‘The Stone’ by Louise Erdrich

The Stone by Louise Erdrich, 2019

The magic trick:

Obvious symbolism with a meaning that isn’t obvious at all

The titular stone here very clearly represents something bigger than mere basalt rock. I mean, it’s over the top obvious that this is symbolism. You can’t go more than four sentences without a reference to its metaphor.

But just what the stone represents?

Not so clear.

And that’s quite a trick on Erdrich’s part.

The selection:

There was a boy named Vic, who often acted up in order to get attention. One day, during art class, the girl felt a little tug at the end of her ponytail, and looked around to see that Vic had used his art scissors to snip off a piece of her dark hair. He dangled the lock from his fingers and grinned at her. But she said nothing. She was frozen, staring at her hair. He made a move to hide the hair, but she found her voice and told him to drop it. She snatched the lock as it left his fingers and balled it up in her fist. At this point, the teacher noticed that something was going on and asked the girl what was in her hand. When the teacher saw the hair, she said that cutting your own hair was the sort of behavior most children had outgrown long ago, and she would have to write a note to her parents.

Her mother was mystified. “Why did you do that?”

Her father lectured her about the beauty of hair.


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