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Essays On Peace Like A River By Leif Enger

Good And Evil Actions In Peace Like A River By Leif Enger

Good and Evil Actions in Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

The battle of good versus evil is present in all aspects of life. Actions taken by people can determine how others view them. Some choose to do what is right and good, while others choose what is wrong and evil. Many characters are forced to choose between the two, and some do not foresee the consequences of their actions. In the book Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, actions committed by the Davy, Jeremiah, and Jeremiah’s friends, both good and evil, always have consequences.
Davy’s decisions throughout the book change how the novel progresses. Davy helps Reuben mature by helping him shoot his first goose. “I’d actually started feeling sorry for the doomed bird when Davy grabbed my shoulder and spun me so I lay on my back. He jammed the Winchester into my hands” (Enger 7). Killing a goose was a sign of manhood in Reuben’s eyes. This goodness committed by Davy gives Reuben a new sense of pride. While some of Davy’s actions have positive affects, some do not. Davy taunts Israel and Tommy and gives them an invitation to retaliate against him. “ ‘Well, he had something in his hand. A tire iron, I guess, or pry bar. Hard to tell in that rain. Anyway, he whacked every window out of the Finch boy’s car.’ “ (84). The night of Davy’s shootings, he went to Israel’s car and smashed out all of the windows. Davy wanted the issue with the boys to be over with, and gave them an invitation to come into his home. Although Davy may have thought his evil intentions would lead to a positive outcome, the murder of the two boys spark a chain of events that lead Davy into a cross-country escape from the law.
The goodness of God is shown through the actions of Jeremiah. At the beginning of the novel, Jeremiah’s first sign of divine interaction occur when he saves Reuben’s life. “It made Dad my hero, as you might expect, won him my forgiveness for anything that he might do forever…” (3). Reuben should have died, but Jeremiah saves his life. This gives Reuben the opportunity to witness all the other miracles his father makes during his lifetime. When Principle Holgren, fires Jeremiah from his janitorial job, instead of reacting sourly, he...

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A man, Reuben Land, through flashbacks remembers the events of his birth, the challenges, and his family, and narrates the story. He is the protagonist in the novel who instills faith and hope to the readers through his life story. This shifts to present day, 1962, when the man has grown up and lives as a good man. Narration of these events in his life helps the readers to appreciate the maturation that occurred in his life (Robertson, 2013). This eventually helps in molding him into the grown up good man that he is presently. The novel illustrates how Reuben’s family goes through an extra length to ensure one of them, Davy, comes back to the light. Enger uses the first person point of view in his novel. This is because Reuben tells the narrative from his point of view of the events that occurred in his life. This starts with a flashback of his birth, how God revived him so that he could witness the miracles performed through his father. Through his narration, we learn about his brother Davy, and his choices in life that led him to prison. Through Reuben, the readers find out the deal that his father made with God so that the former may die instead of Reuben. Readers are able to discern the occurrences in Reuben’s life through narration from both the young and adult Reuben. Symbolism and use of metaphors are also some of the literary elements employed by Enger in producing his work. Metaphors refer to the use of direct comparisons between ideas and characters. Examples of metaphors in Enger’s Peace like a river include the scene where Jeremiah’s actions are compared to that of God. Jeremiah blows air and life into son, who is motionless and clay-like, just as God blew air into Adam whom He made from clay. Metaphor is also used when Mrs. DeCuellas’ hair is described as black and woolly. Symbolism is evidenced in the character of Swede, Reuben’s sister (Enger, 2001). The novel starts as she works on her poem, and her character develops with it. This portrays the growth of the Land’s family. Another symbolism is Reuben’s asthmatic condition. It symbolizes the challenges and burdens of life that must be met with strength and faith for one to succeed, just as Reuben did. His daily struggle with breathing and his continued effort in keeping alive denotes the persistence very much needed for success in day-to-day activities. Peace like a river also portrays the repetitive use of themes throughout the book. This is called motif. The first motif in this novel is dreams. Enger displays the use of dreams through Reuben when in his terrible dream; he is crossing a shallow river. He also dreams about the skin bag, after which he wakes up to find Waltzer looking at him (Enger, 2001). Enger has used miracles in his novel a number of times. When Jeremiah commands Reuben, in the name of the living God to breathe, a miracle occurs. Another miracle is observed when Jeremiah paces at the edge of the water without falling. Other miracles occur in the novel including the never emptying bowl of soup, Reuben’s survival after the gunshot wound, and the healing of Holgren’s face among others. The theme of war is also used repetitively in the novel. The first instance is where Davy fights with and kills the two bullies. This paints the picture of war. Another instance where war theme is portrayed is in heaven, when Reuben and ...Show more

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