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The Shawl By C Ozick

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2946 words Published: 25th Apr 2017

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The narrator of this short story is a third person narrator. It is also an omniscient narrator as he knows everything about his characters. The story is told through Rosas eyes.

The story gives an account of the Nazi period. The events take place in a concentration camp where Rosa, Magda and Stella, the three central characters of the story, struggle to survive. Hopelessness and sorrow are highlighted thorough the narrative.

Magda is an innocent baby who becomes a victim in the bitterness of the period, whereas Stella is jealous of Magda ─she wants the shawl for herself, and resentful. This is shown when it is said that: “Stella wanted to be wrapped in a shawl, hidden away, asleep, rocked by the march, a baby, a round infant in arms”. Another example is when the narrator says: “Rosa gave almost all her food to Magda, Stella gave nothing […] Stella took the shawl away and made Magda die.” Stella’s indignation leads to the baby’s death when she stole the shawl without thinking that the baby might be seen by the officials. The loss of Magda heads Rosa and Stella into grief.

Symbolism has a significant role in the story. Cynthia Ozick uses it in order to give some background of the characters. For instance, she makes reference to the baby girl as “someone who is already a floating angel”, “smooth feathers of hair nearly as yellow as the Star sewn into Rosa’s coat”.

Another symbol is the shawl, seen as a “magic shawl, it could nourish an infant for three days and three nights”. This blanket represents warmness on behalf of Rosa who tries to cover Magda with it in order to keep her alive. On the other hand, the shawl also represents protection from the officials of the camp. Magda feels safe with the blanket. When Rosa has run out of milk, Magda sucked on the shawl, and this keeps her quite all the time: “The shawl’s good flavor, milk of linen”. This shawl also symbolizes hope as it was the only possibility the three people had to survive, but it also represents the matter that led them into grief.

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Regarding the main theme in the narrative, the most significant one is survival. Rosa strives with the idea if she should give the child to a beholder or not. For one moment, she thought that giving her baby away will save his life, but she decided not to do it because that will be risky for her and for the baby as well.

The culmination of events is reached when Stella gets cold and she steels the shawl in order to get warm. Therefore, Magda begins to cry and the camp officials caught her and kill her.

The language used is metaphorical. In the story, the word ‘sun’ emphasizes that terrible things are going to happen, although it is usually used to represent hope.

Maus, by Art Spiegelman

From my point of view the relationship between Vladek and his son Art is the most significant point in the story. The narrative deals with sentiments of guilt, for instance, as those of Artie of not having a good relationship with his dad. I am saying this because at the beginning of the story, Art says that they were not getting on well.

Regarding the narrator of the story, it is a first person narrator. Moreover, the story can been seen from two points of view, firstly, from Vladek’s perspective, who was anxious and afraid of all he had to overcome in the concentration camps, and secondly, from Artie’s perspective, his son, who was struggling his feelings towards his father.

The story is written with a melancholic tone and it expresses distress as the past mistreats their present.

The matter of survival has a significant role in the graphic novel as Vladek struggles to survive in the Nazi camps.

The story is structured in two ways: in the first place, the son who narrates his relationship with his dad, while taking notes of his experiences in war in order to write a comic, and on the other hand, the story about a couple married in the Nazi period.

To conclude, this graphic novel is bitter and full of savageness and brutality. It is a captivating survival story.

Last leaf, by O. Henry

This is a touching story about the value of life and hope. It deals with the difficulties we might encounter throughout life.

The whole story focuses on Johanna, the main character, who is a hopeless woman. She is no more confident as she suffers of pneumonia. She does not have a positive approach in her life; therefore she is not strong to overcome her disease. She has the paranoid idea that when the last leaf of the vine will fall, she will die. The woman was counting the leaves every day and when she saw the last leaf she was sure she will die: “She was looking out of window and counting -counting backwards”, “When the last one falls I must go, too” This has to do with her psychological situation. She was reckless. There was a chaos in her mind that made her say things like: “I thought it would surely fall during the night. I heard the wind. It will fall today, and I shall die at the same time.”

Mr. Behrman’s sacrifice is seen a noble thing towards Johanna. He decided to paint the last leaf in the cold, outside, and this led him to death. He saved Johanna of thinking that she was going to die when the last leaf will fall off. The author shows us that sacrificing life for someone else is very gentle.

The matter of friendship has a significant role in this short story. The two women were very close to each other. Sue takes care of Joana in order to help her overcome her disease. She is a great support to her sick friend as she holds her up from beneath. Moreover, although Mr. Behrman was not a sensible person, he cared about the girls, especially Johanna. This is seen when he decided to paint the leaf in the cold, outside the building where he was living, sacrificing himself for the sake of Johanna.

Regarding the style in which the story is written, I would say that this short narrative is not very detailed and complicated, but quite the opposite. The author used no complex sentences in order to narrate this story.

The tone is cheerless and pitiful, because the sick woman was very sick and she has no desire to live. We can see this when the doctor says that “‘She is very sad. She doesn’t want to live.”

As regards the end of the story, I think it was something that no one expected because no one presumed that Mr. Behrman will die and Johanna will get better so soon. I believe the end was not closed as we did not know what happened with the two women afterwards. REVISE level-headed

The bride comes to Yellow Sky, by Stephen Crane

The story is about a man called Jack Potter, the town marshal of Yellow Sky who wants to marry a woman. He is anxious about doing it without notifying it to his community.

The two lovers are quite funny as they are described to be clumsy and unsure about their relationship. Heading to Yellow Sky, the couple gets very tender in the train and some passengers start to make fun of them.

The man is very nervous and embarrassed that he got married in secret. Maybe he is ashamed about his bride as she is “not pretty, nor was she very young”. On the other hand, Scratchy Wilson is a drunken man who was looking for someone to fight with. His name means he is a violent man. He gets irritated seeing that no one wants to get involved in a gunfight with him. He goes to Potter’s, but seeing that the man is unarmed and that he got married, he drops the gunfight and walks away. Wilson takes into consideration that Potter is a married man and that he has to look after his wife.

To build a fire, by Jack London

This is a story about a man who is not a knowledgeable adventurer as he strives to endure the coolness. He overlooks all the details that show danger and he underrates the cold. He did not take into consideration that no one went there in the last month.

Regarding the narrator, he is going inside the character’s mind. He is the one aware of the causes and consequences, not the man. He explains things of what is right and what is wrong; therefore he is a teaching narrator.

We are not interested in the man’s personality but the circumstances. The situation is the most important.

The main conflict is the one between the man and nature, as he struggles to survive. However, he is not very willing to think intensely and he is unable to foresee that the fire extinguished.

Survival is the main motivation for the man in such a way that the man defends himself against nature.

Finally, he assimilates everything; he fights with the idea of dying.

There is no harmony with nature; it is opposite to the romantic idea of harmony between men and nature. There is no connection between men and nature, no emotions.

The man ends dead, losing battle with the frost.

We have very basic background, no portrait of the society.

You don’t feel like crying while reading the story because it is logical to happen what happened to the man.

Woman Who Fell From The Sky

The woman who fell from the sky had a daughter who got pregnant because she watched to the West. She had two boys, one right-handed, and the other left-handed. So, each one represented the good and the evil. Both of them started to create animals and plants but in a different way.

In the beginning, in the Sky World, a pregnant wife asked her husband to fetch the delicacies she craved. But she wanted the bark of a root of the Great Tree in the middle of the Sky World, which none were permitted to touch. Finally, however, he gave in, and scraped away soil to bare the root of the Tree.

Underneath was a hole, and as the woman peered down into it, she fell through. The birds helped transport her as she fell, and the great Sea Turtle received her on his back.

Here, on the Sea Turtle’s back, she planted bits of the roots and plants she had brought from the Sky World. And she walked across the turtle’s back, planting, praying and creating the Earth that we know as Turtle Island.

The woman who had fallen from the sky then had a daughter, who became impregnated by the West Wind. While in the womb, the daughter’s unborn twins began to quarrel about how they should emerge, the left-handed twin refusing to be born in the usual way. Instead, he forced himself out of his mother’s left armpit, killing her as a result.

The newborn twins then buried their mother, who became Corn Mother, source of corn, beans and squash, the Three Sisters of the Iroquois. From her heart grew sacred tobacco, used to send messages and thanks to the Sky World.

The two brothers continued to compete with each other as they created the animals and plants, and in the process, represented different ways of living. Right-Handed Twin created the beautiful hills, lakes, blossoms, gentle creatures; Left-Handed Twin, the jagged cliffs and whirlpools, thorns and predators.

Right-Handed Twin was always truthful, reasonable, goodhearted, and “straight-arrow”; Left-Handed Twin lied, fought, rebelled and made “crooked” choices.

Because Right-Handed Twin created human beings, he is known as “Our Creator,” and “The Master of Life.”

But Left-Handed Twin helped, and invented rituals of sorcery and healing. The world they built included both cooperation and competition, loving kindness and aggression.

After they finished their creations, the continued to compete in other ways – by gambling, by playing lacross, then fighting with clubs.

One day, grasping a deer antler, Right-handed Twin finally prevailed, and killed his brother, throwing the body of Left-Handed Twin over the edge of the earth.

As a result, Right-Handed Twin rules day and the Sky-World and Left-Handed Twin prevails over night and the lower world.

Grandmother Skywoman was furious that Right-Handed Twin murdered his brother, and accused him of wrongdoing.

Angry, and believing that grandmother had always favored the errant Left- Handed Twin, he cut off her head and threw it up toward the sky, where it became the Moon.

Then he threw her body into the ocean, where it became all the fish of the sea.

The Iroquois believe that both Left-Handed Twin and Right- Handed Twin are necessary for the world to be in balance.

This tension and struggle for balance between the two brothers and principles of life is incorporated into Iroquois festivals and cycles of life.

She landed in a vast watery place, with no land in sight. Turtle arose from the water and let her rest on his back. Meanwhile, Muskrat dove beneath the water and brought up mud to form the earth. Soon after, the woman gave birth to twin sons-one good and one evil-who created all the natural features of the earth and sky. According to some stories, she gave birth to a daughter, and that woman was the mother of the twins.

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The good twin shaped the sky and created the sun. He also made the moon, stars, mountains, and many plants and animals. The evil twin set out to destroy his brother’s creations. He created darkness to drive the sun from the sky and made monsters, storms, and various kinds of dangerous beasts. When creation was finished, the brothers fought. The good twin won and banished his evil brother from the earth. Some stories say that the evil twin became ruler of the underworld and still tries to spread evil in the world.

In the beginning

In this story it is said that god is the creator of the earth. He is the one who create everything and it made it good. He created the animals and the plants. The culmination of his conception took place when he created the man, first human being, different from the other beings, as he was formed in God’s image. This means he could communicate with the Creator. Then He created the woman in order to keep company to the man. The man called her Eve. Moreover, God created a garden for the two human beings and told them that they could eat of many trees, but not “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, because they will certainly die. If they will try that tree they will have their eyes wide open and know what is good and what is evil.

Adam and Eve were tested by their Creator, but the serpent, who symbolizes the evil, tried to persuade them to eat from the forbidden tree. The reptile tried to tempt Eve and he succeeded as he ate from the prohibited tree. Then she gave some to Adam; therefore they betrayed God’s faith.

Finally, the serpent accomplished his goal to isolate the two human beings from their Creator. He spoilt their existence in the garden that God created for them. God eventually decided to send Adam and Eve away because of their disloyalty.

Sherman Alexis’ short stories:

This is what it means to say Phoenix, Arizona

Victor finds out that his father had passed away. When he greets Thomas, he is amazed how the man knew about his father death. Thomas wanted to enjoy Victor in his journey. During their trip together, Thomas told Victor about the experiences he had with his dad. They used to be friends when they were little, but when they grew up, they fell apart.

Thomas was a story teller. No one could stand him because he was always telling stories to anyone who was keen to listen.

Thomas has little hope at the end but Victor doesn’t.

It is a light-hearted story, that doesn’t seem to be a tragedy.

Victor does not have a friend. He’s alone. Why?

Irony present in the story.

We need funny moments in a story and Thomas gave us a few moments while they were driving or when they were in the plane.

Throughout the story they gained knowledge.

The lone ranger and Tonto fistfight in Heaven

Conflict between whites (The Lone Ranger) and Indians (Tonto).

The policeman told him he does not fill the profile of the neighbourhood.

He was a failure. He went back to the Indian Reservation.

He left Seattle in the middle of the night and went home to an Indian Reservation.

An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Peyton was not prepared to face the Civil War. A soldier averted him from recruiting in the army. The man was weak, so he was deceived by the army. He was unwise, unaware and selfish of not thinking about the responsibility he had towards his wife and children. He only thought about his purpose to contribute to the southern cause.

There is misunderstanding

He images falling down the bridge and from then on he imagines escaping, but actually he was dead. At first, I doubted about the man managing to escape or if it was just his imagination.

Imagination vs. reality which can make the reader get confused.

Time: civil War

The beginning and the end were very confusing.

Flashback that explains the context of the story. Fight with nature. Death, life.

Imagination vs real events, life and death.

Knowledge is unreliable.

The narrator made us confused. The action deceived us.

Reality might be deceptive.

Struggle to live

Moral judgments are out of question.


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