The Narrator In 'Ralph The Duck' By Frederick Busch

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“Ralph the Duck” by Frederick Busch is told by an unnamed narrator who works as a security guard at a university. Because he is on staff, he’s able to take a free course each semester and work his way towards a 16-year graduation in a “slow-motion kind of way” (76). He is currently enrolled in a writing class with a professor who has an affinity for litotes and pretty girls, something which the narrator often dryly satirizes. One such pretty girl, we see later, plays a pivotal role in the story, as the narrator salvages her from both herself and the elements. She reminds the narrator of his own deceased daughter, a figure never explicitly mentioned but unmistakably prevalent. In fact, the narrator’s emotions and inner workings aren’t ever shown plainly; he has almost a veteran-like stoicism about him. It is only through his actions and descriptions of things, such as his strained marriage, that we gain an insight into his mind, with one key exception: “Ralph the Duck.” The narrator writes “Ralph the Duck” for his writing professor’s Rhetoric and Persuasion…show more content…
There are several instances in the story which refer to the narrator’s potential veteran status and several others which reveal the weakened state of his marriage. However, what we don’t see is the narrator speaking candidly about the things he is struggling with. We get the sense that he wants to open up to the people around him, but doesn’t know how to. In a conversation with his professor, the narrator says, or thinks to himself rather, “I did want to learn about expressing myself” (81). The therapist-like diction here suggests time in counseling, though whether that is PTSD or marriage counseling we can’t be sure of. What we can say for certain is that the desire to communicate his feelings is

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