An analytical essay of “Crossing” by
In the text “Crossing”, written in 2009 by Mark
Slouka, we follow a father and his son. They are going on a field trip into the
wild and mysterious nature. Throughout the story, the father is reminded to similar
field trips he shared with his own father. At some point we discover that the
father is the main character – because the plot of the story is told by the
fathers thought and experiences, we get an insight of who the father really is.
The father has some difficulties and they are described as “he hadn’t been
happy in a while” This shows us that the father is going through a rough time, which is caused by
a tough break up. The father wants to build a strong connection to his son.
Mark Slouka’s use of this special narrative technique
brings us closer to the father – we discover some of his personal traits, such
as It is obvious that the father cares a lot for his son. The father tries to
be as sweet and caring, we see that when it says, “When the boy walked back to
the car he swung the door open for him, then reached over and pulled the door
shut and bumped out of the empty road” We, as readers, does only have access to the thoughts of the father, therefor
the boy is described through the father’s thoughts – as an effect of this, we
create an image off the son being a sweet and fragile boy who needs the
father’s protection. “He looked over at the miniature jeans, the sweatshirt
bunched beneath the seat belt’s strap, the hiking boots dangling off the floor
like weights” because the story is told through the thoughts of the father, the boy is
described in a subjective way, therefor the credibility of how the boy in fact
is, might not be reliable according to reality.
Right off the bat the story builds up this tense
feeling because we know something is going to happen. The setting in the story
is very important, and is therefore described very well. The weather and the
atmosphere in the wild nature is very well described. “It was raining…”,
“The line of the open sky in the east was razor sharp”
The story is written and told by a third person
narrator. The present time, which is the moment where the father and the son is
on their field trip, is interrupted by flashbacks. In these flashbacks, the
father recalls his own field trips with his own father. This is not chronologic
because of the flashbacks, it goes from present-past-present and so on.
Therefore, the reader needs to be aware and follow tensely with the progression
of the story with full attention.
Even though the father has been on field trip before, the
narrator’s own comments to the story, builds up and fear of what might happen.
The surroundings are not what they used to be, the narrator lets the reader
know. “The river was bigger than he remembered it, stronger”6.
The river, as well as the title, plays a central part in the story: It is
described as bigger, stronger, and deeper water and the danger of the river and
the whole might be the end for the son and the father. At this point in the
story, the whole environment is described very dull and scary, like death. This
may show that the crossing in the father’s life is more difficult than the
crossing he went through with his own father.
The old rotten barn which they sleep in is described
with dull and death. In contrast to the dark weather and environment, the
nature is described as a place of great experiences. “.and sometimes, if you were quiet, herds of
elk would graze in the meadow at dusk” In the beginning of the story, the father doubt that the outcome of this father-son
fieldtrip is positive, “maybe- he could make it right” The father at a point of his life where he cannot go back, he needs to do
something meaningful, this he finds with his son – where he finds his salvage of
At the very end of the story, the title comes to play.
The title “Crossing” could be and interpretation of the scene; when the father is
making his son feel calm and relaxed, making him comfortable in the current
situation. Will the father and the son fall into the river? The narrator’s description
of the father’s thoughts concerning the dark environment and the weather
connect to one big ending.
Mark Slouka leaves an open ending, it is up to the reader
to decide whether they will die or live? It is up to us to decide whether the
mission the father set out to complete, did in fact complete. His personal
mission of doing something worthy by the time of his end is carried out. The
outcome of the story will be different whether they make it out alive then the
father would feel like he is back on track, and if not, they will die together
and be together for ever. Just in the sacred skies.