed), a kindly, self-effacing woman, and Pa, a boorish, drunken lout who hides his whiskey bottles all over the house and expresses his displeasure by dumping the contents of his chamber pot on the heads of his victims. Jorge, their son and the narrator of the tale, fears and despises him, as does Big Hans, the hired hand who works for the family and lives in the house with them. It is Big Hans who finds the Pedersen kid, half-buried in a snowdrift in front of the Jorgensen farmhouse.
Although he first seems to be dead (the first of many ambiguities in the story), Ma revives the young child (his exact age is another ambiguity—he could be two or even four years old) with the help of Big Hans and Jorge. Pa awakens, fuming as always, but eventually he, Big Hans, and Jorge determine to visit the Pedersen family to notify them of the child’s rescue—and to verify if they have been killed or put in the cellar by a mysterious character called “yellow gloves” by the Pedersen kid.
The bulk of the narrative is taken up by their visit to the Pedersen farm in the midst of the blinding blizzard, itself a kind of symbol for the confusion and ambiguity of the entire situation. Pa drops his whiskey bottle in the...
(The entire section is 526 words.)