Monday, May 11, 2009

Response to Literature

Writing a story can be as free and structureless as a free verse poem. Take "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and "The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe for example. Kate Chopin uses very little characterization and introduction at all. This can develop two different kinds of stories. One that slowly builds up plot and suspense and gives you a feeling of the character's personality, and one that jumps right into climax of story and keeps you excited to find out where story is going.

In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" we are only presented with the fact that Mrs. Mallard "was afflicted with heart trouble." We are given no more information of her personality nor are we given any information on her sister Josephine or her husband's friend Richard. The story then immediately begins with Josephine presenting the information to her sister that her husband has died, which is already the climax. The rest of the story is of extreme excitement and happiness so we stay rather peaked. This very quickly presents us with what the author is going to be talking about throughout the rest of the story. Mrs. Mallard takes no time to think, but explodes into tears of "wild abandonment." She then goes to her room where nearly the rest of the story takes place. We are presented with each and every emotion she goes through one after the other. "She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life." We see here her realization of freedom and the story goes on to give many more allusions to freedom for several paragraphs. There is brief explanation that Mrs.

Mallard's husband may have been a controlling man (Chopin 40). Then we experience a brief fall in emotion as Mrs. Mallard emerges from her room a new woman. We are then quickly launched back up as Brently Mallard arrives home and Mrs. Mallard shrieks in horror and passes away. Even the explanation as to how Brently shows up is extremely brief: "He had been far from the scene of accident, and did not even know there had been one" (Chopin 41).

In Edgar Allen Poe's "The Black Cat" we are given a very large introduction. It is basically an epilogue for a short story. The main character of the story presents himself as the author of the story. He then discusses his beliefs and that he himself does not believe in what he is about to write: "For the … narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief" (Poe 102). The narrator then describes how his own actions in this story have "terrified-have tortured-have destroyed" (102) him. Next he even goes all the way back to his infancy to present us with a characterization. He discusses his love for animals and his constantly being surrounded with pets by his parents. All this description of the narrator gives a feeling like we know him already. We are then introduced to his wife who is also very fond of pets. She tells him one story about how black cats are considered to be witches. This could very possibly be a foreshadowing for the rest of the story.

The story then introduces the next important character Pluto. Pluto, a cat, is given great attention and detail also. During this time we are also presented with the narrator taking on a drinking problem. This gives us a rise in action as the narrator's emotions are now slowly growing beyond his control. We then reach a climax where the narrator in a drunken stupor grabs his once faithful cat in an aggressive manner. The cat then bites his master who takes out a penknife and gouges out the cat's eye. The climax somewhat carries on with the narrator's next action being to hang the animal and get pleasure from it. Then we are presented with a fire, which takes the whole house of the narrator except for one wall. This wall has an image of a large cat with a rope around its neck, which leads us to believe this cat was quite truly a witch despite the explanation the narrator attempted to give. I am not sure if next the plot takes a fall in action or simply another rise in action to a second climax that could also be the conclusion.

The story basically seems to start anew with another cat (105). He once again grows very fond of the cat, then very disgusted with it. Finally, one night while going down some stairs with his wife, the cat trips him up and he is almost sent head first down the stairs. In extreme rage he lifts an axe to kill the animal, but his wife seized his hand. This further angering him he takes his hand back and kills his wife (106). This could be a second climax where the story can now have a third that is the conclusion. We do have a fall in action as the narrator buries the body in a wall and all is well for a while. There is rising action with visits from the police. One the final visit the police would have made the narrator ends up giving himself away and starts rapping on the wall with a cane. All of the sudden this caused a moaning sound to come from the wall and the police were tearing at it. This is our final climax and conclusion to the story as the police discover the body with a black cat resting upon its head (108).

It is now quite evident that a story can be satisfying and enjoyable to read without going to extensive introduction, body and conclusion. All authors have unique, individual styles which is what keeps us reading and interested. We want to experience all these styles so we can choose those we like and appeal most to our senses. Some of us like long, drawn out stories that give us the opportunity to get to know the characters and gives us intensified feelings or emotions. We want to experience a bond with the characters, and Poe helped us feel for the narrator. Then there's those of us who just want action and suspense right away and this is where Kate Chopin comes into play. All humans are different and all writers are different to quench our thirst for entertainment.

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