Carson McCuller’s “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud” and a Deconstruction of the Word Picture

663 words | 3 page(s)

In Carson McCuller’s short story entitled “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud,” the themes of lost love, failure, and unkind human actions abound. The themes of this short story are carried on its descriptions of that lost love, of the failures of the beer-drinking man, and through the description of the apathy of Leo as well as the paper boy. The words of this story give it the meaning and the depth of a meaningful account of many forms of human nature.

One of these words in this tale-in-a-tale that carries with it both direct and implied meaning is the term picture. This word is first introduced when the beer-drinking café patron shows the paper boy an image of a woman; the woman, it turns out, is the beer-drinking man’s former wife. The man has two pictures of this woman, both of which are shown to the paper boy without much reaction on his part. These physical pictures represent the beer-drinking man’s lost love, his lost lost life. Beyond this obvious use of the term, the story itself paints a picture of a sad man mourning the loss of what he perceived as his best life and sharing this loss with an unwilling bystander, the paper boy. The actions of this man and boy are sad ones, a sad picture, so to speak. Additionally, and quite interestingly, the beer-drinking man’s story is set within the story of the paper boy – a picture-in-a-picture, so to speak. The symbolism here is difficult to deny.

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"Carson McCuller’s “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud” and a Deconstruction of the Word Picture".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

Beyond this story, though, the term picture holds nearly an endless array of meanings, both direct and implied. For example, dictionaries all state something similar when defining the word picture: a visual representation of something or a mental representation of some sort. There are also literal picture definitions, such as that of a photograph, a painting, a movie, or a scene. Less literal and more abstract are meanings for the term when used as a verb, as in creating a scene or mental image or depicting something. Regarding the parts of speech and this word, he term picture can be used as a nouns, as in “Let me see that picture,” as a verb, as in “Can you picture her wearing that hat with those boots?” or less commonly as an adjective, as in “The whole vacation was picture-perfect.” It is a versatile word that can also be skewed into an adverb with a bit of effort, as in “He created the salad picturably.”

Etymology of the term picture indicates that in English, the work is derived from Latin in the fifteenth century and stems from pictura, which means a painting. This makes sense, considering the most common use for this term in English is as a representation of a visual object.

Less common uses for this term, whether symbolic or literal, can be found in all phases and aspects of the English language. Consider the common saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This phrase, commonly used to describe a visual representation as superior to a verbal one, is used in today’s technologically-driven society. Consider Facebook, SnapChat, and other social media – pictures and/or pictures combined with words dominate the current preferred cultural communicative method.

Pictures as a physical entity (photographs, paintings, other images) are also used to assist those people who enjoy looking back in time over their own past or the past of others. After all, a picture must represent the past, it cannot represent the future. It can represent an idea wbout what the future might hold or might look like, but it can only be concrete in its representation of the past. Aleksandar Hemjon in The Lazarus Project said of this constraint in the meaning of the term: “When I look at my old pictures, all I can see is what I used to be but am no longer. I think: What I can see is what I am not.”

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now