Literary Analysis: Kayden Kross’ “Plank”

Plank by Kayden Kross is a coming-of-age piece with an epiphany that takes place whilst in a tent during a family camping trip. Although age is never mentioned, it is clear that the person the narrator speaks of is transitioning into adulthood, as evidenced by newfound perceptions that are consistent with adult life.
The story is told in the second person, which helps immerse the reader in the story and offers a component for which to follow along. As a reader, I imagined the narrator was speaking to me, and it resonated with my own adulthood transition.

While lying within the tent among sleeping siblings, the protagonist notices new things and developed a heightened awareness leading to the final paragraph in which the protagonist leaves the tent and approaches the new day and new life, only to suddenly find flaws in the only constant thing throughout their life–their mother. The final paragraph symbolizes the protagonist leaving behind childhood (children in the tent) and entering adulthood (joining adult family).

The strength here is definitely the setting. The setting helps to convey the protagonist’s revelation throughout. Even at the beginning, the detail of the tent’s fabric and the rocks on the ground convey how much more aware the protagonist has become. The sounds of the setting help piece together memories and reflections of the protagonist, and sets the scene of a person who has just awakened and is absorbing their surroundings. For instance, on the second page of the story (345) the protagonist listens to the sound of adults cooking breakfast, but doing so carefully and quietly, which leads to the realization of the power of love, “… eye contact dropped while they watch the camp and breastbones turned to the world because they would fight it for you. They would fight it and they would never look back” (345). The meaning of the title is also portrayed in the structure of setting in, “… then you see each night’s sleep as the plank that you will walk into the morning’s change” (346-347).

At the end of the story, there’s a feeling of a sudden realization of adulthood; as if the period of life had crept up so subtlely that the character was only suddenly aware of the dramatic shift into this new period of life. It’s a relatable and monumental reflection of life that everyone embarks on when asking themselves, where did the time go?

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