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The Stone Boy


The Stone Boy begins with two brothers, Eugene (eldest) and Arnold (youngest) ... Their hearts are also like stone towards the young boy. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Stone Boy

The Stone Boy
  • by
  • Gina Berriault

  • The Stone Boy begins with two brothers, Eugene
    (eldest) and Arnold (youngest) sleeping in their
    beds. Arnold wakes up and sees that his brother
    Eugene (also called Eugie) is still sleeping in
    the bed. Arnold jumps on Eugie to wake him and
    remind him of his promise to pick peas with him.
    Arnold goes downstairs to get his .22-caliber
    rifle and the bullets because he expects to go
    duck shooting on his way to the garden. Eugene
    finally wakes up, and decides to tell Arnold that
    it is not duck season. The two brothers leave the
    house. On their way to the garden they come
    across the wire fence that separates the
    wheatfield from the marshy pasture around the
    lake. Eugene goes through the fence first, but
    once Arnold goes through the fence his rifle gets
    caught in the wires, as he jerks to free the
    rifle a shot fires from the mouth of the
    .22-caliber rifle. Arnold feels very foolish and
    lifts his face expecting to be made fun of by his
    brother Eugie, but Eugie does not turn around or
    speak. He simply slumps to the ground. Arnold
    sees a spot of blood behind his brothers neck, he
    then tries to wake Eugie up, but once he realized
    it was not working he went to the garden alone
    and picked the peas. Arnold arrives home an hour
    later and tells his parents that Eugene is dead.
    Arnold does not mourn for his brother or show any
    signs of grief or guilt.

  • Arnold 9 year old boy who accidentally shoots
    his brother. He feels like he is inferior to his
    older brother Eugene, he looks up to Eugene. He
    is very naïve.
  • Eugene The 15 year old young man who is killed
    by his brother. He is very subordinate when it
    comes to waking up in the morning. Eugie likes to
    mock his little brother.
  • Nora Eugene and Arnolds sister. She stays close
    to her parents and spends a lot of time in the
    kitchen with her mother. Nora has resentment
    towards Arnold after the death of Eugene.
  • Sheriff He is not very sympathetic. He has an
    aggressive personality.
  • Mrs. Curwing She takes care of the house, the
    children, and her husband.
  • Mr. Curwing Works hard to take care of his
    family. He does not want Arnold to feel left out.
    He is mourning, but he still loves Arnold despite
    everything. (Pass it to Arnold) (pg. 394)
  • Uncle Andy Mrs. Curwings brother. He was very
    fond of Eugie because he resembled him.

Critical Questions
  • 1. What is the significance of the title?
  • The title of the story signifies Arnolds
    attitude toward his brother and the familys
    attitudes toward Arnold. Arnold did not mourn or
    look like he was upset about his brothers death.
    The narrator does not reveal to the reader if, in
    fact, Arnold was hurt about the situation. It
    seems as though Arnold has a heart of stone (hard
    and cold). The family treats Arnold like an
    outcast because of his actions. Their hearts are
    also like stone towards the young boy. It also
    had to do with how the body turns to stone after
    it ceases to be alive.
  • 2. How is the story told?  Who is the
    narrator?  What perspective is used?  What is the
    tone of the language?  Is the narrator reliable?
  • The story is told from a third person,
    limited point of view Arnolds thoughts are the
    only ones that are shared, everything is seen
    through Arnolds mind.
  • The narrator is unknown.
  • 3. Look closely at the opening and ending.  On
    what does the author and narrator focus?
  • At the beginning of the story the author
    focuses mainly on the love/hate relationship that
    Arnold has for his brother because he feels
    inferior to him. The author really tries to focus
    on the relationship that the two brothers have.
    At the end of the story the author focuses on the
    fact that there is no longer a relationship with
    Arnold and anyone in the family. The author
    focuses on the fact that Arnold no longer has his
    brother to look up to so he will try to walk in
    his footsteps. (He goes up to get the cow, it was
    always Eugies job) (pgs. 394-395)

  • 4. How does the character transform in the
  • Arnold transforms from a naïve and gay young
    man to a young man who is afraid of his emotions
    and feelings. He does not know how to feel or
    behave because his family is not showing him any
    love or support, they make him feel like he is
    not there, like maybe he, too, is dead.
  • 5. What is the major theme of the story? 
    Explicate.  Are there any minor
  • themes?
  • The major theme of the story is death.
    Eugene dies, physically, at the beginning of the
    story. The family dies emotionally after Arnold
    fatally shoots Eugie. Arnold loses a major part
    of his life, not just his brother, but his male
    role model, hence the young adult that he would
    have become dies with Eugie. His life will now
    take on a new direction. Arnold and his family
    are distant from each other, he speaks about how
    he did all of his chores and stayed away from the
    family all day. (pg. 391) The minor theme is the
    familys attitude toward a young man that they
    are suppose to love. It shows how people can act
    when bad things happen, how they can turn against
    one another in times of mourning and pain.
  • 6. Are there any allusions in the story that
    could add meaning to your interpretation? No

  • 7.What are the symbols or other figurative
    elements in the story?
  • In the story it says that Outside
    everything was still. . .as if they moved and
    breathed in the daytime and fallen silent with
    the lateness of the hour. Meaning that Arnolds
    family were happy when everything was going good
    for the family, but as soon as something bad
    happened (darkness fell) they got silent and
    resentful towards Arnold.
  • In the story it says that Arnold was
    lying on his back. . .like a baby. . .Eugie was
    sprawled on top of him. Arnold is feeling the
    burden of Eugenes death and, like a baby, he can
    not control his feelings and emotions so he
    mourns the best way he knows how.
  • Peas represent unbearable situations.
    (Mother in the kitchen, Eugene dying on their way
    to pick peas)
  • The Gun symbolizes death.
  • The wire fence symbolizes Arnolds
    struggle to get through a very bad situation.
    (his familys resentment and accepting the loss
    of a brother/role model)
  • The morning and the sun symbolize a heavy
    burden and the dawn of more trouble.
  • The lantern that Arnolds father is
    carrying represents Mr. Curwings love for
    Arnold. He wants to love and accept his son
    (pass it to Arnold) (pg, 394). His fathers
    love and light is the only light that Arnold can
    see at the moment.
  • 8. What seems to be the author's primary
    goal/purpose in writing this short story?
  • The Author writes this story to inform the
    reader that people mourn differently and just
    because someone is not mourning externally does
    not mean they do not care or dont give a hoot
    that person is most likely feeling a burden of
    guilt or internal pain. The writer wants the
    reader to understand that turning against family
    in the time of mourning is not healthy for the
    family. It is better to try to understand the
    different ways that people mourn and if a person
    is not crying on the outside, that person may
    need someone to talk to because they have things
    on the inside that they need to let out.

  • 9. What is your reaction to this story?  How does
    your reaction influence your reading?
  • Tiffany The reaction was sadness, and a sense of
    abandonment from the family.
  • Brooke My reaction to the story was shock and
    sadness. I do not understand how a family can be
    so cruel to a 9 year old little boy who is
    obviously in need of some special attention. The
    fact that Arnolds family treats him so bitterly
    hurt me more than the death of Eugene. It was an
    accident. The reaction influenced my reading in
    that I was more sympathetic toward Arnold and not
    the family. I felt some anger against the family
    for their actions.