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Earl’s Side-Trip, and What He Learned

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English 1110.04

Darrell Laird

Oct. 22, 2018

Sam Ryan

                        

                              Earl’s Side-Trip, and What he learned

In Richard Ford’s story Rock Springs, Earl takes a side-trip to a nearby mobile home park that is attached to a gold mine. Earl walks up to the first trailer in the park and knocks on the door, a black woman and her grandson answer the door. He explains to the women how his car has broken down and needs to borrow her phone to call a cab for his wife and daughter. The woman then invites Earl in to use the phone and Earl gets this sense of home from inside the trailer. Once Earl is done making the phone call he asks the woman about the plant that is attached to the trailer park. She tells him how it’s a gold mine and that her husband works there and, they get to live in the trailer with no cost for three months of the year. Earl then listens to the woman talk about the gold mine and her life and, he learns about the life that he could potentially have if he wasn’t always running from the law.

When Earl meets the woman, who lives in the trailer with her grandson he gets to know a little bit about her life and, her husband who works for the gold mine. He notices that the trailer is a big one with new furniture and something sweet cooking in the kitchen, “the trailer felt like it was somebody’s comfortable new home instead of just temporary” (640), which was the feeling that Earl was familiar with. All the trailers that Earl has lived in have “felt cramped and unhappy” (640) however, he might have just been the one who was unhappy. Earl then compliments her home, but the woman replies by saying “this isn’t our house, Mr. Middleton” (640). She explains that the company owns the trailers and they get to live in them for nothing. Earl thinks that this idea is wonderful however, the women claims, “it’s never wonderful when you have to be away from your home” (641). Earl though does not understand what this would feel like because he has never had a “forever” home. Earl then asks the women about the plant that is behind the trailer park, she tells him that it is a gold mine and that her husband works there as the assayer which controls the quality. She says that “he works three months a year, and we live the rest of the time at home in Rockford” (641). The woman tells Earl that before her husband has this job they were both unhappy people but now she says, “we’ll be kids again” (642).  After listening to the woman talk about her life and the gold mine she stands up to remind Earl that he shouldn’t miss his cab. Earl then stands up from siting on the recliner where “I’d been so comfortable” (642), again this being a feeling he is not used to. The woman then says to Earl “I’m sorry you didn’t meet my husband. He’s a wonderful man. He’s everything to me” (642). Earl then responds back to her by saying, “tell him I appreciate the phone” (642), “you saved me” (642). Earl is so shocked by how friendly and polite the woman has been to him, thinking to himself and knowing that he is on the run from the law. She even says to him, “you weren’t hard to save” (642), “saving people is what we were all put on earth to do. I just passed you on to whatever’s coming to you” (642). Earl is then so taken back from what he has learned from this woman that it makes him think about what life could be like if he wasn’t always on the run from the law.

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