The Sweet Hereafter Analysis

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The Sweet Hereafter written by Russell Banks is in part a story about what happens to characters and a community in the small town of Sam Dent in New York after a bus crash that can only be seen as tragic, kills fourteen children and leaves the town and people in turmoil. This event begs the question as to who is to be blamed and how can one recover from a heavy loss like that of a child, like narrator Billy Ansel, or reputation as is the case of the first narrator, Dolores Driscoll. The story as a whole is broken down over the narration of four main characters, each with a unique perspective and tie to the bus wreck.
One of the easier ways for an author to tell a story with many emotional and plot facets is to place more than one perspective into the narration of their story. Russell Banks achieves this in The Sweet Hereafter by using narrators who become linked to the crash but main stories somewhat vere off the topic of the tragedy over the course of each narration while characters talk about the life they lead and internal motivations they have for the
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One question that seems to be a central theme of the book is “Who is to blame?” While each perspective in the story sheds light on the course of events that took place, the question is never given a concrete answer. Much like living in a small town where news travels fast and the community can be so close, the people that make it up may as well be one entity and popular perspectives of events can lead to a change in attitude in the incident itself as well as the attitude towards the people involved. Just as Dolores becomes the unofficial scapegoat in light of the incident, we gain more information about the wreck from each character but we are no closer to solving the question of who is to blame because even though we obtain more knowledge, we never gain

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