The Harvest: A Short Story by Ron Rash

A story about growing up and eventual death.

My first advice for the readers of this article would be to read The Harvest first. It holds many points that can be understood clearly as the story progresses, and without reading it, this article would only be one big spoiler. The shock factor and the effort one has to put in order to understand what is going on are my favorite parts of this story. I highly advise reading this three-page story before reading this article, even if you understand nothing about it.

The story starts as a mess, the only point of it seems like the characters harvesting some cabbages at first glance. Yet, there is way more than meets the eye. For me, there is no other story like The Harvest when it comes to showing a character's growth. Especially considering that it happens in the span of three pages. It can be seen how the trauma and fear shape the main character once he is alone. Considering he is just ten years old, how composed and mature he seems throughout the duration of the story is just sad. Some people have to grow up early, and he is one of those people. Yet, seeing the start and the end of the story, it is possible to see the character growing up even more. He already acts more mature than he should be and probably was like that even before the incidents leading to this story. Still, it is possible to see him being affected by those incidents. It feels like one-half of The Harvest is about him. Harvest happens when crops grow up and ripen, similar to growing up and becoming mature, and this is exactly what happens to the protagonist.

The other half of The Harvest is about death. The story follows the protagonist and his father and uncle as they harvest the cabbages. This seems normal at first, it is harvest time for harvest. Yet, as the story goes on, you can see that the reason they are harvesting: The death of Mr. Tilson, the owner of the field. The field that made the protagonist grow up is actually the field where Mr. Tilson died as he died because of a tractor accident. After the crops grow up, they are ready to be harvested, which is similar to death. The title makes it seem like Mr. Tilson was old and about to die anyway. He needed to be harvested, in a way. These two halves make the story, The Harvest. A tragic death and maturation after this said death.


Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash