Ralph the Duck

Essay by DebdebsCollege, UndergraduateB+, February 2008

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R e n e w a l

Vomit. It's neither pretty to see nor pretty to clean up. "Ralph the Duck" begins with the retching sound of the narrator's golden retriever being sick on the carpet . As the narrator, who goes unnamed throughout the whole story, "carries seventy-five pounds of heaving golden retriever to the door and pours him onto the silver, moonlit snow" (1), he thinks to himself, "He loved what made him sick" (2). We learn the dog vomits because he has been eating the rotting carcass of a deer, which he continues to go back to, night after night. Through the dog we see the correlation to the narrator's current destructive lifestyle.

Like the dog, the narrator shows an apparent lack of concern for his own health. He seems to have little energy, most likely due to the fact that he doesn't sleep well.

Several times throughout the story he consumes large amounts of alcohol. He has a "king-sized drink composed of sourmash whiskey and ice" (10) with dinner, while driving at work he has a thermos of sourmash and hot coffee and one morning he starts on a wet breakfast. This would symbolize the fact that the narrator is imposing his condition upon himself. He is bored with his life, bored in his marriage and bored with his job. After the death of his infant daughter he seems to feel no joy in life. Frederick Busch writes "Ralph the Duck", to explore how a man numbed by the pain of having a child die and a crumbling marriage can still experience a renewal of self-worth through his heroic actions in saving the life of a suicidal girl. This act helps him lose his feeling of helplessness and despair...