The Orchard Keeper Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 30 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Orchard Keeper.
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Resisting Government Intrusion

One of the story's key themes is the conflict between individual liberty and government expansion. The historical setting of the story immediately puts this issue in the spotlight, as the age of Prohibition is often understood as a low point in American history for individual freedom. Though Sylder is not a thoroughly sympathetic character, McCarthy does not expect or desire the reader to think less of him for transporting whiskey against the law. Indeed, none of the characters in the story, other than the policemen, seem to care about what Sylder does. John Wesley, far too young to drink, is even eager to help him and protect him from the police, even though he can smell whiskey at the scene of the crash where the two first meet.

Arthur Ownby's story is perhaps even a more direct treatment of the issue of liberty. Ownby's stand against...

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This section contains 780 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Orchard Keeper Study Guide
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