Cary Wolfe Professor Murrey English 200, Tuesday & Thursday Class 26 February 2013 Word Count 1008 The Appalachian: Separation An Analysis of Separation in Jim Wayne Miller’s “The Taste of Ironwater” My small Appalachian hometown is peaceful, with its flowing streams and rolling hills, somewhat untouched by the rest of the world, a place I hope to never leave again. Separation is defined in multiple ways; the one used in this story is the process of separating or the condition of being separated (DEF. ).
Just like Buddy, the main character in Jim Wayne Miller’s “The Taste of Ironwater,” I once was in a state of overwhelming separation from the armed forces, my spouse, and my Appalachian home. After finishing my last deployment in the United States Army, I came home to an empty house and a Dear John letter. I was only sixty days from becoming a civilian. Then I had to decide through all of the anxiety from separation what I wanted to do: I had family close by that had found me work, if I wanted to stay in the south, or I could return home to endless possibilities.
This story helped me see the trials and tribulations of separation in a different light. In the story a man named Buddy had run into an old friend, L. C.. They talked about the good old days, and their friends who had made something of themselves. Odell took the hell raiser to preacher approach in life, while Haskill Bayes (a not as intelligent person) had graduated from a community college that had open up near their hometown. Soon afterward, Buddy’s mom had sent Preacher Odell to pay him a visit, and in return Buddy decided to return home.
Throughout Jim Wayne Miller’s “The Taste of Ironwater,” Miller showed the pattern of separation in Buddy’s life, through the military, his wife, and the small hometown he had left behind years ago. One way, Buddy’s transition from military to civilian life is not just a change in employment, but a change in culture and lifestyle as well, played a part in his separation from civilians. Buddy had a soured personality; he didn’t enjoy or have a want to be around anyone. “And you take, lots of folks from Wolf Pen’s up here workin, but just getting up, goin’ to work, comin home, you hardly ever see anybody” L.
C. said (155). “He liked it just that way—not seeing any body” Buddy’s thoughts (155). “Buddy’s dad had a room over on Oak, Buddy hadn’t seen him in two-three weeks, didn’t want to” (155). Buddy’s strict way of life had disappeared, no one had the disciplined that had been in graved into him, it’s was easier for him to just be alone. Another pattern of separation in the story would be Buddy’s parting from his wife, Evie. Buddy was in complete denial with his departure to Evie, until Odell the preacher confronted him. “Man, I got two weeks off.
Evie’s visitin’ her folks—out in New Mexico” (155) Buddy said. “Right now I’m batchin, L. C. Lookin’ for a place. When Evie gets back” (155). Then Buddy and Odell had a conversion that explains a lot of his actions. “Buddy, lookit me. You’re lyin too me. All I know is what your Mom told me, Buddy—about you and your wife separating and all” Odell said (158). “They know, they know down home. When she went back to New Mexico to visit her folks, Buddy had known even before he got the letter that she was long gone” Buddy’s thoughts (158).
Buddy’s separation from his wife was actually a small death to him, he no longer had a will to keep going until he found out more people knew the truth about his separation. Finally, the separation that’s had its affects throughout Miller’s “The Taste of Ironwater” was Buddy leaving his Appalachian Home. These next few sentences were descriptions of how Buddy was feeling about finally going back home. “It was November, and Wolf Pen would be gray and muddy, but he always remembered it the way it was in spring and early summer” (158). “Buddy could see it as clear as the grains of sand on the bottom of a spring.
And lying there, thinking of home, hating it, loving it he was so homesick for that place he could taste it, like lying on his stomach at a spring down home, drinking the ironwater with its rusty taste—water that stained coffee cups, dippers and water buckets” (159). Up to this point, Buddy hadn’t had any pleasure or any self-satisfaction until he realized that he had just reunited himself with his hometown. “Hello, home! ” Buddy said, turned up the radio and started singing along (159). This was Buddy’s only reconnection, from all of the separation he had been facing throughout the story.
We will all deal with some type of separation in our lives, and more than likely it will come in many shapes and forms. Buddy had several separation issues that compared and even reminded me, of many personal events that took place in my very own life, most were issues that are affecting many people today. Separation was showed in mainly negative issues with changes, people don’t enjoy going through and can bring the feeling of life is over, but it also was to remind us life is only what we make of if it, if we let it get us down, it will.
The story never told if Buddy had overcome all of his separation issues, but as the story ended there were lots of hints that Buddy was on his way to writing a much better chapter of his life, then again who knows what life has in store. Works Cited “Separation. ” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2003. Houghton Mifflin Company 15 Feb. 2013 http://www. thefreedictionary. com/separation Miller, Jim Wayne. “The Taste of Ironwater. ” Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories. Ed. Morris Allen Grubbs. Lexington: UP of KY, 2001. 154-161. Print.