There are other items in the collection: The beer cans and styrofoam meat trays are simply disposable items of an excessive lifestyle which should be recycled. The rancid Indian blankets represent what was done to the Native Americans of the area. The dogs, supposed to protect these odd treasures, are starving and weak themselves. These miserable creatures must also be served and cared for by Walter.
Intriguingly, there is nothing really new in the Walter Miller Home Page that has not been communicated in other great works of American Literature which claim to speak for "their generation." While other generational-defining works, such as those of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouac, whose works sublimely define the Lost Generation and Beat Generation, respectively, Walter actually declares proudly that he is the voice of his generation--and not only says so, self-publishes it. Rather than being self-aggrandizement, it is instead a personification of what the Web does in general and a home page does in particular.
If every American novel since Huckleberry Finn has placed the protagonist "on the river", Walter too journeys. But instead of the Mississippi, he travels the Information Superhighway--which is also just as big, muddy--and painfully slow. Instead of a raft, he surfs the web from the prison of his rural trailer. The river has come to him.
An odd parallel is drawn comparing Huck Finn's relationship with his erstwhile father. Like Walter's grandfather, Huck's "Pap" is merciless in beating Huck--even more physically abusive that Walter's patriarch. Walter and Grandfather are in a small, miserable trailer stuck in the desert of Texas, as the information highway swirls around them. Huck and Pap live in a small cabin on a muddy island in the Mississippi River, the traffic of America swirling past them as well.
In the Twentieth Century, robust American fiction matured, emerging in the lean prose of Ernest Hemingway's energetic lust for life. Even in a flawed (and autobiographical) character sketch of Nick in The Big Two Hearted River, Nick is still very much a self-reliant man despite having psychological problems as does Walter. But Walter cannot deal with the hand fate has dealt him. He is an anti-Hemingway, someone Hemingway would probably punch in the nose if he ever met him.
There are influences in Walter Miller from other works as well: His defensive, post-adolescent ramblings of self-justification in the face of abusive, Southern, domineering family members are dialogue-poor but detail-rich--and also strangely reminiscent of Truman Capote's My Side Of The Matter, a story of a poor young man facing a failed marriage at age sixteen. Capote wrote it when he was eighteen.
The miserable Miller compound is comparable to William Faulkner's dysfunctional eccentric Southern family descriptions as well. The grandfather's savage dalliances with a local mistress horrifies Walter, as does the savage fighting--all for the purpose of entertainment--between plantation lord Thomas Sutpen and large enslaved men on his Mississippi farm in Absalom, Absalom!
The trek of a dysfunctional family on their way to the county seat for the burial of their matriarch in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying is another example. The smell of the rotted body in the wagon, and how it permeates, mentally and emotionally infecting the family clustered around it is just as real as the stench and burden of Walter's grandfather to him and his family.
Other symbolism is more subtle. The grandfather's obsession with tobacco and alcohol--which seem to have no effect on him--are a lingering of the older generations, which refuse to die. Rather, he remains alive to devour the slices of the American Pie that those of Walter Miller's generation are rightfully entitled to.
It may be laughable to read Walter Miller comparing himself to Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and Douglas Copeland--misspelling their names, no less--but regular readers of the Walter chronicles realize that underneath the odd syntax and sentence structure, the writing is truly brilliant. They realize that he is right. THE END