Short Story: Rock Springs, By Richard Ford

Great Essays
Rock Springs, a short story by Richard Ford, tells a story of an unorthodox family travelling for unusual purposes. The story is told through the perspective of Earl, a morally ambiguous, yet endearing character who has to juggle fleeing authorities by stealing cars with providing a better future for his girlfriend, and two children. As a result, Earl’s character is an enigma; on the exterior, he resembles an ordinary father figure charged with protecting his family, but elements of his criminal background seep through in his dialogue with other characters, primarily with the aforementioned girlfriend, Edna. Through the usage of fantasies in the first person, Richard Ford keys reveals Earl’s unwillingness to deal with his current situation. …show more content…
With the Mercedes, a luxury car, Earl seems wealthy to himself. Earl “never had a good car in [his] life,” adding that they were, “old Chevy junkers and used trucks,”. With the image of old, used cars, the audience is keyed onto Earl’s life of poverty. Yet the Mercedes is the first car mentioned by Earl, and is the only one with any sorts of emotional connection. Due to the reputation of Mercedes as a luxury car, Earl gives off the impression of wealth, which is far from the truth. He uses the Mercedes as a temporary escape from his surroundings that reveal his true socioeconomic status. His fantasy makes him so happy that he goes onto say, “The car made us all high that day. I ran the windows up and down,”. Earl is enthralled by the Mercedes, and with the first person narration, Ford conveys the enjoyment Earl feels to the audience. Earl’s childish side shows through, when he “ran the windows up and down,”. The image of playing with a car window harkens back to an image of childhood innocence, where …show more content…
Earl tries to restart his life, again and again, but continues his cycle of stealing and lying. The gold mine is a quixotic dream, tempting him with a way to get rich, quickly too. Gold connotes wealth, and the mine is the source of said wealth. Earl is fascinated, and excitedly declares, “That’s it right there. It may mean we’re getting closer. Some people never see it at all,”. With his narration, he conveys a strong sense of optimism, evidenced by, “we’re getting closer,”. The narration indicates that Earl believes that Rock Springs was going to be the new start Earl looked for across the country. He believes gold’s association with wealth is somehow including him. He makes sure to convey the excitement onto the audience, and omits the more practical side of working in a mine. Earl is too caught up in the excitement about the new development as he thinks the mine could magically solve his problems in one fell swoop. The mine, much like the Mercedes and the ophthalmologist, provide Earl a distraction from his life. The gold mine seemed more possible as if anyone could go in and take what they wanted,”. To Earl, money is painfully easy to obtain, and he tries to convey it to his audience. He sees work as simple as, “anyone could go in,” grossly underestimating the amount of effort required. Earl convinces himself, and by extension, the audience, that he can make a living

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