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A comparison of 'Old Mrs Chundle' by Thomas Hardy and 'A Visit Of Charity' by Eudora Welty.

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Introduction

A COMPARISON OF 'OLD MRS CHUNDLE'BY THOMAS HARDY AND 'A VISIT OF CHARITY'BY EUDORA WELTY' 'Old Mrs Chundle' is a short story set in a village in southern England. It was written by Thomas Hardy between 1880 and 1890. It is a story of a kind popular at that time, a gripping story which is amusing but also has a character we can sympathise with. It is set against the background of country people to whom religion and the clergymen who represented religion were very important. Clergymen were treated with great respect and people attended church services regularly, with the church activities being a main focus of their lives. This was especially the case in rural communities. 'A Visit of Charity' is a short story set in a very different place, a small town in America in 1949. It concerns the activities of a Campfire Girl, which is a kind of Girl Guide, and the sort of group which middle class girls of that time would join. These girls would take the aims and activities of the Campfire Girls seriously, and the story is about Marian, who is visiting the elderly in order to acquire points. She needs points to obtain a badge. Both stories have a common thread which makes them comparable, although they are so different - attitudes to and treatment of the elderly and to charity, in the sense of caring for the elderly. ...read more.

Middle

The author uses the ideas of hot and cold, light and dark to paint a rather grim forboding picture of the Home. The character of the nurse is given formal language, which symbolizes the coldness of the Home.She speaks curtly and strangely formally'Aquainted'.... Instead of 'do you know ' or 'have you met'. She refers to the plant by its Latin name "multiflora cineraria" instead of as a 'pretty plant'. She says "Visitor!" to the old ladies, as if this was a command instead of an introduction. The nurse's speech is short sharp and sparse which is unfriendly. Her mode of speaking adds to our image of the treatment of the old ladies being a time wasting duty or unpleasant job rather than them being treated as people who need care. The two old ladies have a conversation rather in which they repeat what each other say "Did not" - "Did so. "Pretty flowers" - "they are not pretty". By use of this kind of repetition, there is emphasis on the pointlessness of the conversation, and the pattern of the words, "pretty" and "not pretty" draws the reader's attention to this. One of the old ladies refers to the plant as "stinkweed" and the adjective "stink" could refer to the ladies or to the Home. During the visit, in the old ladies' room, Marion has difficulty speaking "Marion breathed". ...read more.

Conclusion

However, in 'A Visit of Charity' no caring character appears and no character gives anything to the old ladies - the nurse is doing a pain job and the girl is gaining points for herself. The old ladies get nothing from these two people. It is probably rare for anybody to totally give of themselves for nothing in return, but in these two stories, the character who gains most is clearly Mrs Chundle. The stories illustrate the fact that the best care and concern comes not from paid workers ( curates or nurses) but from the people in the community (in the Hardy story the neighbours, but they could be family). Care of the elderly in the late nineteenth century rural England and immediately post war America is not really comparable. However, there has been for many years a decline in care in communities and the help of neighbours family or religious organisation and an increase in care from social workers medical workers and paid homes. This is a trend in societies in the western world, where the elderly are increasingly thought of a nuisances (the government does not want to increase the Old Age Pensions as it thinks the money can be better spent, and hospitals do not want to treat old people as some doctors find it more cost effective if the old person dies) rather than as assets to be respected for their knowledge and experience. The contrasts in attitudes to and care of the elderly in the two stories studied reflect these trends. 1 1 ...read more.

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