“The Stone Boy” is a story about a nine-year-old boy who accidentally kills his older brother as they are on their way to the garden to pick peas. The fact of the accidental killing of Eugie, however, is not the major question posed by the characters in this story. Rather, the question involves why Arnold, after having accidentally killed his brother, does not return home immediately to call for help from his parents but instead spends an hour in the garden, picking peas. Arnold’s father and mother and his Uncle Andy are unable to understand what kept Arnold in the garden while his brother lay dead. Arnold, himself, has no answer. All he can say is that the purpose of his trip to the garden in the first place was to pick peas, and the peas had to be picked while it was still cool, before the sun came up. The sheriff comes to the conclusion that the shooting was indeed an accident, that there was no malice intended, and that Arnold is either dim-witted or completely rational but unfeeling, like many criminals.
Under the circumstances, Arnold’s father can think of nothing to do but take the gun away from the boy; Uncle Andy accepts the sheriff’s explanation to the extent of making ironic and mean comments about Arnold’s behavior to the farm people, who call on the Curwings to express their sympathy. Arnold’s mother can hardly bear to look at her son, and his sister, Nora, ignores his presence.
If the sheriff is correct in his...
(The entire section is 540 words.)