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Just like that or Indiancamp
The short story is called “Just like that” and it is written by Michael Richards. He is a photographer and a filmmaker. He lives in Australia and he has made a book of short stories which he calls “Writings from Australia” where this short story can be found.
The short story is about a young boy and he is probably about 13 years old. The boy and a man (probably his father) go to the outback of Australia to hunt roos. The boy wants to become a man and according to him, the boy is going to shoot some of the roos. First the man makes an example of how to do it and it is like he enjoys it. But then it is the boy´s turn and when he shoots a kangaroo he feels nothing inside, meaning that he does not feel like a man. In the end he falls on his knees and says that he feels nothing. Then he points his rifle at the man.
It all takes place in the outback of Australia and it all happens in a day. It is a harsh environment which supports some of the themes, for example becoming a man.
In this short story there are two persons. The boy which is main character and the man which probably is his father, but we really don’t know that for sure. The man is trying to teach the boy to shoot with a rifle. The boy really wants to become a man, but he is quite nervous about it. He looks up to the man, but gets a whole deferent picture of him because he realizes that it is wrong to shoot innocent animals. The boy really develops throughout the story because, first he just does as the man tells him to do, but in the end he points the rifle at the man because he is angry and he could not do that at first. At a point in the story the boy loses something inside of him, he loses something of himself because he sees it is not right to do as the man does: “The boy watched in silence. He watched while the man strolled among the cripples blessing each with his wand. The boy didn´t move to assist. He waited while the man shot each kangaroo in the brain. Something inside the boy died.” 1This shows how the boy feels about the man in the end and how the boy develops.
The man is cold and hard as a rock. He does all the killing just to have fun. He likes to have power, might and life and death in his hand. The boy looks up to him because he can do what he does. If the man is the boy’s father he is not a good father. He pushes the boy to his limits and he does not speak to the boy about emotions and how to boy feels.
The story starts in medias res and the plot is that the man instructs the boy in how to shoot. The ending is an open ending because we don’t know if he is going to shoot the man. The boy thinks he becomes a man by shooting the kangaroos, but gets disappointed. Maybe the boy finds out that he becomes a man when he shoots a “real” man.
There are a lot of themes in this story for example identity, growing up and roughness. The environment supports these themes a lot, because the outback is rough and it is harsh to grow up and especially in this way.
The message of this short story could be:
- Don´t take life for granted.
- You cannot choose when you become a man.
Just because you have the power to kill does not mean you have the right to.