55 Miles to the Gas Pump: Dark Humor

Annie Proulx’s “55 Miles to the Gas Pump” is a comic albeit dark tale. As the name suggests, the setting of the story is far out in the country. So much so that rancher Croom makes “his own strange beer” (568).  As the story unfolds, rancher Croom drunkenly races to a canyon while Mrs. Croom is taking advantage of his absence to break into the attic he keeps locked. Mrs. Croom breaks open the attic to find the missing bodies of rancher Croom’s lovers: “covered with tarry hand prints” and “all of them used hard” (568). Proulx ends the story by writing: “when you live a long way out you make your own fun” (569).


Proulx uses the story to make fun of the uncivilized country life. Ironically, Mr. Croom’s warnings and locks on the attic only served to pique his wife’s curiosity, thus revealing the secret he tried to desperately to hide. And even hiding the bodies didn’t fool anyone. Mrs. Croom wasn’t even surprised to find the dead bodies of his lovers up there. And worst of all is that a man trying to hide the his lover’s bodies from his own wife, hides them in his own attic. As a whole, the story mocks the lack of normality or decency “55 miles from the gas pump.”


1 Comment

  1. danielsbrown said,

    July 3, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Good – Proulx uses irony in the story to suggest how living far away from civilization might drive a person crazy.

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