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Russell is often found utilizing the strange and bizarre world’s that are created from the start of her short stories to comment on a larger issue worth discussing. Karen Russell’s short story, “The Barn at the End of Our Term” takes the idea of strange writing to the next level. She writes with the intent that the strange is the typical for the story. What I mean by this is that she immediately  addresses what is strange for the reader from the beginning, hiding nothing from the reader. In this short story, the narrative is from a horse. This begins in a persona that is not commonly spoken for, secondly the horses that are in the story are reincarnated American presidents.  The short story is divided up in sections that speak different stories: the first about the girl, second about the barn, third about Rutherford’s wife – “The First Lady”, lastly, “Dirt Memoirs” – attempting to record life in the dirt.

Russell’s use of strange storylines are often not too far fetched from some sort of a real life connection. This short story is not the first, and is not the last, of strange qualities. However, in each story the strange quality of the story is pointing to a bigger, more realistic, problem. For example, in previous stories from  this collection, Russell uses “Reeling for the Empire” to create this similar idea. In “Reeling for the Empire,” the women are creating silk with their own bodies and eventually make a plan to overcome the powerful leader. This strange storyline leads to a commentary on exploitation of workers for value. In her short story “The Barn at the End of Our Term”, the strange narrative of Rutherford, a reincarnated American President as a horse, is juggling with the idea of life, death, and somewhere inbetween.


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