The Hurt Man
“The Hurt Man “is a short story written by Wendell Berry taking place in the late asses. The childhood memories of the man Mat Filter are described from a third person narrator whose omniscience is limited to Mat.
The fact that the narrator is able to give away information regarding much later events such as “she would begin to matter to him a great deal in a dozen of years, and after that she would matter to him all his life “of course referring to Margaret; Mat’s coming wife gives the reader the opportunity to reflect on the current events with the future events in mind to each a greater understanding and later conclusion of the story. “The Hurt Man “takes on a very traditional short story form. First the characters are described then the setting.
After that the banalities and dangers of Port William are portrayed followed by a trigger to lead on the story in a dramatic order: a hurt man arrives bleeding at the house of the five year old narrator and his mother. At first the title of the story seems easily analyzable and one might think that the story it called “The Hurt Man” only because of the hurt man it among other things revolves around. But I live it could also be referring to changes in Mat and how his innocence is taken away when learning of pain through the mother’s care of the man. The setting of the story plays a decisive role as well.
As stated initially, Mat grew up in a rather tumultuous and harsh setting where disputes were mostly settled out of court with violence; a town in which the “proof of mortality would be given in blood”. Here a noteworthy word “mortality “occurs for the first time in the story and almost from the beginning. The usage of the word mortality later becomes an essential part of the story and Port William. It is also told that the three deceased siblings of Mat are resting at the town’s graveyard and their headstones became an immortal proof of their tough and short life in Port William.
The mother was a strong and seemingly independent woman. She was treated with respect from the friends of the hurt man first when she stopped them to ask them who they were and secondly when she delegated the different task in an attempt to save the hurt man. Even though she had previously lost 3 of her children at very young ages much like her present son she did not hesitate to let him experience the airdrops of life first handedly. After all such experiences are necessary when growing up especially at that age.
Of course she was concerned about his wellbeing to a certain motherly degree also did she love him. So she kept an eye on him but also let him grew up like any other child. Especially on Saturdays did she watch out for him since the town had a tendency to turn additionally disorderly that day. So in contrast Mat’s mother is very similar to the mother of Creeps in “The Soldiers Home “. Both of them want to protect their child but they don’t want their protection to be arced on them they would rather have their children experience hardships and progress in life.
The fact that it is two completely different situations and ages their children are affected by is secondary. The important part is their motherly care and the experiences they let their children have for the better on the long run. Mat was surprised when the mother almost without hesitation let the man inside their house. He was not afraid of man or the blood on his face and body. But if there was one thing he was not surprised about was that the mother took care of him and nursed is wounds. He knew she would do this for she did this to himself so why should his caring mother refuse to help this stranger?
He was simply surprised about the facial expression of care, love, empathy and uneasiness which he had only seen directed at him. Then Mat realized what death really is by seeing his mother’s genuine care and love for a complete stranger. He also understood that this stranger would have been dead had it not been for his mother. When Mat then moved closer to his mother and uncovered her facial expression usually only directed at him: that passionate, careful ND worried look he has an epiphany in which he sees the world through the eyes of an adult for the first time.
This is a milestone is his life (and life in general) and of course at his age he can only be shocked. For all of his short life Mat thought that the world was revolving around him and his mother only but after seeing how his mother reacted to this man’s condition he realized that this man could have died and never returned like the many people buried at the graveyard. He then truly understood what dying means. This might also be the reason why “she would begin to matter to him a great deal in a dozen of years, ND after that she would matter to him all his life “.
First she did not matter to him she could have been a boy for all he cared but he ended up marrying her maybe because he realized that life does not Just revolve about him and his mother. Through the pain he learned of he also learned about love, care and compassion which he later would share with his wife and grandson and as long as Mat would be happy there would always be a loss” He learned it all his life”. That is the law of equivalent exchange in which we and our universe live by.