” The splinter” is a short story by Ron Carlson. The story represents the narrator and his son named Rick. Rick is driving through Utah, Arizona in a Corona car.
They are following the narrator´s boss Damon and his girlfriend Veronica. The narrator wonders if Damon invited him on the camping trip out of compassion or because he likes him as an employee.
He reflects on how Rick manages to get through the fifth grade and summer camp after his mother Amelia´s death. At the camping site Rick and Damon dig out an old fire ring and they start preparing the new fire.
During the camping trip Rick gets a splinter in his foot, which they notice by his limping. Rick refuses to let anyone look closely at his swollen foot.
Later that night Rick allows the narrator to remove the splinter, which makes them both cry. Rick falls asleep and the narrator feels relieved.
Damon might provide Rick with distraction, but he cannot offer him the emotional support he needs and looks for in the narrator. Veronica and Rick´s relationship is also good.
Veronica is a listener and Rick seems to be happy talking to her. The setting is described very detailed. At the beginning there are giving many details about he park, also the road is described as narrow and along a cliffside5.
At the end they reach their destination which is the valley. The social setting explores the challenges of the importance of a support system and the challenges of being a single parent.
As a single parent the narrator needs to provide everything for Rick. But sometimes he tries to be stricter with him such as not allowing him to go in Damon´s car.
Other times he feels powerless when he sees Rick being scared or in pain, which shows that being a single parent can be overwhelming. The story also shows that sometimes it is best for parents to show their negative emotions to their children.
The moment they both cry is the moment they both share their grief. Through Rick we also see that children have difficulties adjusting when they lose a parent. The narrator is grateful that school has kept Rick busy after Amelias death6.