Representations Of Death Across Genre Essay

2278 words - 10 pages

Representations of Death Across Genre
Richard Hatch
ENG 125 Introduction to Literature
Elizabeth Hoyle
February 7, 2011

Representations of Death Across Genre
Short stories, poetry and drama are all separate genres in the vast world of literature. Within each genre there are many tools and techniques available to a writer to elicit the desired response from the reader. Every person is different, with different ideas and thoughts on any given subject, and this holds true for writers and their audience alike. Writers put to paper what their senses derive from a particular event, however mundane, in order to allow a reader to experience the same thing. Because of the differences in ...view middle of the document...

The short story I Used to Live Here Once by Jean Rhys is a prime example of how literary concepts are used to convey the overall theme of story. Symbolism is at the forefront of this piece, leading the reader further along the journey until a surprise ending, or revelation, ties the whole thing together. In the first paragraph, Rhys described the stepping stones across the river. These stones represent the journey of a person across the river of life. There are safe spots (the flat stone), crisis (the pointed stone), and the unsafe one that could suggest one’s demise. The glassy sky suggests a viewpoint from an unnatural spot, or how the dead would view a bright blue sky. The widened but unfinished road, the absence of the screw pine and ajoupa, and additions to the now painted house and a car parked out front show a large passage of time, without her knowing. A little more obscure, but no less important, is the description of the grass in the yard. On the surface, it would seem to be just an inert reference to the color of the grass, but for many who take pride in their lawn, the color yellow represents the end of a season, and even the life cycle. Rhys takes a common scene, and incorporates the symbolism into the overall theme of mortality and immortality indicating all living things must eventually wither and die.
Told from a third person limited omniscient point of view, the narrator describes the thoughts and feelings of the main character as the story progresses. “She walked along feeling extraordinarily happy” and “her heart began to beat” shows that the narrator has insight to the woman’s feelings. Toward the end of the story, the theme of mortality and immortality becomes a bit clearer. Given the surprise ending, “this was the first time she knew”, the main character has finally realized that she is dead, and quite possibly a ghost based on the children’s reaction to her. They could not see her, they only felt cold. Showing the main character as a ghost, although we don’t see this until the end, seems to suggest the author believes in an afterlife of some sort. The overall tone of the story is light and happily retrospective with the tinges of death lurking just outside of view until the very end (as cited in Clugston, 2010).
Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Emily Dickinson leaves the reader a wide scope of interpretations based on the tone and setting of the poem. Everything about this poem is peaceful and good; leading the reader to believe the whole event is accepted. All of the symbolism in this piece has a positive spin put on it. Death is visualized as a kind gentleman, taking the time to stop for the narrator, when she did not think she had the time to give. A carriage with room for two imparts images of lovers on a late night ride, implying a relaxed enjoyable journey rather than the ominous trip one normally associates with death. The “fields of gazing grain” and the “setting sun” are both...

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