In James Joyce’s “Araby” and Flannery O’Conner’s “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” both authors direct the reader’s attention to a key moment of insight or discovery by building the readers expectations throughout the story and then surprising the reader with an ending where the main character contradicts the readers built expectations, thus highlighting the epiphany. Joyce directs the reader through the uses of setting and narration while O’Conner heavily uses dialogue.
In Araby, the opening scene starts out with the unnamed narrator describing his surroundings as the way he is experiencing them. The word choice makes his environment seem bleak, stale, and unchanging. He states things like, “Air musty from having been long enclosed, hung in all the rooms, and the waste room behind the kitchen was littered with old useless papers. “ A moment later he describes a bicycle pump under a tree as Rusty- implying that things haven’t changed for a while.
Then when he writes, “When the short days of winter came, dusk fell before we had eaten our dinners. When we met in the street, the house had grown somber. ” Using words like rusty, musty, old useless, and giving the imagery of days that darken early and houses that are somber are all descriptions that create in the readers head an image of a bleak and unchanging environment. The narrator continues, “The space of sky above us was the ever-changing violet and towards it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns. This phrase symbolizes how the narrator feels, him being like the lamps that lift at the sight of change. The narrator’s descriptive devices take a change when he begins to describe Mangan’s sister, “Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side. ” This language exemplifies movement and change as her dress swung and she moved her body and tosses her hair which contrasts with the stale unchanging environment the narrator just finished describing.
The narrator continues to used language with movement and excitement throughout the story such as “When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped. ” to contrast with the rest of the surroundings that the narrator describes. This directs to the reader the narrators magnetic draw towards change amidst his mundane environment thus prefacing the reader for the narrators epiphany when realizing that his infatuation with Mangan’s sister was merely a vain wish for change and that his relationship with Mangan’s sister with fail his expectations just like the Bazaar as his final tatement he says “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity, and my eyes burned with anguish and anger. ” In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” up until the very end, the Grandma is focused on herself and has a self-righteous attitude, imposing on others that they are not as good as her. Readers are able to grasp the Grandma’s selfish personality mostly through the dialog such as, “In my time, children were most respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else.
People did right then. ” Consistently she nags and mocks with demeaning sarcasm. Several time she states “People are not nice like they used to be. ” and says comments that imply her obsession with being a lady such as her reasoning for dressing up in the event there was a car crash. In moments of Bailey’s frustration, the grandmother continues her imposing attitude when Bailey yells “ If you all don’t shut up we won’t go anywhere! ” and the Grandma adds, “It would be very educational for them. Toward the end when the Misfit finds them, the Grandma still continues as a quaking old lady that exclaims the Misfits name when she recognizes him, which the Misfit states it would have been better for all of them if they hadn’t recognized who he was suggesting that their lives may have been spared. Her actions consistently reinforce her personality that annoys and gets her family in trouble. These quotes, and most of the dialog from the Grandma set the reader up to believe that she could never change and is stuck in her selfish ways.
By directing the reader’s attention on the Grandma’s continual self-righteousness and selfish acts, this creates a high contrasting moment at the end when the Grandma faces death and has her epiphany, making a comment very unexpected by the reader thus drawing all of the reader’s attention to that very moment. The Grandma is sets up the ephiphanic moment at the end thus directing the reader’s attention to the contrasting moment when the grandma faces death and realizes an insight contrary to what the reader could expect her to make.
Once again, both authors directed the reader’s attention to develop notions about the main character than dramatically changing their reaction at the end of the story to dramatize the epiphany and make it a story that lasts in the readers mind. In Kafka’s, “Metamorphasis” and John Cheever’s, “The Swimmer” both authors tell an allegory, a story with two meanings; a literal meaning and symbolic meaning. Kafka makes use of allegorical symbols through objects, characters, nd imagery that server as commentary on Gregors profession, dysfunctional family, and other things. Cheever also makes use of allegorical symbols in similar ways to Kafka, commenting on the journey of life. Kafka’s decision to have Gregor transform into a bug and not an array of other choices has many allegorical implications. Gregor, being a vermin, is a reflection of his profession as a salesman, which in society are often categorized as “vermin”. There is something buggy about salesmen in the way that many are slimy and crafty to achieve sales.
Salesmen historically have a reputation of being dishonest or self-interested, which in society are associated traits of a low, disrespected profession. Salesmen are shoed away by customers much like bugs are despised and unwelcomed guests in any home. Gregor is also treated like a type of worker bee or bug by his boss who acts as a micro manager by showing up to his home the day Gregor didn’t come in for work, and disapproving the work Gregor was currently doing in front of his family.
When his boss says, “Let us hope it’s nothing serious. Though, on the other hand, I must say, that we business people-fortunately or unfortunately –often very simply must overlook a slight indisposition in order to get on with business. ” He is implying that Gregor shouldn’t have an excuse for missing work if he took his job seriously. The boss looks down upon Gregor as he would to a bug in a literal and symbolic sense. Kafka makes use of allegorical symbols to comment on Gregors dysfunctional family.
One example is how Kafka doesn’t mention any of the family’s first names except for Grete, Gregors sister who is the only member other than a brief occasion of the mother that has pity on Gregor. She is the one who feeds him and cleans up after him, thus impying their close human relationship. Though his siter also undergoes a type of metamorphosis from changing to a girl into a woman, which plays a part in her decision at the end of the story when she decides that Gregor must leave.
Gregor clearly does not have a good relationship with his father as he is only concerned about the financial situation and has no interaction with Gregor other than being embarrassed and horrified when others see him, and is quick to blame Gregor such as the incident when he logged an apple into Gregors back for thinking that he tried to hurt his mother and sister. Other allegorical symbols in this story could include a soul trapped in a helpless body. Sometimes watch things around us change and go on and we can’t do anything about it, but ccept the reality of the circumstances we are in. Another could be the absurdity of life, since this story deals with an absurd highly unrealistic plot, “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. ” Though highly unrealistic Kafka used these as examples of a bizarre extreme to demonstrate the point that life has unusual and unexpected occurrences. Each of the characters in the story exemplify a “type” of person and how they react in extreme and unusual circumstances which life can often throw at us.
Cheever’s story, “The Swimmer” can be looked at as an allegory of the life’s experiences. We start out young and daring, feeling invincible at best, like Neddy feels at the beginning of his journey, “a pilgrim, an explorer, a man with a destiny. ” “The day was beautiful and seemed to him that the long swim might enlarge and celebrate his beauty. ” But as we go through life’s swims, struggles begin to way down on us, but our stubborn determination to be happy and achieve success blinds us from what is happening in our surroundings, “Why was he determined to complete his journey even if it meant putting his life in danger? Much like Neddy who takes a drink and keeps swimming when he confronts emotional discomfort or confusion from some of his friends who make comments to Neddy implying their anger or dissatisfaction with him. We too can fall victim of this trap, seeking for pleasure to escaping pain which will only haunt us later, like Neddy’s discovery of his empty desolate home and the end of his journey.
The story starts out as a realistic plot, but as the story goes on in becomes evident that Cheever is writing an allegory on the experience of life, considering that a whole man’s life can’t take place in one day from swimming from pool to pool. This story could also be an commentary ( or allegory) on a higher class suburbian man born into a self-sustaining family and able to indulge in whatever pleasures he so desires just as drinking and swimming as though there were not a care in the world.
This can be implied since Neddy who is a man with many friends who own pools, something generally only owned by wealthier families. There are many more allegorical symbols that can be found in these stories on several levels, a trait of a well written story. Both authors made great use of allegorical symbols with their imagery and objects. May we all examine our lives with deeper meaning like these stories can be examined for multiple meanings.
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