“Stupid Decisions” In the story “Kansas,” Stephen Dobyns’ portrayal of the farmer as a round character demonstrates the theme of don’t make stupid decisions of characterization when the farmer chases after his wife, the boy hitchhikes, and the wife is being unfaithful. It started with a boy trying to get from a school in Oklahoma back to summer school. He hitchhiked on a dirt road in Kansas, and much to his surprise, his life would change forever. The farmer is a round character as he is the reason why everything began; he felt deceived, made a stupid decision when he planned to find his wife and kill her.
He can’t get the police involved, because “it’s his wife”, and “it’s his problem,” (Dobyns 111) he will take care of the problem in his own way. He felt when you have something bad in your life “you stomp it out” (Dobyns 110 ). The farmer drove down the middle of the road, fifty or more miles an hour, tried to catch up to the car, but he couldn’t catch up with it. He was hurt that his wife would leave him for another man. The boy is a dynamic main character in the story who is trying to make something out of his life, since he is from such a small town.
He planned to one day be a great piano player and hopefully play at Carnegie Hall. He is caught in a battle within himself because of his stupid decision and a stupid decision of the farmer. His dream flashed before his eyes, when a farmer picked him up in a Ford pickup truck. He would soon realize the farmer had a plan of his own, to kill two people whom he was very angry with. The boy was too scared to try to talk the man out of doing it, so he sat quietly; thoughts went through his mind and he could hardly utter a word. The boy only answered questions and with few words.
The farmer is a nice looking man and had skin that was a brown from the sun. He had a forty-five revolver lying on the seat beside him; he was looking for a blue Plymouth coupe, which was carrying his wife and another man. The farmer was the antagonist in the story. He told the boy that he planned to kill them both for what the wife had done to him. He wanted to know if the boy had seen it pass, the boy answered,” yes, it went by thirty minutes ago,” (Dobyns 110). The boy was very scared looking at the gun and could barely speak.
The boy was the protagonist in the story and wanted to try to talk the farmer out of his plan to kill his wife and her boyfriend, but the boy was so afraid of making the farmer angrier and getting himself shot. He continued thinking of a reason the farmer should not continue on the journey. He tried really hard to let the words out, but was still afraid to talk the farmer out of it. As they continued on the road, the farmer got worse as he drove faster and faster and the boy realized he may never get to go to Carnegie Hall that he once dreamed of. His life changed so quickly, by this stranger in the truck.
The young boy sat and waited in fear to catch up to the blue car, but that never happened; he was let out of the truck at the next town with the promise to never tell the police or anyone else. He kept that promise; but he made a point to check the newspapers twice a day, to see if there was any news of anyone being killed, but there was never anything there. It is very easy to relate to the boy, because we have all been in situations where we have made stupid decisions and are frightened, and wished later we would have said or did something differently.
The boy was very troubled by the decision that he made that day, not to say a word. He could have tried to save the farmers’ wife by calming the farmer down but he was too scared of what might have happened. The boys’ decision of not talking about the incident to anyone, until he was on his death bed to his two sons, truly affected him. The boy thought about what happened that day to himself for the rest of his life. He made it a mental situation by holding it inside. He kept his promise to the farmer as he did not tell the police nor did he tell anyone about that day.
He went to college at the University of Oklahoma and had planned to go to New York City to play piano in Carnegie Hall. He never made it to Carnegie hall because his playing never was good enough. He became a man in the war, got married and had two sons. He moved to Michigan, became a teacher, and last a preacher. He told his two sons of the story of the farmer, they also wondered if he ever found his wife. He never let that day get to far from his mind; he dreamed of different endings to that horrible day.
It bothered him about his problem to help the farmer do the right thing and tried to figure out if anything he could have done differently. He dreamed they caught up with the wife and the man; they were half naked on the side of the road. The farmer pulled out his gun and aimed it at the man. The boy told the farmer “No! ” (Dobyns 113) the farmer shot the man in the head, and then he shot his wife, and finally himself. The boy cried “No, No! ” (Dobyns 112). He then dreamed he talked the farmer into going to the police. He talked all the way there, they went to the police tation, gave them the gun, and told the police what happened. The police said they would “get her back,” (Dobyns 112) “Wife stealing is not permitted around here. ” (Dobyns 112) The ending was good, no one was killed and the boy had the courage to stand up to the farmer and make for a good ending. He also dreamed of the farmer getting to town, the boy jumping out, and running to the police. The farmer was killed by the police in town. Finally, he dreamed the farmer drove to the train station, while the boy tried to talk him out of killing the wife and man.
They found the wife and her lover, the boy jumped in between them; the farmer shot him in the arm and in the back. He was the only one that got hurt in that confrontation. The wife was a flat character in the story as she never spoke a word. She never was allowed to tell her side of the story. Her character was only based on what the farmer told the boy and what he said happened. Based on what the story tells, she also made a stupid decision by choosing to run around on her husband. The story had foreshadowing and flashbacks, which keep the story interesting.
Its outcome was very important in this story and the boy becoming a man finally thought of all the possibilities that could have happened to end the story. It’s up to use the reader to pick the one that best fits the situation. I really liked this story as we all have had conflicts to deal with and some were because of our stupid mistakes. It is how we deal with the situation at that time that counts; going back later to say I should have said or done something differently isn’t helpful in the end.