The Withered Arm Summary

Topics: Thomas Hardy

Two Europeans, Kayerts and Carlier work on an outpost in Africa. They work for a Belgian ivory trading company. The outpost is very isolated, and the men must have their supplies/food delivered by boat. At the station work ten black natives and Makola. He is the storekeeper and lives at the station with his wife. At first Kayerts and Carlier are working very hard. They want to get very rich, but after a while they become lazy. One day, Makola sells the ten African workers as slaves for a lot of ivory.

Kayerts and Carlier don’t do anything about this deal. /don’t try and stop this trade. They accept the fact, that people were traded for ivory. In this situation, you can see that Makola is the real chief/boss of the station. Kayerts and Carlier are too irresponsible/inexperienced, so Makola now runs the outpost. When the natives, living around them, hear of people being traded as slaves, they become scared.

They stop supplying the station with food and supplies. Kayerts and Carlier soon suffer from hunger, as the boat which supplies them doesn’t come for months.

They/The men become ill and frustrated. At the end of the story they have an argument, that ends tragically. Kayerts accidently kills Carlier because of some sugar he wants to have in his tea. On the next day, before the boat arrives, Kayerts kills himself/commits suicide. 2. This book is both a psychological thriller and a political statement.

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Written in 1896, Joseph Conrad gives an account of two white traders, Carlier and Kayerts, who are out- posted in Africa at a trading station. Although the Europeans do trade goods, their underlying purpose is to export “civilization,” from Europe to Africa.

Carlier and Kayerts are living in colonial times. England and other European countries have control over Africa. The native people are seen as in need of being civilized. 3. As the steamer that drops them off fades into the distance, Carlier and Kayerts already begin to feel uneasy. Out in the jungle with no other Europeans to support their views about the world, they sense that they are out of their element, and not up to the task they have been assigned. Their predecessor lies….. 4. Summary 5. Kayerts and Carlier are put in charge of a remote and . unpromising trading station on a river. Its previous agent 7. died of fever and his grave, marked by a cross, forms part 8. of the outpost. The director of the trading company, who 9. predicts their failure, leaves them with enough provisions 10. to last for the six months until his envisaged return. Makola, 11. ‘a civilized nigger’ who lives with his family on the outpost, 12. is responsible for the acquisition and storage of ivory and is 13. in charge of the ten black men working (not very effectively) 14. at the post.

The other group of natives, ‘Father’ Gobila’s 15. people, are friendly and provide the station with local 16. supplies. When a group of fierce-looking black strangers 17. appears in the compound, Makola behaves very strangely 18. and makes clandestine arrangements to sell the ten station 19. men to the strangers in return for six beautiful tusks that 20. are deposited in the yard. It gradually dawns on Kayerts 21. and Carlier that they have become involved in a terrible 22. crime, but after discarding their initial pangs of guilt are 23. omforted by the thought of lucrative commissions on the 24. ivory. The steamer is late, their provisions are running low 25. and the physical and mental state of the two white men 26. deteriorates rapidly. Demoralized by a quarrel over the last 27. lumps of sugar, they begin to fight, and Kayerts shoots the 28. unarmed Carlier in what he believes to be self-defence. 29. When the steamer finally arrives, the director discovers 30. Kayerts’s body hanging from the cross with his tongue 31. disrespectfully stuck out at him. Withered arm In a novel structured around contrasts, the main opposition is between Swithin St Cleeve and Lady Viviette Constantine, who are presented as binary figures in a series of ways: aristocratic and lower class, youthful and mature, single and married, fair and dark, religious and agnostic…she [Lady Viviette Constantine] is also deeply conventional, absurdly wishing to conceal their marriage until Swithin has achieved social status through his scientific work, which gives rise to uncontrolled ironies and tragic-comic misunderstandings (Harvey 108). | ”| Hardy’s stories take into onsideration the events of life and their effects. Fate plays a significant role as the thematic basis for many of his novels. Characters are constantly encountering crossroads, which are symbolic of a point of opportunity and transition. Far From the Madding Crowd tells a tale of lives that are constructed by chance. “Had Bathsheba not sent the valentine, had Fanny not missed her wedding, for example, the story would have taken an entirely different path. ”[13] Once things have been put into motion, they will play out. Hardy’s characters are in the grips of an overwhelming fate. [edit] Poetry

Thomas Hardy was born and grew up near Dorchester in the county town of Dorset. Dorset was the inspiration of most of his work although he did include areas such as Devon, Somerset, Cornwall, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Various stories written by Thomas Hardy have been based, borrowed and enhanced from experiences told to many generations of the Hardy family. The areas the stories are set around are a fictional country called Wessex, based on the area he lived up in. By setting the stories in an area well known to Hardy he is able to go into detail, but also make them sound as realistic as possible.

Hardy even uses the regional dialect to bring his stories to life and make the reader think they are there. By locating the stories in the countryside, Hardy gives the stories a slower, more relaxed way of life, with different values to those illustrating inner city life. The countryside generally consists of a closer network of people compared to the city life, because of the smaller more involved community, people may care more of what other individuals think of them which generates the different values, principles and morals.

From the story, ‘The Withered Arm’, I have chosen to investigate the character, Rhoda Brook. In the story, Rhoda plays an interesting character, motivated by her initial jealously towards other people. Rhoda’s character is one that develops throughout the story. Hardy lets his readers imagine what Rhoda looks like as he gives little description of her physical appearance. He does state that she is tall from the quote, ‘a€¦and if she’s tall – as tall as I’ taken from page 2.

He also reveals she has dark eyes, a quote from page 5 follows ‘Her eyes, then, are not dark like mine? ‘ This can be perceived in two slightly different ways. The obvious first is that of a physical feature. The second less apparent characteristic is of a devious, manipulative and possibly scheming aspect, perhaps based on her own personality. It is clear that Rhoda does not have the choice to work or not, and, later it becomes apparent that she lives on her own with her son, who is around the age of twelve.

Rhoda is determined to ensure that her son admires her. His personal view of his mother is important to her; she may feel threatened by Farmer Lodges new wife and this maybe the reason why she sent her son out to see what she looks like. This inflicts a shallow, insecure view of herself, in that she believes physical characteristics are more significant than personality. As a mother it is important to Rhoda to protect her son from any idol gossip he may hear about her from the village where they live. This is possibly why they moved away.

However, at the beginning of the story when the milking maids were talking about Rhoda and Framer Lodge she did not seem too worried about what other people thought of her. She wishes to keep her son away from anything that may encourage him to resent her. Rhoda’s relationship towards the male characters in the story is barely existent. Rhoda avoids conversation with most males. This may have something to do with past experiences; perhaps she had been hurt from previous relationships and now avoids any contact with the opposite sex.

She possesses a great amount of hatred towards Farmer Lodge this may be, for not accepting or acknowledging her sibling on the account of their failed relationship. The only positive relationship Rhoda has with a male character in the story is her son, Jamie. The first impressions of Rhoda are noticeably different to the ones found whilst looking into her character more intensely. My personal first impressions of her were of a woman driven by jealously and the need to be in control of every situation. However, looking further into her disposition she simply has an insecure view of situations.

To outside people she may come across as a strong character, though deep down, she is more emotional than the male characters in the story. Rhoda rarely involves herself with any conversation, however she is respectful towards other people, though on occasions she does misinterpret situations, which may be looked upon as disrespectful. This can be interpreted from the pages 9 to 10, where upon Gertrude appears at Rhoda’s house from some boots from her son. By the way Rhoda acts towards Gertrude implies to the reader that she is jealous and embarrassed, as she cannot provide for her own offspring.

Another reason why Rhoda may have come across as disrespectful to Gertrude is because of her own fear of her son rejecting her. Within the small community in which Rhoda lives, other women view Rhoda as an outcast. From the beginning of the story in the cow dairy Thomas Hardy makes it clear to the reader that Rhoda is not very involved with local gossip and that perhaps she lacks communication with other people. An example of this is at the start in the dairy, when there is much conversation going on about Farmer Lodge, Rhoda does not get involved.

This is reiterated when members of the cow dairy begin to talk about Rhoda behind her back. Rhoda makes no effort to confront these comments and presumably carries on with her work. Rhoda barely goes into her local parish and market, and usually sends her son to do any odd jobs for her. She says to him on page 2, ‘I shall send you for a few things to marketa€¦’ Rhoda and her son, also live considerably far away from the market, this was taken from, ‘a€¦your house is the nearest outside our own parish. This may imply that Rhoda and her son live in the middle of two different parishes, or perhaps she does not live within a parish, both these suggestions cause difficulties for Rhoda if ever she wanted to be more involved with community events. Rhoda’s quirky character varies a lot, from other females that live within the network where she lives and works. However I feel there is a strong connection between Rhoda and Gertrude, in that they are both strong outcasts in the community. Event though much they may dispute it, their characters are very alike. The narrative viewpoint differs from each story. The Son’s Veto’ and ‘The Withered Arm’ are written by using an omniscient narrator, which is a use of narrator that is not a character within the story. Whereas, ‘Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver’ uses first person narrative. 1st person narrative is when the story is told by one of the characters point of view. This may seem more friendly and authentic because of the use of the local regional dialect. However by using one character to explain the story we can only experience and explore their feelings and point of view, which gives a biased and perhaps fiction analysis over situations.

The omniscient style of narrative sees everything, which gives an unbiased view of what is happening in the story they are more truthful and factual then the use of a 1st person narrative. Depending on the different personalities of the readers’ influences the way they read and interpret different styles of writing. To some people omniscient narrative encourages them to sympathise towards particular characters, as they are aware of everything that is happening and all the different feelings from the characters are expressed, generated and articulated.

However other readers may feel that because all the feelings of all the characters are expressed they are basic and therefore find it difficult sympathise and relate to any of the characters. 1st person narrative only gives the viewpoint from one character, this may encourage the reader to sympathise with the character telling the story as it persuades them that they are involved in the story, as the character is talking directly to them.

However certain people may find it hard to sympathise with this style of writing as it may promote the curiosity of how other characters are feeling and as a consequence may cause the reader to reject the character telling the story. This can be related to the story, ‘Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver’ as the story ends we begin to feel a great amount of anxiety towards Tony because of the way he treats Milly. We do not sympathise with Tony. Whilst comparing and contrasting these stories I have noticed similarities and differences between them.

Each character has strong and weak points about their personality. Rhoda is weak because she doesn’t want to get hurt, Sophy is weak because she moved away from her village to avoid public mockery and Milly is weak for accepting Tony’s marriage proposal knowing that she wasn’t his first choice. However Rhoda is strong because she does not care what people think about her, she tends to rise above gossip also she is a single mother and has raised her child on her own. Sophy is strong because she has carried on living her life despite what happened to her after her accident.

Milly is also strong because she has shown that despite how Tony has treated her she has stood up and shown she loves him by saying she will marry him. Rhoda and Sophy have learnt to put other people before themselves because each of them have children this may encourage them to be less selfish and learn to accept they cannot have everything in life. These two characters are different to the image and role of women during Hardy’s time. All the women have experienced failed relationships by the lack of commitment. Each of the women has become second best and has not experienced true love because of this.

Sophy made sacrifices for her son, Rhoda has become second best to Gertrude and Milly was third best to Unity and Hannah. All the characters are perhaps viewed negatively by the local community. The character I respect the most is Rhoda because of her out going personality and the fact does not care what people think of her. In this essay I have investigated three main characters from the stories, ‘ The Withered Arm’, ‘Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver’ and ‘The Son’s Veto’. From this I have been able to identify any differences and similarities between the characters.

The different female roles Hardy has explored through these short stories are realistic and believable, fore the particular time he has chosen to set them in. He has written about different situations and chosen carefully the types of personalities his characters will have. H. employs specific narrative techniques: he established historical distance Adopted a narrative technique called intradiegetical discourse which deploys an alternative internal narrator to the task of telling the tale. (local Historian, old surgeon,) He is master of this mode of discourse Narration structure:

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The Withered Arm Summary
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