Rodman the Keeper- The Introduction and Theme of Loss

A well-known short story called Rodman the Keeper depicts the confusion of a specific frontier, with each tale echoing an unrecoverable loss. In Woolson's tale, every action and occurrence is described from an omniscient point of view through the eyes of John Rodman. John Rodman, a veteran of the Union Army, is given the responsibility of managing a sizable cemetery that houses the remains of 14,000 troops. The passage in the ninth and tenth pages of the book introduces the subject of loss, which is the most notable and significant one.The substantial passage introduces the readers to John Rodman and his surroundings. Rodman is a keeper of many things among them being the remains of the soldiers who died under different circumstances in the battlefield, ledgers, clocks and other documents containing the information regarding the soldiers. The passage also provides an overview of Rodman’s surrounding, a cemetery holding many lost souls, most of whom died under the scorching sun while others were imprisoned.

The first passage goes ahead to describe a town near the cemetery. According to Woolson, despite the small proximity, the small town had turned its back on the cemetery. As Rodman walks through the town, he remembers how great it was before it fell; before the first gun was fired. The town was fresh, strong and filled with enthusiasm. However, currently, the residents of this region had undergone suffering, and the region had been destroyed.

Loss is the commonest theme that manifests in this passage. A cemetery is a symbol of lost life. Rodman was a keeper of the dead who mainly comprised of individuals who had lost their lives on the battlefield. The passage describes the circumstances in which the soldiers died and the nature of their resting place. The second type of loss is witnessed in the small town located near the cemetery. According to Woolson (p.10), the town was fresh, strong and filled with enthusiasm before the first gun was fired in April. However, based on Rodman’s description of the small urban area, the town had become ruins that was filled with suffering. Rodman notices that no fallen brick had been replaced, no paint applied, and no nail added (Woolson 10). The people in this residential area seemed to have lost hope. Finally, the cemetery was lost to everyone including the small town that had turned its back on it. Woolson’s short story is one of solitude where Rodman lives in loneliness in a neglected cemetery.

The relevance of the passage in the ninth and tenth pages of the piece of literature is that it sets the tone and the mood of the story. The passage describes the plot, setting and introduces the audience to the key character, Rodman. The themes that would dominate the entire story are also highlighted in the passage. The theme of loss, pessimism, and resistance to change are introduced in the passage and discussed in other parts of the story. Lastly, the passage is unique as it defines the techniques and style utilized by the author in the entire short story. Woolson utilizes a limited omniscient viewpoint whereby she enters the mind of the main character and narrates the entire story using him. In summary, the passage that stood out in Rodman the Keeper is one located in the first section of the story (page 9 and 10) not only due to its introductory nature but also due to the ability to define the direction of the entire story.

Work Cited

Woolson, Constance Fenimore. Rodman the Keeper: Southern Sketches. New York: Harper & brothers, 1880.

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