Critical Analysis of a Narrative El-Dorado A Kansas Recessional






Critical Analysis of a Narrative: El-Dorado: A Kansas Recessional


A narrative usually presents an account of events and seeks to inform the reader about what actually happened. It is a common form of literature that is employed for various purposes. It is often characterized by different attributes that range from the content of the story to the rhetorical characteristics. Various writers assume different styles although the ultimate goal is often to inform the reader about certain events. Of course this is achieved through employment of a host of artistic styles that basically uphold the interest of the reader. It is against this background that this paper provides a critical analysis of the narrative ‘El-Dorado: A Kansas Recessional’ in light of the comprehensive notes of narrative analysis. It is believed that this would enable the reader to not only understand the content of the narrative but also to appreciate the role of artistic features that are employed.

The narrative revolves around a man named Colonel who had various experiences that were influenced by the social and economic changes that were being experienced during this time. He is deceived in to selling off his business so that he could make investments in El-Dorado. He falls for the trap and together with a couple of other men; they leave Solomon Valley with their fortune and head for El Dorado to make vital investments. On reaching there, they realize that it did not have the attributes that they were told before leaving Solomon valley. However, they are made to believe that most of the inhabitants had gone to the east on business operations and would be back in spring. In addition, they realized that the entire investments in the region were owned by a few individuals who also assumed top positions in the society.

In spring, the Gunts, who were their main hosts, leave the place on the premise that their father was dying and required them to be at his bedside. It then dawned on the inhabitants that they had been deceived and shortly after, the creditors destroy and take their property. The population reproaches Colonel who seemed to have had close relations with the Gunts. Notably, he was unaware of their dealings and their relationship had been largely superficial. They are left to wallow in poverty and lead desperate lives. The narrative winds up by indicating that one of the Gunts, Apollo who had returned to El- Dorado at night to pick certain belongings is bitten by a snake. Colonel finds his body, takes the money he had and buries him after saying prayers for him. Afterwards, he leaves with his horse, never to return to El- Dorado again.

Notably, the plot of the story is closed because it provides sufficient regarding the main character and even explains his fate. However, it is also noteworthy that the fate of other inhabitants of El- Dorado is unknown. Nonetheless, it can be contended that the fact that it provided all information regarding the main character makes it closed. The events of the story take a period of two seasons that translates in to approximately half a year. However, the discourse time can be posited to be during the early industrial revolution period. Notably, technology had not reached all segments of the population although it was highly anticipated. In addition, financial institutions were known to the population but their legality had not been clearly established. This was a distinct characteristic of the period of the early industrial revolution in America. At this point, it can be ascertained that the inherent coherence in the narrative is contributed to by the harmonic relationship between the narrative order and the discourse order. In particular, it can not be disputed that the events and characters of the narrative reflect the ideals that were experienced during the early industrial period.

The narrative has numerous characters although the main ones include Connell and the Gunt family that was represented by Apollo. Colonel is portrayed to be kind hearted when he gives the woman food and water when she was traveling to Solomon Valley with her sons. In addition, despite having been offended by Apollo, he says prayers for him and buries him. Apollo on the other hand is portrayed to be deceitful when he convinces part of the inhabitants of Solomon valley including Colonel to sell their properties and deposit the finances in their family bank. However, it should be acknowledged that this trait is largely shaped by his background and inherent family pressure. In addition, he is also secretive as he never told Colonel about his family regardless of them having been close friends. Hence in this regard, it can be posited that while Apollo has a round character, Colonel’s character on the other hand is flat. With regard to setting, the narrative takes place in two different places; Solomon valley and El- Dorado. The events that characterize this are clearly delineated in the narrative.

The narrator of the story can be posited to be a third person. This is because s/he does not directly involve the self in the narrative. Rather s/he gives an account of the events and the relative comments and judgments. Furthermore, it can be contended that the narrator in this context is all knowing. This is because of the fact that s/he is able to provide rich information about all the characters. S/he reveals to the reader the mind of the characters an even predicts their actions. Notably, the author seems to have a clear understanding of the characters and although s/he retains some vital information in a bit to uphold suspense, it can be agreed that he knows and understands the nature of the characters as well as the events in the narrative. For instance, despite having known that the man in digging a hole at night was Apollo, s/he refrains from revealing this to the reader and instead uses Colonel to inform the reader accordingly.

Seemingly, the author explores a number of themes that include poverty, ignorance and deceit. To begin with, the description of the living conditions in Solomon valley implies that the inhabitants are poor. Indicators of this include malnutrition and lack of a diverse economic base. This is perpetuated by the harsh climatic conditions that do not support local production. These conditions make the population vulnerable and are easily deceived in to selling their sole sources of livelihoods in order to invest in other areas. The theme of ignorance on the other hand is manifested when the inhabitants from Solomon valley fail to make vital inquiries regarding the nature of the investment. They are easily deceived and even fail to question the contradictory conditions that characterize El-Dorado.

At this juncture, it can be argued that this scenario is contributed to by their extreme poverty levels that give them limited choice. Nevertheless, it would still have been imperative for them to employ objectivity when dealing with such sensitive issues. The Gunt family capitalizes on this vulnerability and employs deceit at their advantage. The author presents these themes in an apt manner as they overlap and augment each other towards developing a central theme.

Further, the author employs various stylistic devices to capture and maintain the interest of the reader. For instance, his or her use of verbal irony that is exemplified through phrases such as ‘water came from the rock’ and ‘verdure from desert’ is instrumental in evoking responsive emotions in the reader as it implies a sense of despair. Furthermore, he employs dialogue to explore the feature of event branching. This does not only contribute to the development of the plot but it also breaks the narration monotony.


From this analysis, it is certain that the author of this narrative has a clear understanding of the vital components of an ideal narrative. Despite presenting the plot in an effective manner, s/he employs a host of stylistic and rhetorical devices that uphold and maintain the interest of the readers. In addition, he explores various themes that augment each other towards underscoring the central theme of despair. Despite being all knowing, s/he uses his characters and events to reveal different information to the reader and break the mounting suspense. It is in this consideration that this paper concludes by ascertaining that knowledge of vital components of literature is fundamental in successful writing.