Narrative Patterns in Tinkers by Paul Harding

Pages: 3
Words: 853


Tinkers, an award-winning literary piece by Paul Harding, is focused on the story of George Crosby, an elderly man revisiting his most memorable life recollections. The novel additionally features the main character’s father, Howard Crosby, as the meaning of life, death, and family is explored. The described struggles of Howard contribute to the forming image of George’s complex life circumstances. In that way, Tinkers follows a parallel of several fates, including those of the main character, his father, and other family members. Harding emphasizes the specific themes of love and forgiveness through contrasting memories of George Crosby. Hence, the paralleling narrative pattern strongly contributes to the author’s set idea of depicting the various twists and complexities of one’s life.

Use of Language in Expressing the Pattern

The language used in Tinkers generally advocates the idea of the author presenting a series of reflections instead of a continuous story. The beginning of the text signifies the initiation of one perspective of the narrating pattern based on the author’s viewpoint. Hence, as Harding sets the scene, the surrounding environment of George Crosby is described: “…panes in the windows…stood loose in their sashes” (Harding 1). The verbal illustrations are presented objectively, demonstrating the dullness of the character’s life. Furthermore, the transition between the author’s narration and George’s memories of his father involves minimal explanation and expressive elements. Instead, the perspective switch appears abruptly after the older man’s hallucination episode. Consequently, a parallel effect is created through the emotionally limited language and transitional text.

Emotional Tones of the Narrative

The emotional tone of the narrative pattern is directly affected by the mental and physical states of the men, as well as their intricate life stories. As the main character is captured in the process of passing away while being surrounded by his family, the reader experiences a bittersweet nostalgic feeling of a natural procedure all people go through. At the same time, George’s memories of his father and further recollections of his grandfather emphasize the melancholic and unsettling mood. Generations of men went through similar situations, which evoke familiar internal emotions. In the end, the emotional stance of the novel parallels the feelings of childhood abandonment and disappointment experienced by different representatives of the Crosby family.

The Role of the Characters in the Pattern Development

In this case, the characters play critical roles in developing the narrative pattern of the novel; besides the mentioned Crosby family members, secondary individuals aid in outlining the recollections. For instance, in the presentation of Howard’s struggles as a tinker, the idea of the lower-class financial issues is optimally described through the tinker’s poor customers: “No woman ever bought a piece of jewelry” (Harding 26). In that way, this specific narrative episode involves the potential buyers of Howard’s products that could not afford the items, and this idea highlights the unfavorable position of both sides. Moreover, the tinker’s son experienced difficult periods in his life that were indirect consequences of his father’s financial and health states. The interaction of the characters’ life complexities further accentuates the natural impact of family ties and legacies, which are all essential parts of the narrative.

The Role of the Narrator in the Pattern Development

As the piece refers to various perspectives in its plot, the role of the narrator is the central element connecting its parts. The narrator guides the reader through the text as “an instrument, a construction, or a device wielded by the author” (Abbott 63). In the context of Tinkers, the narrator’s role is shared between George, Howard, and Howard’s father since they independently recall and describe specific instances from their lives. Referring back to the deliberate use of a parallel technique, the mentioned role integrates the separate livelihoods of the tinker men and constructs an assimilated vision of work, family, life, and death issues. The final episode of the novel, portraying an image of a father-son reunion, further demonstrates the narrator’s impact on the text’s perception. In that way, the ultimate scene allows the various plotlines to combine into one defining point of the narration.

The Overall Effect of the Pattern on the Reader

The overall effect of the narrative pattern on the reader includes stimulated contemplations regarding the themes of loss, memories, family, reconstruction, and common goals in life. The parallels between the three Crosby men demonstrate the impact of one’s family history on their future, ambitions, and mental health – a relatable aspect for many readers. The tragedies depicted in a consequential order create a despairing and hopeless tone in the text yet also urge to continue trying to succeed. Most importantly, as the final scene reconnects two long-lost family members, its significant impact on exploring close relationships is evident.


In conclusion, Tinkers by Paul Harding follows a paralleling narrative pattern as the reflections of several characters are contrasted and, in some ways, integrated. The analysis of the language, tone, as well as character roles in the perception of the pattern, highlighted the key themes and ideas expressed by the author. Hence, the discussed elements provided the foundation for the intricate depiction of one’s complicated yet rewarding life.

Works Cited

Abbott, Horace Porter. The Cambridge Introductions to Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Harding, Paul. Tinkers. Bellevue Literary Press. 2009.