2 Critical Introduction

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In this installation of Beginnings and Endings: A Critical Edition, we will look at Anthony Doerr’s short story entitled “River Run.” The story depicts the life of a retired man named Mulligan who finds himself in a struggling marriage. Through a series of unforeseen events which take place over the course of a fishing trip, Mulligan is forced to ultimately accept his circumstances. Through multiple lenses which consist of deconstruction, new criticism, psychological, and reader’s response we examine the central themes that are presented in this story and continue to captivate audiences.

 

Rebecca young

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ava king

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adrianna monsivais

“River Run” by Anthony Doerr draws on a structure which is fragmented and vague in its use of grammar and dialogue. The protagonist, Mulligan, does not touch on their internal feelings or partake in sentimental musings to elaborate on their circumstances. Instead, the story heavily relies on concrete detail which depicts the environment Mulligan is in. The use of this detail is intwined with Carl Jung’s psychological theory of the unconscious and serves as a symbol which gives insight into Marshall’s psychological state. In addition, Marshall’s relationships take a dominant role in the story and are constructed in a way which leaves more questions than answers. This can be analyzed using Freud’s Dream Theory which touches on the unconscious but in a way that is different from what Jung proposes. Both theories serve to illuminate Mulligan’s mental state in a way which is not articulated outright through typical uses of dialogue or monologue. These psychological insights provide a single message to the reader in which the story suggests that we cannot escape the unconscious. Our hidden desires, feelings, and needs will come to the surface in ways which affect our external world.  

 

erica couch 

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Beginnings and Endings: A Critical Edition Copyright © 2021 by Liza Long is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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