Richter’s story allows the reader to see, through the innocent eyes of Jodie, how the times have changed from valuing our elderly to sending them off to be cared for by others; feeling as if they are a burden in their old age. When society loses the value in their elders, they tend to lose the value of love and family altogether. This story also shows us the value of true love; a love that endures even after death, which is a rare find indeed.
Richter portrays the average rural family dynamics during the late 1960’s; a simple farm family who is fulfilling their duty to visit their elderly in the nursing home. This monthly task is the main setting throughout the story and gives us great insight to the personalities of both Jodie and her mother.
Jodie is a very intuitive child who enjoys the older things such as the old truck and the old houses they pass in Iowa on their way to the old folks’ home. Richter is able to show the vast difference in Jodie and her mother through these two things. Jodie would much rather take the older truck to visit Uncle Binky, since “she could look out the windows and see everything” (2). The old abandoned farmhouses along the road were “something that Jodie never tired of seeing.” (2), which shows Jodie’s sincere interest in older things and she wishes to learn from them. Richter writes, “Each house they passed brought on a new set of questions” (2) and Jodie enjoyed thinking about the families the houses used to hold.
In contrast, Jodie’s mother is much more vain and values newer things, especially the new yellow station wagon that Jodie “knew her momma would take the crummy station wagon instead because it was brand-new... “ (2). Richter is able to show us the distinct difference in personality between Jodie and her mother; Jodie’s desire to learn and enjoy, and her mother’s desire to keep up a specific appearance of higher status. When explaining the houses, Jodie’s mother isn’t very interested...
Cited: Richter, Nathan. “Uncle Binky and the Hair School” Songs From the River’s Edge. Rock County Press, Chicago, 2002. n.pag.
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