Essay on the short story: "The Rattler"

Essay by TalonStrikerHigh School, 11th gradeA, September 2005

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One can have conflicting encounters with Nature. While some are gay and amusing, others can be depressing and unsettling. "The Rattler" describes a rueful encounter between a man and a snake. The man in the passage is torn between allegiances to his duty and his feelings. The man, at length, decides to obey his sense of duty, and proceeds to kill the snake. After killing the snake, he recounts his decision and comes to regret it. In the passage, the use of language and details about the man, the snake, and the setting invites the reader to feel sympathetic toward the snake and the man.

The passage evokes feelings of sympathy by providing details about the man's feelings and thoughts. A scene in which the passage evokes feeling is when the man is out for a walk and he unexpectedly comes upon the snake in middle of the path.

The speaker's first instinct "was to let him [the snake] go on his way," and he would go his. This scene serves to vindicate the man from the notion that he went looking for a snake to kill as a hunter would. The passage goes on describe the indecision of the man about whether he should let the snake go or kill it. The man finally decides that "there were children, and women lightly shod at the ranch ...[and his duty] was to kill the snake." Description of the man's indecision coaxes the reader to look upon the man with more sympathy because he had made the decision only because he felt it was his duty; if it weren't for his sense of duty, he might have let the snake go. The passage also arouses sympathy for the man by describing his regrets after he kills the snake. The...