The writing has the nature of a personal memoir more than a distanced,
objective historical narration. The narrative voice is intriguing in that
certain clues make clear that the story is being told by Adam Cooper long
after the even. Because of the insights this older Adam provides, we are
better able to believe that Adam is maturing over the course of this fateful
day - that is,........
The novel begins in an intriguing fashion:
When I turned back to the house, my father called after me and asked me did I figure that I was finished. "I figure so," I said, and then my father said, in that way he has of saying something that cuts you down to half of your size or less:
"Slow to start and quick to finish." He said it plain and quiet, but it was of a piece and it reminded me that I couldn't think of a time when he had said something pleasing or gentle with love or concern; and I replied to him, but not aloud - for which I didn't have the guys at all - "If just once in all my born days you'd say a good thing to me, then maybe I'd show good to you, and be able to do what you want me to do, and maybe read your mind or your soul." (7)
The opening phrase "When I turned back to the house" - and further, the sentence closes with a reference to something which is not explained. This is a technique known as in media res, where the reader starts in the middle of the action, not given any expository information or context beyond the immediate moment. Ironically, the action here isn't some great battle or dramatic turning point, but a chore being questioned by a father. We are never told what the task is exactly, from which Adam is turning back to the house and his father questions Adam's ability in completing. As a result, what is placed firmly in the reader's mind isn't a mundane chore of any sort but a vivid sense of the tension between father and son and the dissatisfaction each feels for the other.
By starting the novel with such a scene, several things are achieved.
First, history is made livelier: a casual reader may fear that a historical
novel will be dryly factual in its accounts, that the dead past will remain
dead on the pages of a book. The style and chosen focus of Fast's novel
work against such a staid approach, dramatizing not just the historical
events but the life of the fictitious protagonist in a manner that is
recognizable to most readers. Further, since this novel is being narrated
by Adam at some later date after the events described, it also.........
The complete study guide is currently available
as a downloadable PDF,
Word DOC file from the PinkMonkey MonkeyNotes
download store. The complete study guide contains summaries and notes
for all of the chapters; detailed analysis of the themes, plot structure,
and characters; important quotations and analysis; detailed analysis of
symbolism, motifs, and imagery; a key facts summary; a multiple-choice
quiz, and suggested book report ideas and essay topics.