Mule Killers

In: English and Literature

Submitted By imaya9
Words 1084
Pages 5
Progress Does Not Always Lead to a Better Life



Life, in the primitive sense of the word, means moving through time towards inevitable death. Progression, by definition, means development towards a destination or more advanced state. Life in the emotional aspect explores love, and with love there will always be shortcomings and complexities. Progression, life, destruction, and love are themes in the short story Mule Killers by Lydia Peelle. The short story is a story within a story, and it is first person narration from the point of view of a son retelling the story of his father and his grandfather. The story thereby tells the stories of three different generations of men. The setting is in Nashville Tennessee, the time period is not certain but from the events and descriptions it appears to be during the brink of industrialization. The element of progress in Mule Killers is seen in the family’s life story, the father’s effort to reach adulthood, and - as a parallel story - industrialization; progress is portrayed not only in the stories of the father and grandfather but also in the depiction of the development of the society.
In the very beginning, it is clear that the main character’s father has a hard time time coping with his emotions, particularly his immaturity, and striving to progress to a stable future. In the first paragraph where the author introduces the character, the son’s father, he describes him as: “my father has his father’s height, and he carries it apologetically” (2). It is already evident in the author’s use of diction and the word “apologetically” that there is a feeling of guilt. Furthermore, even though the father has his father’s height he carries it apologetically perhaps because he feels he is not mature enough to be “equal” to his father. The father’s feeling about his height maintains the theme of progress in the story, meaning…...