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Posted on May 7th, 2014, by

the disappointment in people, is described by Sherwood Anderson’s short story’ I Want to Know Why’.  The outstanding characteristic of this story is that Anderson manages to explore complex themes through the very simple style of writing. Anderson’s protagonist is the young boy as well as Faulkner’s. The main character is on a trip to Saratoga, New York with his friends. Again, confusion and hurt are the central pieces of the story. And the story is once more about the boy who faces with disillusionment.

Unfortunately, this time the fifteen-year-old Andersons narrator faces the sad reality of our life that not everyone can be trusted and be truly worthy of respect. The real life hero of the protagonist, the horse trainer Jerry Tillford, who was admired by the boy in the past, appears to be not as ideal as he appeared.  Thus, the tragedy experienced by the boy is obvious. Previously the boy adored his trainer and dreamed of a career related to horses:  I can’t help it, I’m crazy about thoroughbred horses. I’ve always been that way. When I was ten years old and saw I was growing to be big and couldn’t be a rider I was so sorry I nearly died’ (Anderson 3). He spends his days wanting to be a trainer or owner’.  (Anderson 5)

Thus, the tragedy of the disappointment described in’ I Want to Know Why’ is obvious.  Boy’s angst is dramatic: Then, all of a sudden, I began to hate that man. I wanted to scream and rush in the room and kill him. I never had such a feeling before. I was so mad clean through that I cried and my fists were doubled up so my finger nails cut my hands.’ (Anderson 8)

Faulkner’s Sartoris clearly searches for peace in his life, but the circumstances are so complicated. The boy appears to be in the centre of the conflict. For instance, the necessity to testify against owns father who was accused of burning down his landlord’s barn is not a normal situation for ten-year-old boy who is quite ignorant because of his youth.  The story created by William Faulkner inspires its readers by the demonstration of the process of disillusionment surrounded by the promises of the different life such as peace, joy, and dignity. But the boy realizes that the promises may not be realists and as he frees himself from his family, he understands that the better life isn’t available straight away, and positive expectations of the new life are not fulfilled immediately: Then he was free Then he was out of the room, out of the houseHe did not know it was midnight and he did not know how far he had come. But there was no glare behind him now and he sat now, his back toward what he had called home for four days anyhow… (Faulkner 24-25)

At the end of Faulkner’s story, Sartoris creates a paradoxical impression of a wise young boy. One of the reasons of this extreme transformation were the complex emotions that he has experienced and after these unfortunate events the protagonist decides to leave his old life behind and his dreams become for quieter, and more adult. He understands that the major value in life is a peace and it’s surprising but he manages to find the peace almost immediately after his escape from the family.

Finally, this boy, the protagonist, has to make a choice between right and wrong and he makes a decision not to return to his father and to live on his own: He was a little stiff, but walking would cure that too as it would the cold, and soon there would be the sun. He went on down the hill, toward the dark woods within which the liquid silver voices of the birds called unceasing – the rapid and urgent beating of the urgent heart of the late spring night. He did not look back. (Faulkner 25)

As for the major character of Sherwood Anderson’s short story’ I Want to Know Why’ his is clearly more ignorant and naïve than Faulkner’s boy. He experiences deep disappointment in his hero Jerry Tillford and tries to understand why such bright sportsman has demonstrated such shameful behavior. I keep thinking about it and it spoils looking at horses and smelling things and hearing niggers laugh and everything. Sometimes I’m so mad about it I want to fight someone. It gives me the fantods. What did he do it for? I want to know why.  (Anderson 5)This hero is also on the way to his wisdom but it’s only the beginning of the road for him.

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