O’Henry is arguably the master of twist endings. Each of his plot twist catches the reader more off guard than the previous. Whether it is Della and Jim finding out they have sold their most prized possessions to buy each other nearly useless gifts in “The Gift of Magi“ or the drawing of a leaf we all assumed to be real in “The Last Leaf“. More typical of his narrations is a plot comprising two people, whose relationship is stressed by different circumstances. And in between, readers learn about the plot twist. These trademarks are also evident in the short story “After Twenty Years“, along with the author’s satirical humor and witty narration.Continue Reading
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How do you tell your children about life and all its realities? How do you explain the fact that life is as evil as it is good? In Maggie Smith’s 2016 viral poem “Good Bones” the speaker resolves to keep the terrible part from her children and offer hope of making the world beautiful instead. The poem is a parent’s reflection of the real world and how they wish their children could perceive it. Taking a closer look, the poem is also the speaker’s effort to convince herself too that maybe the world could be beautiful; that she could make the world beautiful. Smith applies a realist literary style that effectively relays her message and enhances the theme of life’s reality.Continue Reading
The 1825 Romantic era poem “Work Without Hope” by Samuel Taylor is a lamentation of a man who lacks an object to place his hope and thus, wonders aimlessly and directionless amid nature. While slightly unconventional for a sonnet, the poem begins with the speaker romanticizing nature and how it seems busy going on with its unfading life, blooming only for itself. The poet then introduces a sharp contrast between these nature’s activities with his own lack of hope and an object of desire to keep hope alive. In several instances, the author employs this literary device – contrast – to underscore the misery from being directionless and hopeless and to build on the poem’s main theme: hope.Continue Reading
Kate Chopin’s (1850-1904) short story “The Story of an Hour” narrates events that happen within an hour.
Louise Mallard is a young, calm, and frail woman who suffers from a heart disease. On this day, Louise learns from her sister Josephine and a family friend, Richards, that her husband, Brently Mallard, has died. She briefly weeps in Josephine’s arms and then heads to her room alone.Continue Reading
Thomas Hardy’s (1840-1928) poem The Man He Killed is a lyrical monologue of a soldier who has returned from war. He’s speaking about the war to his friends and native villagers in a pub. In its 1902 original publication in Harper’s Weekly magazine, the poem’s setting is a scene inside the Foxx Inn pub.
Hardy moved a lot between London and Dorset in his life, finally settling in Dorchester. These areas were popular for their antiwar stances on the ongoing second Boer War in South Africa, which lasted from 1899 to 1902. The Man He Killed is just one of the antiwar poems the poet wrote to show the senselessness and negative effects of war.Continue Reading
Raymond Carver’s 1983 short story Cathedral is about awakening and eye-opening experiences that go beyond the physical world. It vividly illustrates the difference between merely looking and seeing; hearing and listening that creates a connection.
The author portrays this so well through the main theme of blindness and other symbolic elements. And more notably, the narrator’s character development, which goes from shallow and insensitive, to gaining the ability to look within themself and see things through another’s perspective.Continue Reading
If you’ve read more of Edgar Allan Poe, then you’ll not be surprised by the horror that is the short story “The Cask of Amontillado.” Other short stories that he had published earlier, such as “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” set a precedent to this Gothic style of writing.
Poe is one of the greatest gothic writers. His macabre works are characterized by an eerie atmosphere, mystery, dark psychology, terror, haunted spaces, and so on, all meant to evoke fear. The stories are comparatively short, full of suspense, and with characters often driven by malady, emotional crises, and other chilling motives.Continue Reading
Eventually, our life experiences shape who we become. As it is with human nature, some of these experiences we can control, while others we can’t, so we react. However, the ways we choose to react with love, hurt, or forgive are all our choices.
“Stone Mattress” is Margaret Atwood’s latest collection of short fiction that she calls ‘tales’ rather than ‘short stories’. The first three tales are connected by narrations and reflections of a poet’s two wives, and lover. While the other stories do not share characters or plot, the entire book is connected through major themes of aging and old age. In “Stone Mattress”, Atwood includes characters that are in their senior years, reflecting on what life has offered, making amends, or retributions.Continue Reading
Everyday we hear about the dying coral reefs in Australia, the Amazon forest fires, the massive number of ocean animals washing ashore with stomachs full of plastics. But how often do we stop to think about our actions that have contributed to this destruction?Continue reading
When the African continent, and especially the Southern region, was grappling with HIV/AIDS pandemic, SIDA, in collaboration with the University of Cape Town, used literature to raise awareness by showing how communities were dealing with the disease. Edward Chinhanhu’s short story Our Christmas Reunion is among the pieces that shone in the ‘Share Your Story about HIV/AIDS’ creative writing competition and anthologized in Nobody Ever Said AIDS: Poems and Stories from Southern Africa. A story that interweaves love, family, innocence, loss, sex education, and AIDS so well that in the end, every one of the themes is felt in equal measure.Continue Reading
Robert Frost’s famous poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ has been anthologized in plentiful collections and quoted in a multitude of settings, some without even knowing it.
Motivational speakers, pastors, promotion, and award speeches all tout its main theme of individualism and ‘following your own path’. How they took a different career path or made an infamous decision and that has put them at that podium. The poem’s last three lines often sum up these powerful talks,Continue Reading