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The short story 'The Heifer' by Melisa Hardy can be said to be one of the most wonderful stories in the entire collection of The Best American Short Stories. The main character may be considered a villain at the beginning of the novel as her blinding actions which see her abandon her family might suggest so but in the long run at the end of the story Aina can not be described as anything else other than a heroine. Just to give a small account on Aina, she is a young woman who defies her family and elopes to Canada with her lover to try a new life that provide a different experience from the one that her traditional Finnish home had to offer. Childhood romance blinds her to the reality of life as she jumps to grab the opportunity of being with Uwe his lover (Miller, pp 213). Her move is characterized by lots of severe changes in her lifestyle and her innocence is eventually corrupted and her outlook in life is entirely changed. She later gets the realization that if she has to survive under the conditions that she finds herself in while at Canada she has to do whatever it takes to survive but this only leads to a disastrous tragedy.
To some Aina's initial move to defy her family might discredit her as a heroine but to me the very fact that she does not want to remain under the shackles of imprisonment in pursuing what she desires to me is quite heroic. Though her love for her blinds her from the fact that she hardly knows Uwe (Miller, pp 218), she is bold enough to try and forge a life in the world of the unknown. She is not afraid to go that extra mile and take the risk in trying to make a reality out of the romantic scenarios that she had created in her mind during the four years that Uwe was away. The picture that her imagination had created in her in addition to the romantic scenarios that she had envisioned do not eventually occur (Miller, pp 230) but she will not just quite on life just because of some few set backs. Her husband eventually turns out to be very shiftless, moody and meek but instead of Aina breaking down to depression over this she decides to take on life boldly.
Perhaps her most heroic moments can be traced down to the incidence when she has to collect a heifer which she had been offered as a wedding present. Her husband is too meek and shiftless to collect the heifer from a neighbor who was very unreliable. But Aina will not let the heifer go uncollected just because her husband cannot collect it. Her boldness is evidenced when she demands the collection and boldly leads the heifer through the frozen rivers against the mirthful conviction by other that no cow can cross the glazed ice (Miller, pp 238). Having successfully crossed the calf over, Aina seems to have shaken yet another shackle of imprisonment by proving to the society that her capabilities are not limited to the stereotypes that the society holds on to. Soon Aina seems to develop a passionate hate towards everything that Ontario has to offer ranging from her shiftless husband, the infertile land and the harsh winter conditions which seem to be stifling her freedom to realize the kind of life that she had long anticipated in her early years and self fulfillment. By plotting an escape (Miller, pp 243) Aina for yet another time shakes of the shackles of imprisonment in a society that stifles her desire to develop and realize her self identity in a stereotypic society that undermines the capabilities of women and prevent them from pursuing their fulfillment.
Though Aina does not succeed in her mission to search for self identity as his journey ends up in a disaster, she proves that women should not allow themselves to be confined by the expectation of the society which will never allow them to search for fulfillment and identity by creating unjustifiable limits over their heads. She therefore emerges a heroin in the consideration that she proves her boldness by going against and defying the expectations of the society on women which stifles their search for self identity, fulfillment and freedom.