Analysis Pages

Themes in The Striding Place

Soul and Body: The two main characters of the story, Weigall and Gifford, discuss the mystery of the connection between soul and body, as well as the soul’s destination after death. Gifford offers a theory that falls in line with ancient Greek ideas of soul: that the soul is a twin of the body and departs from the body after death. While the Greeks, particularly Homer, believed the soul descends into the underworld, Gifford believes the soul is free to roam, or to inhabit the lifeless body once more.

The Power of Friendship: The story is spurred on by the strength of the friendship between Weigall and Gifford. Despite the spookiness of both the forest and the Strid, Weigall persists in his search for Gifford because of his love for his friend. As the story reaches it conclusion, we see the full depth of their friendship.

Themes Examples in The Striding Place:

The Striding Place

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"There was no face...."   (The Striding Place)

In the final shock of the story, it seems that Gifford’s speculations about the soul’s destiny have proven true. The body has been spookily reanimated, yet remains essentially lifeless and, even more hauntingly, faceless.

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"but he would have flouted in these moments the thought that he had ever loved any woman as he loved Wyatt Gifford...."   (The Striding Place)

As Weigall faces the possibility of Gifford’s death, it becomes clear to him how deeply his feelings for his friend run. Weigall has loved Gifford more than any of the women he has loved in his life. The stakes of the story increase dramatically as a result of this insight.

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"that the soul sometimes lingers in the body after death...."   (The Striding Place)

Perhaps the central theme of “The Striding Place” is the connection between soul and body. Atherton foregrounds this theme in a remembered conversation between Weigall and Gifford, who speculate about where the soul goes after death. Gifford suspects it might remain with the body even after the “life-spark”—the spirit, the seat of consciousness—has been extinguished. These ruminations prove important later on the story.

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