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“The Far and the Near” by Thomas Wolfe

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            The short story by Thomas Wolfe entitled “The Far and the Near” shows just how much differently one’s perception of something can change depending on how close they are to the object. The story begins by showing this picturesque view of the house and the surrounding area where the train engineer how goes by it daily has witnessed a woman and her daughter wave at him throughout his lifetime of engineering.

            This description could be thought of as the “Far” view of these women and their house, or the engineer’s perception of what he sees from his cab of the train. From a distance, which is later detailed as a “stone’s throw from the rails”, the daily sight of this house and its women have been a source of inspiration for him. The story gives a bit of description of the engineer when he is done with his career and the decision he makes to actually go and seek out the house and the women that live there. He has decided to take a closer look at the beauty of the house, and to meet the women who not only have been waving to him for the duration of over twenty years, but to seek these women who he feels close to as if they were his own family.

            Here, the story shifts into the “Near” portion.  From the point that the engineer steps off of the platform at the station, it is made very clear that the “Near” is very different then the “Far.” The past perception of what the town might have been like was not even close to what he had imagined. He is followed by the narration as he becomes closer to the house, with the story describing how increasingly worse he feels as he nears the home. The story continues through the horrible meeting and discovery that what he had always perceived as pure and beautiful was actually more “bewilderment and hostility.”

            The “Far” which was once a soothing inspiring sight becomes a horrific reality when seen “Near”, and is a wonderful example done by the author Thomas Wolfe in his short piece “The Far and the Near.”

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