Life In Richard Ford's Optimists

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Richard Ford’s “Optimists” tells the story of Frank, the protagonist, who is learning to realize that the most important things in life can change suddenly without notice and without recovery. Frank is a boy of fifteen years old whose father, Roy Brinson, works for the Great Northern Railway. One day Roy comes home from work unexpectedly after he sees a man get caught under the train and hopelessly watches him die. His wife comforts him while one of the guests that are over their house scorns him for not trying harder to save the man’s life. Roy is aggravated and ends up killing the man with a hard hit to the chest, changing his and his family’s lives forever. Ford implies that taking action without thinking results in consequences that impact…show more content…
He had liked his job at the time because it “paid high wages and the work was not hard, and because you could take off days when you wanted to” (33). All of this suddenly changes when something terrible happens. A tragedy occurs with the death of a man and his relationship with his job is never the same. After everything is said and done, Roy returns to the railroad where he eventually “fell off” (39) and has a “divorce” with his wife (39). He is never again the same. He turns to a life of “drinking…gambling, embezzling money, even carrying a pistol” (39). His job turns his life upside down in the matter of one bad incident and one bad choice. When he was in jail that first night after killing Boyd. He was told that he doesn’t “belong in jail” (38). He realizes that he had done something terrible and that things will probably never be like they used to, and he was right. The death of the man was uncontrollable by Roy. The man tried to get away but it seems as if it was his time to die. The “whole cut buckled”(35) which made the “hobo” (35) lose his “balance just when he hit the gravel, and he fell backwards underneath” (35). No matter what the “hobo” (35) did, he just could not seem to get away from “boxcar” (35). There was nothing Roy could have done to prevent this from happening. It just

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