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“The Withered Arm” by Thomas Hardy and “The Test” by Henry Sleaser are two brilliant short stories which show huge differences between nineteenth and twentieth century writing and social structure.

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Introduction

Wide Reading Coursework "The Withered Arm" by Thomas Hardy and "The Test" by Henry Sleaser are two brilliant short stories which show huge differences between nineteenth and twentieth century writing and social structure. Written in the nineteenth century and set in rural Wessex, "The Withered Arm" tells a tale about a poor middle aged woman named Rhoda Brook. Rhoda previously had a child with a rich landowner named Mr. Lodge. But because of the huge difference in class Mr. Lodge left her and never looked back. Over the next twelve years Rhoda lived her life as an outsider, simply because she was a single mother. Rhoda earned her living as a milk maid, it was here where she overheard Mr. lodge was getting married. She overhears many things about this woman "Gertrude", and finds herself hating her before she even meets her. One night she had a nightmare about her, she ends up grabbing Gertrude's arm and then waking up. Surprisingly when Rhoda first actually meets Gertrude she is a sweet kind person, they become friends and Gertrude reveals a mark on her arm which had been bothering her. ...read more.

Middle

However Vernon had intended on this happening as he himself was not so sure about the boys innocence. He instead told the court how keen Benjy was to have the test done in court and no guilty man would. The jury voted him innocent. Hardy describes a nineteenth century rural scene in the opening pages of his story. The dialogue alone subjects that it was written in the nineteenth century "The cows were in full pail" "He do bring home his bride tomorrow" "Years younger than he they say" When this dialogue is compared with that of today it is clear that the story was set at least a hundred years ago. In the first few lines Hardy describes the milkers and milkmaids. "An old milkman in a long white wropper and with the brim of his hat tied down......." Aside from the fact that milking by hand is laughed apon these days, the quick description of what they were wearing is enough to tell you that these people were not from this century. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though it was because of her son that she was treated this way she still loves and takes care of him. However the boys father, Mr. Lodge takes no financial or emotional responsibility for him. "She was with Mr. Lodge, what did he do?" Rhoda "Same as usual" Boy "Took no notice of you?" Rhoda "none" Boy Mr Lodge doesn't want anything to do with his illegitimate son, he treats him like a stranger and regards him as an embaressment. He feels so embarresed about his son he doesn't even tell his new wife about him. "how that poor lad stared at me" Gertrude "I saw that he did" Mr. Lodge "He is one of the village?" "I think he lives with his mother a mile or two off" In contrast to Farmer Lodge, Benjy's father is extremely supportive and does everything in his power to get the best lawyer he can for his son. "I have money, the family, we all got together. I run a fuel oil buisiness; I'm selling the big truck. I can pay what you ask Mr. Wedge." Benjy's father, Mr. Blesker begs pleads and tries everything he can to get Vernon to take the case. ...read more.

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