Story analysis “The Ascent” by Ron Rash

Storyanalysis: “The Ascent” by Ron Rash

Thispaper offers a literary analysis of the short story “The Ascent”by an American author Ron Rash. In cases where people live in rich orwealthy environments, they are likely to forget that there are othersin the world that are underprivileged, and are living in lack of eventhe basic human needs. Rash’sshort story, TheAscent demonstrateshis prowess in writing literature, and it deals with the theme ofnarrating the profound family challenges and struggles, includingdrug addiction.


Anappalling factor that is witnessed in the short story underdiscussion is that a good number of people living in poverty are alsostruggling with challenges like drug abuse, which makes it hard forthem to come out of their miserable situation of deficiency. Suchpeople keep on dreaming and anticipating for change for a betterlife. More so, the poor people that engage in drug abuse tend to dothings and actions, which are harmful to themselves and others, justto get along or survive during moments of economic challenges.

Theshort story is about the life and experiences of a young boy, who isin the fifth-grade. The young boy, a protagonist in the story, isknown as Jared. He lives with his parents in a life of abjectpoverty. Besides being poor, the boy’s parents are also strugglingwith issues of drug abuse. It is evident from the story that theboy’s parents have a constant need of finding the next batch ofnarcotics to satiate their addiction. Clearly, Jared is unhappy withthe conditions of his life he prefers to spend time alone in thecold mountain forest than at their home with his parents. The authorstates, “Better to be outside on a cold day than in the house whereeverything, the rickety chairs, and sagging couch, the gaps, wherethe TV and the microwave had, felt sad” (279). From this shortstory, it is evident that such behavior is a resultant effect ofchallenges in most contemporary families, regarding both finance andhealth. As such, the author endeavours to express the plight ofchildren from families with parents that are drug addicts.

Rashis keen to capture the minds and the hearts of his readers bydescribing the situation of Jared’s family in an intelligentmanner. He indicates that at some point, Jared walks into their houseand finds his parents decorating a Christmas tree using papercuttings and kindling. Undeniably, this represents a devastatingsituation of astonishment to the readers seemingly, his parents hadlost touch with reality. The reader cannot help but think that theywere probably high at the time. As such, one could say that childrenof drug addicts grow up under distressing conditions of life, some ofwhich they wish they could change for the better. Because there isnothing much that the children can do, they have to accept and moveon with life as they know it. The mentioned sense of distress is seenin the story when Jared leaves his parents by themselves and heads tothe bedroom as soon as he finishes his evening meal. An analysis ofthe situation also shows that the author possibly meant to imply thatthe young boy was pitiful of his parents, and even observing theiractions as being nonsensical.

Insidethe crashed plane, Jared takes a diamond ring from the finger of adead woman. He takes it home but his father takes the ring from him,and soon takes off to the nearest pawnshop in town. It is alsoevident to readers that he was determined to fetch more narcotics.Even so, his father came home with some goodies for the family,denoting that despite his situation of drug addiction, he still hopedfor his family to have a better life. Jared is depicted as beingappreciative and seems to understand the predicament of his parents.His father also gets him a small gift and buys a real Christmas tree. Initially, Jared had hoped to give the ring to Lyndee, his crush,and a homeroom classmate. The author states, “Once he gave it toher Lyndee would finally like him, and it would be for real”(282). From this perspective, one cannot decline to note that the boywas in need of meaningful attachment in his social life, possiblybecause of lack of meaningful connection between him and his parents.

Thenarrator’s representation of Jared is a very smart andunderstanding boy, in spite of the circumstances of his family andbackground. Even though his father takes the diamond ring from him,he hardly holds it against him- a sign of understanding of theeconomic challenges he faces in life. Although he somewhat questionshis father’s motives regarding the ring, he soon gets over it andjoins his mother in decorating the sham Christmas tree. As forJared’s mum, she is more concerned with the feelings of his sonother than his physical well-being. This is shown by the fact thatthe boy makes the effort to wash a dish and serve himself food, whilehis mother’s mind is on giving him stories concerning angels.

Soonafter, Jared returns to the crash site and takes a Rolex watch fromthe wrist of a dead man on the plane. When he gets home, his parentsare so rapturous after seeing it. They get on their blue pickup andleave to town with it. It is surprising to the reader how Jared’sparents are not concerned about where he got the valuable objectsimplying that they are carefree, or they are merely overwhelmed withopportunities to acquire and use more drugs. They leave the young boyall by himself. Here the author possibly communicates thedisadvantages of substance abuse to his readers in that they makepeople forego their primary tasks and responsibilities in life. Atthat point, Jared opted to go back and mend the plane at the crashsite, taking a hammer and a wrench. The author uses Jared to show theimportance of making right choices in life. After engaging in someactivity with the tools on the crashed plane, the author indicatesthat he, “Dropped the hammer on the ground. He unlocked thepassenger ingress and got in” (287). He then speaks to the dead mansaying, “’I fixed it so it will fly now” (287). The young boyobserves whiteness of snow gathering, both above and below. He sobelieves that they were moving. At the end of the story, Rash writes,“He knew then that they had taken off and risen so high that theywere enveloped in a cloud, but still he looked down, waiting for theclouds to clear so he might look for the blue pickup, making its waythrough the snow, toward the place they were all headed” (287).


Indeed,the story particularly, in the end, implies that the young boydesired a change in life, or rather TheAscent.His action to repair the plane indicates the importance of effort andhard work in life his engagement of looking for the pickup, on theother hand, shows that he desired for his parents to ascend as well.As such, the author implied that in life, there may be struggles, butit is only hope that keeps people strong.


Rash,Ron.&nbspTheAscent.N. Y: Tin House print, 2004. Print.