Friendship and Loyalty in O’Henry’s “After Twenty Years”

O’Henry is arguably the master of twist endings. Whether it is Della and Jim finding out that 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 assumed to be real in “The Last Leaf, each of O’Henry’s intended ending catches the reader more off guard than the previous. More typical of his narrations is the plot that will normally comprise two people whose emotional interaction is stressed by different circumstances and in between, readers learn about the 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
wine barrels low lit

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
Stone Mattress

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 Mattressis 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

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 raised awareness of the same by showing how communities were dealing with the disease through literature. 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

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 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 that the 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 to the reader after the first read. It is then that we go back to the story, from the beginning, and start seeing the instances of foreshadowing in bolder colors.

Continue reading
Empathizing with the culprit- Lamb to the Slaughter Roald Dahl

Empathizing with the Culprit- Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

A murder most foul, an unlikely culprit, and a leg of lamb served to the detectives. Through all these, readers are still likely to associate more with the culprit than any other character.

It is in the evening and heavily pregnant Mary Maloney is eagerly waiting for her husband, Patrick, to come home from work at the Precinct. However, when Patrick arrives, he is jittery and even makes himself another drink- a stronger one this time- before telling Mary that he wishes to leave her.

Continue Reading…
Journey to Transformation

Journey to Transformation: Araby by James Joyce

Joycean epiphany: one of those often subtle but definitive moments, after which life is never quite the same again. All of us, or a majority of us, have felt it. We discuss it so often as a literary effect that we forget how accurately it can depict how human beings experience change. To some extent this translates to the way we shape our memories, editing as we go and forgetting some details . Just like in James Joyce’s short story Araby, a grown man remembering a single night with a mixture of scorn and tenderness, a night when his childhood and adolescence naivety is shed, replaced with anguish.

Continue Reading