Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Review of Four Authors' Styles

This is part of a series of reprints from my classes. Once the class is over, I will lose these if I don't save them elsewhere. I've decided to post them here as they may be of some interest. This assignment was for the class to read four stories and write what we thought about each author's style.

Hemmingway’s The Killers is a quick, choppy, simply written story. It’s very light on detail, leaving the reader to decide what kind of town this is set in using a few clues. At the beginning I found the abrupt style to be difficult to follow, the short volleys of wry dialogue are sometimes confusing. By the end I was accustomed to this and easily followed along, it was almost as though I were part of the conversation. The style of the work leads the reader to feel only slightly connected, but not entirely enthralled in the story, which seems to be a similar commitment level as shown by the characters Nick and George.

In a rather stark contrast to Hemmingway’s style, William Faulkner writes flowing, expressive prose in A Rose for Emily. The story is peppered with metaphor and period specific phrases, this along with lengthy descriptions paints a very complete picture. The narration indicates that it is written from the viewpoint of a busybody who feels inexhaustible amounts of pity for Miss Grierson. I believe that it is the writer’s intent for the reader to foresee the ending and perhaps pity the narrator and the townsfolk for their inability to solve the mystery sooner.

We find simpler wording, but longer, broken sentence structure in Olsen’s I Stand Here Ironing. The story is told from the viewpoint of a mother who is disconnected from her oldest daughter. She belabors the failures of her first attempt at raising a child. If Faulkner attempted to claim sorrow for a character but evoked sorrow for the narrator then Olsen does the opposite, I feel that the narrator wants to be pitied while it is obvious that her daughter is more deserving. I had difficulty connecting with this piece, which may be due to my contempt for the narrator but I also found the style to be boring and arduous.

Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart is another very expressive piece. He uses longer, broken sentences with repetition and extensive punctuation to heighten the sense of madness in the story’s main character. There is a strong irony present throughout the story as the protagonist vehemently maintains his sanity while his deeds and tone betray the opposite. The style of this story was the most compelling of the four for me, told otherwise it may merely be boring police drama.

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