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By Anne Tyler


Evie Decker is a shy, a bit of plump teen, lonely and silent. yet her quiet lifestyles is shattered whilst she hears the voice of Drumstrings Casey at the radio and turns into immediately interested in him. She manages to fulfill him, bursting out of her lonely shell--and into the attentive gaze of the intangible guy who turns into all too real....

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In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne recognized the normative function of allotting portions of common land for these purposes: “The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison” (49). The Orchard Keeper draws our attention to both functions of allotment. Through most of the book, a drifter named Kenneth Rattner lies dead in an insecticide pit, murdered (perhaps) and not properly buried.

If we follow Wallach’s lead, it is easy to see that chronologically the movement begins with the establishment of the Mexican-American border after a war, and ends with the building of highways to effect—through the North American Free Trade Agreement—a significant erasure of that border. Looking back to John Wesley Rattner and Cornelius Suttree’s departures for points West, we see that their territory reaches limits. The frontier crossed by the Glanton gang becomes the border crossed by John Grady Cole and Billy Parham.

The body’s location in an insecticide pit extends this irony. What would normally hold poison for insects in a peach orchard holds instead the dead insectile body of a man; what would mark the boundary of the proper cemetery works in a metaphorical sense to contain The Orchard Keeper’s living characters as well as the dead. The appearance of the fence to the reader of this novel serves as a structural boundary; it delays and then allows the departure of the young antinomian, John Wesley Rattner.

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