The Raft by Peter Orner

This study guide will help you analyze the text “The Raft” by Peter Orner.  We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Raft”
Author: Peter Orner
Published in: “The Atlantic”
Date of Publication: 2000
Genre: Short Story

Peter Orner is an American author of essays, short stories, and novels, as well as a university professor in California. Most of his short works (essays and short stories) were published in literary magazines in the US. Orner also won several awards and honors for his fiction works.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Physical setting

The main physical setting is represented by the grandfather’s study and closet, which are carefully observed by the boy narrator: “My grandfather's study is carpeted with white shag, which feels woolly against my bare feet. I twist my toes in it. Many cactuses are also in the room.”

Notice that the study gives the impression of order and cleanliness, and the cactuses suggest the grandfather is a rather tough man.

An interesting element is the study is the grandfather’s desk with its “right-hand desk drawer, where he keeps a safety-locked pistol and a stack of tattered pornographic comic books”  which indicates both the old man’s nostalgia and need for protection and becomes symbolic of carefully kept secrets.

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The Raft by Peter Orner

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