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"The Ledge" …

"The Ledge"
Lawrence Sargent Hall

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  • 1. “ The Ledge” Lawrence Sargent Hall Matt February 15, 2011 Honors English 9
  • 2. <ul><li>Early on Christmas morning, a rough, gritty fisherman plans to take his thirteen year old son and fifteen year old nephew duck hunting. Both boys are excited to try out the new guns they received for Christmas. The fisherman is optimistic and believes that today will be an incredible hunting day, since all the conditions are perfect for the hunt. His wife has long wished that he would not take the risk of going to sea during the winter, and yearns for a safer, more secure way of life. However, the fisherman is an unyielding man who is confident in his skills, and his wife is resigned to the fact that he will do as he pleases. Even though the morning is cold and raw, and many others wouldn’t dare venture out of their homes, the fisherman intends to keep his promise to the boys. He prides himself on his ability to take on the elements, and believes that he will have no trouble as long as he follows his usual routines. The fisherman and the boys take a skiff to their boat and, securing their skiff on the larger vessel, head out to Brown Cow Island, near where they intend to hunt. Leaving the larger vessel on the island, they load their gear and dog in the skiff, and depart toward where they will set up decoys for the hunt. The boys eagerly but clumsily, set up the decoys as the fisherman directs them. They then head out in the skiff for the ledge, a small shelf of land that protrudes from the Atlantic when the tide is low. When they reach the ledge they unpack and prepare for the shooting. The boys become restless as they wait for the birds to fly over, annoying the fisherman who is already agitated that he has forgotten the tobacco he always brings for his pipe. He demands that the boys remain as still as the old dog who lies quietly waiting. </li></ul>&amp;quot;The Ledge&amp;quot;Summary
  • 3. <ul><li>Finally, the flock arrives, and the fisherman gives the signal to shoot. The boys are thrilled with their accomplishment of shooting many birds, and the fisherman is pleased that his instincts are correct and that the hunt is successful. He allows his excited son to accompany him in the skiff to retrieve the birds, leaving his protesting and sullen nephew with the dog on the ledge. They return with a load of ducks, and while the fisherman pulls the skiff onto the shelf, the boys proudly debate who shot the most. The fisherman agrees that they have time for another try, and the boys lie down to wait for the next flight, chattering competitively. As the fisherman moves away from the boys to relax, he notices that the skiff is no longer on the ledge. In shock and disbelief he scours the small area, but does not see the boat and desperately tries to figure out what has happened. The boys are astounded by his sudden panic, at first unaware that the boat is missing. The enraged fisherman shouts at the boys to search for the skiff. The fisherman finally spots it, adrift, far from the ledge. He is stunned and falls silent. As reality sets in, he desperately attempts to find a solution to the predicament, ordering the boys to fire their guns in succession, hoping someone will recognize the shots as a call for help. After using all the ammunition, the fisherman realizes his wife will not know to send help in time because he has not given her details of their trip. As the daylight fades and the tide creeps up over the ledge, the fisherman sees there is no way out. He now focuses on the moment, and with calm acceptance, tries to buffer and comfort the boys as the cold and the water take over. The boys, as they have been trained, do not show their terror. After a while, the fisherman’s nephew does not answer to his cousin’s call and the dog is also silently lost to the sea. The fisherman puts his son on his shoulders and instructs him to try to swim for shore once the water engulfs them, but knows that this is in vain. Dawn breaks and a fleet of boats finds the skiff afloat with the evidence of a successful hunt. Not long after, the fisherman’s body is located lodged in a crevice, but the bodies of the boys are not found. At the close of the story, the fisherman’s wife stands over her husband’s icy body, laid out on his dock with the boy’s boot frozen under his arm. </li></ul>&amp;quot;The Ledge&amp;quot;Summary
  • 4. Conflict <ul><li>The major conflict in “The Ledge” is person versus nature. Nature is a powerful force over which humans have little control, but people still underestimate its power. Those who take on the challenges of nature often rely on skills and careful planning, but forget that human error and the unpredictability of nature will always leave them vulnerable. The fisherman in this story is a great example of this conflict since he is more in touch with nature than most people. He takes pleasure in his adventures outdoors and prides himself in how he makes his living from nature. The fisherman believes his planning and skills are sufficient to protect him in his environment. He has lived as part of nature all his life and begins to assume he is in control and is invincible, forgetting his mortality. Although the fisherman is still careful, his sense of supremacy leads to the ultimate conflict with nature where his survival is at stake. The fisherman’s conflict is clear when his planning, his guns, his boat, and his cunning are no match for “the element of time” and the sea’s “undisputed, wild realm.” </li></ul>
  • 5. <ul><li>The climax in “The Ledge” is the point at which the fisherman sights the skiff and realizes it is adrift at sea, heading home without them. Up until this time the action has been building as the fisherman and the boys embark on an ill fated adventure. The author builds the suspense through many clues. The fisherman’s wife questions the danger of his adventures in the beginning of the story, and the fisherman may have changed his mind if it wasn’t for the promise he had made to the boys. The author notes that others would not venture out during this season. The fisherman repeatedly mentions his perfect planning, however there are signs that things will not turn out the way he had planned. He discovers that he has forgotten his tobacco, and he becomes irritable at the boys’ restlessness. As his tension grows, so does the tension in the story. The story climaxes when the enraged fisherman realizes that somehow, despite his routine and careful planning, the skiff is irretrievably gone. </li></ul>Climax
  • 6. Themes <ul><li>The fisherman in “The Ledge” portrays the theme of mortality. He fools himself into thinking that he can defy death…that he is immortal. His sense of pride, and his assumption that he is able to dominate nature is what lead him to act as if he is invincible. The fisherman never allowed himself to appear weak or vulnerable. The story suggests the theme of mortality and man’s desire to defy death, particularly in the end when the fisherman’s wife describes her lifeless husband as “absolved of his mortality.” </li></ul><ul><li>Another theme in “The Ledge” is the vulnerability of children. There were many dangers on the fisherman’s hunting trip, but he overlooked those and brought the boys because he believed they were ready to become men. They are only thirteen and fifteen, but he allows them to handle and shoot their own guns. He disregards that his nephew is unable to swim and takes the boys out to sea on a day most men would not venture out. The fisherman’s wife would like her boy to be more sensitive than his father and wants a more protected life for them. However, the fisherman treats the boys roughly and dismisses the dangers and risks he takes as “woman’s fears.” The fisherman has no tolerance for the boys when they act like the children they are, and he bullies them into acting as adults. In the end, however, his gentler treatment of the boys and the image of the son on his father’s shoulders, waiting to drown, is a tragic reversal. Now, when it is too late to consider that he has put the boys at undue risk, the fisherman is protective and tender with them. By showing this contrast, the story highlights the theme of the vulnerability of children. </li></ul>Mortality Vulnerability of Children Other Themes: Man’s Relationship with Nature Masculinity
  • 7. <ul><li>“ The Ledge”, written by the master story writer, Lawrence Sargent Hall, was inspired by an actual occurrence at Harpswell Neck, Maine in 1956. Hall won the prestigious O.Henry Award for this gripping and emotional tale. Filmed off the coast of Maine, not far from where Hall once lived on Orr’s Island, the stark yet vivid setting mirrors the author’s detailed descriptions of the rough lifestyle of a fisherman and hunter on the perilous waters of the Atlantic. </li></ul>Starring Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep as the fisherman and his wife. With as Freddie Highmore and Adam Hicks as the son and nephew. Feature Film: &amp;quot;The Ledge&amp;quot;
  • 8. <ul><li>Directed by Clint Eastwood , Award-winning actor and director. Eastwood transforms Hall’s meticulously crafted story into a riveting film that stirs every sense. His artistry and eye for detail brings to life this intense, raw, and haunting drama. “The Ledge” is destined to be the most talked about film of 2011. </li></ul>&amp;quot;The Ledge&amp;quot;: A Monumental Movie
  • 9. <ul><li>Roger Ebert Gives Two Thumbs Up! </li></ul><ul><li>Film Review of “The Ledge” </li></ul><ul><li>De Niro delivers an intense and captivating performance in this visually rich and deep drama of a man’s illusions as he challenges the forces of nature. Eastwood’s artistic attention to vital details-- Christmas day, eggs sunny side up, the pierce of a gunshots, well worn boots in a rising tide--lure the viewer to a mounting tension with an unpredictable ending that leaves more questions than answers. In a dark and disturbing way, this film is quietly unsettling and real. This movie is certain to be discussed long after the curtain closes. </li></ul>
  • 10. Literally O February 2011 First Edition <ul><li>Inside our first edition: </li></ul><ul><li>-Preview Oprah’s top pick for all-time best short story, “The Ledge”, by Lawrence Sargent Hall. </li></ul><ul><li>-Check out Oprah’s reviews and join reader’s online discussions of this captivating, award-winning tale. </li></ul><ul><li>-Learn how the professor turned author, Lawrence Hall, has made a lasting mark on the literary world </li></ul><ul><li>-Get an insider look at the highly acclaimed Eastwood movie based on this provocative story </li></ul>&amp;quot;The Ledge&amp;quot; $3.95 Cover price Read Oprah&apos;s Top Pick: “ The shrinking ledge, so sinister from a boat, grew dearer minute by minute as though the whole world he gazed on from horizon to horizon balanced on its contracting rim.”

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