February 23rd, 2015
Diane Zoell An Exploration of “Traplines” Traplines is a story about a young man named Will. He lives in a small village outside of a town in which he attends school. Will is a seemingly intelligent boy whose life is hindered by a dysfunctional family. The main antagonist in the story is Will's brother, Eric, who is an abusive drug addict. There are positive influences in Will’s life, such as the Smythe family who is supportive of Will and seems to be looking out for him. Though, due to Will’s damaged psyche from constant abuse, Will is very guarded around them and is skeptical of their real intentions in helping him. Traplines is a story about Wills journey to find a safe place when he is always trapped by his surroundings and his actions.
The author of the story, Eden Robinson, uses metaphors, irony and foreshadowing to convey the theme of a vicious cycle in which Will is constantly unable to escape his abusive lifestyle.
The name given to the main character Will is ironic because will is the quality that Will is lacking.
Will is given a significant opportunity to escape his abusive lifestyle but does not take it because he is afraid that the Smythes will get bored of him and regret the adoption. At first glance, this would come across as a consequence of Wills mistrust of townies in general, but the
Smythes have been nothing but trustworthy throughout the whole story. They do not come across as fake as they have little arguments like any married couple, and do not attempt the illusion of perfection. Will only lacks the willpower to make a serious change in his life, especially if there is any possibility of life getting worse. Another example is when Will is hitching, and Eric comes by in his friend's car. Will run off into the trees and hide, only to emerge when the police show
up. He does not mention that his brother was chasing him with intent to physical do harm. He hides behind the protection of the police car fully knowing that the situation will only worsen after Eric is released as shown in this quote “Eric’s eyes are on me. I am going to pay for this.”
Robinson uses foreshadowing throughout the story to build characters and set up ideas.
One case is when we see Eric eating bread like an animal. “ Eric leaves and comes back with six buns. He wolfs them down, cramming them into his mouth”. (442) Eric’s animalistic way of eating his food foreshadows his brutal abuse and capability for savagery. A second scenario is early in the story when Will and his father are sitting in the car. “He sings along with the woman who left her husband even that does not make him mad. [...] at least for now there will be no shouting in the house. It will take Mom and Dad a few days to find something else to fight about”. (441) This relief in Wills narration foreshadows his family abusive tendencies. This foreshadowing focused on abuse puts the theme of a vicious inescapable cycle of violence on display, showing the reader that abusive parents will lead to abusive children.
The title Traplines is a metaphor referring to