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'Brother Death'

"Well," the father said. If he felt triumphant, he did not show his feeling.
"Well," said the son, "I have come back."
"Yes, I see," the father said. "They are cutting corn." He walked towards the barn door and then stopped. "It will be yours soon now," he said. "You can be boss then."
He said no more and both men went away, the father towards the distant fields and the son towards the house. Mary was afterwards quite sure that nothing more was ever said.
What had the father meant ?
"When it is yours you can be boss." It was too much for the child. Knowledge comes slowly. It meant:
"You will be in command, and for you, in your turn, it will be necessary to assert."
"Such men as we are cannot fool with delicate stuff. Some men are meant to command and others must obey. You can make them obey in your turn.
"There is a kind of death.
"Something in you must die before you possess and command."
There was, so obviously, more than one kind of death. For Don Grey one kind and for the younger brother Ted, soon now perhaps, another.

Mary ran out of the barn that day, wanting eagerly to get out into the light, and afterwards, for a long time, she did not try to think her way through what had happened. She and her brother Ted did, however, afterwards, before he died, discuss quite often the two trees. They went on a cold day and put their fingers on the sturnps, but the stumps were cold. Ted kept asserting that only men got their legs and arms cut off, and she protested. They continued doing things that had been forbidden Ted to do, but no one protested, and, a year or two later, when he died, he died during the night in his bed.

But while he lived, there was always, Mary afterwards thought, a curious sense of freedom, something that belonged to him that made it good, a great happiness, to be with him. It was, she finally thought, because, having to die his kind of death, he never had to make the surrender his brother had made - to be sure of possessions, success, his time to command - would never have to face the more subtle and terrible death that had come to his older brother.
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'Brother Death' by Sherwood Anderson

  • 'Brother Death' by Sherwood Anderson


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Mål: eleven skal
1e kunne drøfte og vurdere skjønnlitterære tekstar
4b munnleg og skriftleg kunne analysere og drøfte innhald, personar og tema og vise korleis litterære verkemiddel er brukte i eit representativt utval tekstar frå tida etter 1900.


Read 'Sherwood Anderson - A Biography' and the short story 'Brother Death'.


Answer the following questions:
  1. Give a description of John Grey
  2. What does the author think of John Grey? (admiration, pity, contempt, respect, sympathy, ??)
  3. What similarities and what differences are there between John Grey and his son Don. What do they feel for each other?
  4. Is there any suggestion in the story that John Grey loved his som Don better than the other children?
  5. Describe the relations between:
    Ted and Mary
    Ted and Mary and the others
    John Grey and his wife
    John Grey and his son Don
  6. Give a description of the Aspinwahls
  7. What part do the two trees play in the story?
  8. In what way may the story be said to be a story of
  9. Old age and youth
  10. Materialism and idealism
  11. Life and death
  12. Show how the story may be taken as an illustration of the following passage from the Bible: 'For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' (Matt. 16,26)

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