english literature short stories review
Please answer the following three sections corresponding to some of the short stories we have read since the course began. The first two parts are worth 5 points each, totaling ten points. They should be approximately five (or more) paragraphs in length each, adding up to 10 paragraphs when finished. The third section has two parts corresponding to some of the selections from the Fiction Reader. Each part will be worth 5 points adding up to a 10 point total for this section. It should also be approximately five (or more) paragraphs in length for each author. The entire assignment is therefore worth 20 points and the length should be about 20 paragraphs long.
1. Poe and Borges
This first question deals with Poe and his short story, ?The Cask of the Amontillado? alongside the Borges story, ?The Garden of the Forking Paths.? As a detective, how would you make sense of Poe?s tale of murder by using Borges tale of the paths and labyrinth? These two tales are related but how they are connected is up to you. One important thing to note is that this type of fiction underscores the story of past events where the detective works to recover the origin of the criminal act while creating his/her own detective story of what potentially happened. This will be the essence of your answer for this first quiz question. Using the two tales as sources of inspiration, what is your unique story regarding the recovery of facts, clues, witnesses, etc. concerning the cask killing? What you must involve yourself in is the process of retracing what occurred to cause this crime, leading to what is, in the cask case, the killing itself. How you do this is up to you.
Your main job in this question is to act as a detective in this case and to link time and space with insult and revenge and then see why this produced a murder. This is where the Borges tale comes in as a possible source of interpretation. If you were called in to analyze this tragic cask event, how would you have solved it? What paths would you have taken? Would some of these paths like in the Borges story lead to other doors of possibilities? If you felt this murder was beyond solution, what clues would you have wished you had found or hoped to have been able to investigate or uncover? What parts regarding both these stories might offer some important leads or hints for you to reflect upon?
Obviously there are no right and wrong answers to this part of the quiz. Just be sure to make your points clearly and substantiate your thoughts with quotes. Be creative!
You still might be wondering what to do so I will now offer some information which might potentially help you with background for this question.
The first aspect you might wish to consider has to do with concealment, revelation and clues. In ?The Garden of the Forking Paths?, Jorge Luis Borges writes about living in different worlds each with some aspects apparent and others hidden. This may sound ridiculous at first, but in a detective or mystery story, the reader examines a multitude of clues from different perspectives, each one leading to a different hypothesis, conclusion or outcome. A certain occurrence may appear to be happening in different worlds because if one thing happens in a certain way, the outcome creates a panorama different from all others previously known or thought about. In this particular Borges story, what is veiled is ultimately revealed. Concealment has been able to turn into exposure. Each choice on the path is a potential point of departure for other forks in the road, almost like crossroads.
Another aspect to understand in this Borges tale is time. What happens when time is not considered as sequential? Could it actually converge at some point on the paths? Are there forks in the road of time? Is there a relationship between time and space? What happens when past time floods into the present? Think about violence. Many times the reason for a certain event is linked to another time period. Revenge and killing is often trans-generational or even linked to a previous week or year in a person?s life or to mental illness. All these points should be kept in mind in order to be applied to Poe?s story.
Now let?s turn to Poe?s ?The Cask of the Amontillado?. This short story highlights what happens in an unnamed Italian city when insult and revenge are thought to have taken place. As you reflect back on Borges, try to see how his thoughts about concealment and space appear as literary elements in Poe. Although this tale does not explain specifics about why this crime was committed, many claim that it does present a clear case of premeditated murder. Yet what we must find out is, why there was a plan for this criminal act in the first place? What paths would a detective have to take to discover the possible cause(s)?
Remember that a detective seeks a solution to every case. The solution may be simple, difficult or impossible but is usually arrived at through the scrutiny of material evidence and/or the careful questioning of witnesses. Sometimes these elements are available and sometimes not. When these aspects are missing, the detective uses his natural instincts and intuition to try to find them.
2. Fonseca and Poe
This second question involves ?Night Drive? by Fonseca and ?The Cask of the Amontillado? by Poe. Many experts say Poe?s characters in this tale were not two people, a predator and victim, but rather only one person and the two sides of that person?s disturbed personality. In this type of analysis, one behavioral side almost has to murder the other side in order to perform some heinous act, such as killing. The dominant side almost has to bury the other recessive side alive to be able to live and do whatever criminal act it pleases.
Try to apply this line of thinking to Fonseca?s story ?The Night Drive?. Let me offer some notes to help you with background. Stylistically, this Brazilian author?s writing is very bleak with blended elements of morbidity and sexuality. Although his characters may be rich or poor, they often show almost psychotic streaks in their personalities. His stories almost always have overtones of violence and sexuality embedded within the text. Fonseca mostly centers these tales on urban lifestyles and the city environment itself, but also occasionally veers off into residential villas surrounding the city and more rural settings. Yet, no matter which place he decides to set his story?s plot in, he emphasizes that ?a writer should have the courage to show what most people are afraid to say.? That is the reason why Fonseca is considered a person not afraid to express his opinions no matter how extreme they may be, even when they supposedly exemplify aspects of alienation, aggression and the emptiness of life. Some critics have said that his writings show modernity as oppressive because somehow people always get hurt by someone or something. Others say that he is strangely democratic, showing that criminality and evil behavior are not totally linked to class structure and socioeconomics but rather belong to the category of human condition.
Violence is always lurking in the atmosphere of Fonseca?s world, and dehumanization is everywhere. He tries in many instances to mix politics, sociology and psychology all together. People live as a group in society but in an extremely fractured way. This way of life causes society to appear even more unstable than it actually is. Instead of remedying this situation and learning to live together more harmoniously, humans resort to using more force and power to keep each other under control employing any technique they can, no matter how dangerous or morally reprehensible it may be. Although in many cases, wealth affords power and privilege; crime also redresses this social imbalance. It seems that evil resides everywhere, in both upper and lower classes. But no matter where a criminal comes from or what his/her background may be at the end of a particular tale, that person has acquired the power to take a life from someone else, or maybe even from him/her self.
For this second part of the quiz, attempt the following. Use Poe?s cask tale (one person and two personalities) as the basis of an analysis of Fonseca?s protagonist in ?Night Drive.? Use in text citations. There is no one way to answer this question. Reflect, analyze and, of course, be creative. Good luck with this second section!!!
3. The Fiction Reader
This posted pdf in the Week Five folder was filled with many selections. By now, you should have read and thought about the texts of Isabel Allende, Edvidge Danticat, and Clarice Lispector. Please pick two different female authors and their works. Then, try to write about gender and Latin American violence. Look within their individual works and analyze how their literary production adds to the themes we have been discussing or an idea that has specifically occurred to you, the reader during this first part of the semester. This question relies more on you and your individual perspective concerning the stories from the reader. Remember you do have a choice in this question as to which two authors you wish to emphasize while analyzing a certain point or highlighting various points within the text. As Nanneke Redcliff states in her academic article entitled, ?Re-Reading Gender?, ?habits of omission, forgetfulness and misrecognition in national, official and normative discourse often indicate or assign women as a muted group, not completely silenced, but represented and often misrepresented in relation to stories of nationhood, family and survival?[but there is a] shifting landscape crosscut by class, gender, age, education, ethnicity and cultural politics?leading to hidden histories and political experiences? being exposed so that opportunities and inclusions may arise. Although gender and violence may usually be linked to concepts of domination and oppression, they do occur according to Redcliff, ?in diverse spaces of production, reproduction, kinship and households, labor, the economy, and social movements.?
Once again read the selections carefully from ?The Fiction Reader? and choose well. Be creative and highlight aspects that have materialized for you during your reading of the texts. Read the course description again and try to enter into some of those areas. I do expect to see some use of in text citations in order to support your thoughts. 5 paragraphs per author , 20 paragraphs total