Erskine Caldwell “The Windfall”

From the viewpoint of its structure it represents a piece of narration which is an account of the main character`s actions, a piece of character drawing, presented directly and indirectly that the reader has to discover a psychological portrait of the characters beyond the surface contents and through the dialogue. There is also an inner monologue in the story.

The plot is rather eventless and consists mainly in describing the main character`s actions and thoughts. The story may be divided into 3 logically completedparts. The first part may be entitled “Waldo Murdock`s Windfall” and it begins with the words: “When Waldo Murdock…” and ends with “Will be away for the forenoon, the whole of it”. Here we learn that Mr. Murdock gets money because he was remembered in a will of his brother from Australia. His wife Dessie asked to take the money and she promised that she would not spend them on trifles. But Waldo insisted on the fact that money

were Mordock`s and he would not let her spend them. Dessie kept thinking about it and tried to get money from Waldo`s pocket. But her attempts were lost. Next morning Mr. Murdock found an empty coffee can and left out of the house. When he came back he warned his wife that he had to go to the village and let his wife think about money.

The second part begins with “Dessie nodded” and ends with “That`s fine”. Dessie was obsessed with getting money and she asked Justine, a hired girl to dig with her in order to find a coffee can with money that Mr. Murdock left somewhere in the ground. They have not found anything and the next day Dessie asked the lawyer to help her with divorce and certainly she wanted to get the inheritance.

In the third part of the story Mr. Murdock and Dessie made peace and gave the sum of money to Justine who wanted to marry Carl Friend. So, the whole atmosphere of the story seems to be ironical. The style of the author can be characterised in the following way: this is a short story with a dialogue, thus we may speak about colloquial phrases such as: “to

feel like” (to be inclined), “instead of being up and doing” (instead of being active), “for all the concern I`d ever have” (so far as I am concerned), “to take on so” (to get so much excited), “to get shed of it” (to get rid of it). Colloquial phrases can`t occur in formal speech. As it is a story we may find some kind of description elements which characterise the actions of the characters and their speech: “said firmly”, “said stiffly”, “said shortly”, “sat up decisively”, “nodded approvingly”.

The syntactical element is defined due to the usage of complex sentences with “if-conjunction” structures, there are some sentences with imperative mood and sometimes they sound like an order to do something: “Pay no mind to”, “Go on about your tasks”, “Come in here”, “Never mind my reasons”, “Get your head out of my pants”, “Mind your own affaires”, “Get up and dig”, etc. Through the dialogue the reader sees the words which are omitted and such elements are implied by the situation: “Guess I will take…”, “Don`t want to mention…”, “Thought I might…”, etc. There is a tendency to omit 1-st person singular pronoun “I” in the sentences, quoted above.

There are some utterances which seem to be incomplete such as: “Maybe”, – she said; “Not exactly”, – she admitted; “But, why?” etc. But they are used in dialogues, so we deal here with the elliptical structures. Thereby, the style of the author can be characterised due to the syntactical elements and the usage of words which are not only literary but there are some examples of colloquial ones.

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Erskine Caldwell “The Windfall”