O’Henry is arguably the master of twist endings. Each of his plot twist catches the reader more off guard than the previous. Whether it is Della and Jim finding out they have sold their most prized possessions to buy each other nearly useless gifts in “The Gift of Magi“ or the drawing of a leaf we all assumed to be real in “The Last Leaf“. More typical of his narrations is a plot comprising two people, whose relationship is stressed by different circumstances. And in between, readers learn about the plot twist. These trademarks are also evident in the short story “After Twenty Years“, along with the author’s satirical humor and witty narration.Continue Reading
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin Literary Analysis: Plot, Themes, Characters, Setting, and Symbolism
Kate Chopin’s (1850-1904) short story “The Story of an Hour” narrates events that happen within an hour.
Louise Mallard is a young, calm, and frail woman who suffers from a heart disease. On this day, Louise learns from her sister Josephine and a family friend, Richards, that her husband, Brently Mallard, has died. She briefly weeps in Josephine’s arms and then heads to her room alone.Continue Reading
War and its Irrationality in Thomas Hardy’s Poem“The Man He Killed”
Thomas Hardy’s (1840-1928) poem The Man He Killed is a lyrical monologue of a soldier who has returned from war. He’s speaking about the war to his friends and native villagers in a pub. In its 1902 original publication in Harper’s Weekly magazine, the poem’s setting is a scene inside the Foxx Inn pub.
Hardy moved a lot between London and Dorset in his life, finally settling in Dorchester. These areas were popular for their antiwar stances on the ongoing second Boer War in South Africa, which lasted from 1899 to 1902. The Man He Killed is just one of the antiwar poems the poet wrote to show the senselessness and negative effects of war.Continue Reading
“Cathedral” by Raymond Carver: Symbolism in the Audio Tapes and What they Reveal about each Character
Raymond Carver’s 1983 short story Cathedral is about awakening and eye-opening experiences that go beyond the physical world. It vividly illustrates the difference between merely looking and seeing; hearing and listening that creates a connection.
The author portrays this so well through the main theme of blindness and other symbolic elements. And more notably, the narrator’s character development, which goes from shallow and insensitive, to gaining the ability to look within themself and see things through another’s perspective.Continue Reading
Montressor as a Keen Observer of Human Behavior and Psychology: “The Cask Of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe.
If you’ve read more of Edgar Allan Poe, then you’ll not be surprised by the horror that is the short story “The Cask of Amontillado.” Other short stories that he had published earlier, such as “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” set a precedent to this Gothic style of writing.
Poe is one of the greatest gothic writers. His macabre works are characterized by an eerie atmosphere, mystery, dark psychology, terror, haunted spaces, and so on, all meant to evoke fear. The stories are comparatively short, full of suspense, and with characters often driven by malady, emotional crises, and other chilling motives.Continue Reading
Layers and Layers of Experience: “Stone Mattress” by Margaret Atwood
Eventually, our life experiences shape who we become. As it is with human nature, some of these experiences we can control, while others we can’t, so we react. However, the ways we choose to react with love, hurt, or forgive are all our choices.
“Stone Mattress” is Margaret Atwood’s latest collection of short fiction that she calls ‘tales’ rather than ‘short stories’. The first three tales are connected by narrations and reflections of a poet’s two wives, and lover. While the other stories do not share characters or plot, the entire book is connected through major themes of aging and old age. In “Stone Mattress”, Atwood includes characters that are in their senior years, reflecting on what life has offered, making amends, or retributions.Continue Reading
“A Massive Dying Off” by Camille T. Dungy- A Poem Analysis
Everyday we hear about the dying coral reefs in Australia, the Amazon forest fires, the massive number of ocean animals washing ashore with stomachs full of plastics. But how often do we stop to think about our actions that have contributed to this destruction?Continue reading
Tying Symbolism and Irony in “Our Christmas Reunion” by Edward Chinhanhu
When the African continent, and especially the Southern region, was grappling with HIV/AIDS pandemic, SIDA, in collaboration with the University of Cape Town, used literature to raise awareness by showing how communities were dealing with the disease. Edward Chinhanhu’s short story Our Christmas Reunion is among the pieces that shone in the ‘Share Your Story about HIV/AIDS’ creative writing competition and anthologized in Nobody Ever Said AIDS: Poems and Stories from Southern Africa. A story that interweaves love, family, innocence, loss, sex education, and AIDS so well that in the end, every one of the themes is felt in equal measure.Continue Reading
The Theme of Regret in ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost
Robert Frost’s famous poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ has been anthologized in plentiful collections and quoted in a multitude of settings, some without even knowing it.
Motivational speakers, pastors, promotion, and award speeches all tout its main theme of individualism and ‘following your own path’. How they took a different career path or made an infamous decision and that has put them at that podium. The poem’s last three lines often sum up these powerful talks,Continue Reading
Hints of Evil: How Shirley Jackson Foreshadows the True Meaning of “The Lottery”
Nearly everyone who reads Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery cannot even begin to fathom the true meaning of the lottery until it has already happened. The shock that we experience at the end on learning that the lottery’s winner becomes a sacrificial lamb to fulfill a tradition that has long lost its meaning catches us off guard.
And I think this is partly the reason this short story is still a success among Jackson’s readers; unknown to the reader, she builds on suspense that we only come to realize in the end. The hints that Jackson provides throughout the story only become evident after the first read. It is then that we go back to the story from the beginning and start seeing these instances of foreshadowing in bolder colors.Continue reading