Mule Killers

1077 Words5 Pages
Progress Does Not Always Lead to a Better Life

Life, in the primitive sense of the word, means moving through time towards inevitable death. Progression, by definition, means development towards a destination or more advanced state. Life in the emotional aspect explores love, and with love there will always be shortcomings and complexities. Progression, life, destruction, and love are themes in the short story Mule Killers by Lydia Peelle. The short story is a story within a story, and it is first person narration from the point of view of a son retelling the story of his father and his grandfather. The story thereby tells the stories of three different generations of men. The setting is in Nashville Tennessee, the time period is
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When the son tells the story he reveals that to develop is not necessarily a good thing, “three weeks after the last load of mules is taken, one of the tractors overturns on a hill down by the river and nearly kills one of the hands” (3). As soon as the town drove all the mules out and replaced them with tractors it backfired-- a helper was almost killed. The son then goes on to say “it is not an unexpected tragedy” (3), alluding that the father and grandfather did not really want to progress but had to, and foresaw bad things to occur. This quote can also be a parallel to the family as the son was an “acciden,”, one that could have been predicted since there is no love in the family. The grandfather drives the help to the hospital and on his way home there was a car crash, upon seeing his son (the father) he says: “Son, you’re gonna see a future I can’t even stretch my mind around. Not any of it. I can’t even begin to imagine” (4). The grandfather is scared of the future and doubtful of the progress that is happening, right after the father tells him he is going to have a child, another tragedy that day. Both accidents demonstrate to them that progress is not always bettering the state of ones life; the mule killers almost killed someone, and, similarly, starting a new generation in the family was a mistake.
In that both the grandfather and the father hope to progress in their lives, to be part of industrialization and to gain control of
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