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explore the way Carver handles the genre of the short stories

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Introduction

Explore the way Carver handles the genre of the short story. You should begin your answer with a detailed analysis of one particular story before ranging more widely through the volume as a whole. Walter Allen defined the short story by saying that it,' deals with [or] dramatizes a single incident and in doing so utterly transforms it.' He believes that the short story is recognised as such, 'because we feel that we are reading something that is the fruit of a single moment of time, of a single incident [or] perception'. In Carver's story, 'Intimacy', this is exactly what is done. One event, a man visiting his former wife, is made into an incident which, for these two people, will never be forgotten. Brander Mathews also agrees with this view of Walter Allen's. He made rules with regard to the short story genre and about, "a single character, a single event, a single emotion or the series of emotions called forth by a single situation." These rules, or ideas, are very true to Carver's 'Intimacy', which begins, "I have some business out west anyway, so I stop to see where my former wife lives" this powerful first sentence present many immediate implications to the reader and the use of the word, "anyway", implies that the narrator is making an excuse for his visit in case of dire consequences. This opening is in agreement with Edgar Allen Poe's suggestion that a great short story will contain no written word that hasn't been deliberately placed by the author in the formation of a unique or single effect- part of a pre-established design. ...read more.

Middle

Carver obtains our empathy for his character by basing the story on the narrator's thoughts as opposed to a lot of dialogue, and so we are able to gain his perspective on the incident, "Vicky says I'm crazy...who could blame her?" Here, it's clear that the narrator knows he has done wrong and doesn't try to justify himself, or explain anything. He feels helpless guilt, and, although he brought it on himself, we don't see him as a bad person, merely as a regular human being who makes mistakes, "We're nice people, all of us, to a point." The entire incident takes place in a very short space of time, and as readers, we feel as if we are a 'fly-on-the-wall', watching the story unfold and seeing the events all take place. Because we are hearing it from the narrator's point of view, we are also forced to experience his feelings. It is like we are in his brain, and as he remembers incidents from the past, we remember them with him and learn the history of this man's life. The incident is 'utterly transformed' by the viewpoint which we are encouraged to take. Ordinarily, we would feel anger towards someone who had committed adultery and had hurt their loved one, but Carver phrases the story as such that we understand the dilemma and feel a bond with this man. I believe that this is partly achieved by the narrator's sensible and rationalised thought process, "I wish I could go upstairs and get back in bed with my wife, tell her I'm sorry, there's been a mistake, let's forget all this - then go to sleep and wake with her in my arms. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some are more successful than others at handling this genre successfully, and I believe Carver is one of these writers, especially when related to V. S. Pritchett's definition of a short story as, "something glimpsed while passing [and] given life [turns] into something that illuminates the moment and [has] further-ranging meaning." We are told that this should be dome through the use of "clear and specific language", which is present in all of Carver's work. Pritchett even goes as far to say that, "the words may so be precise they may even sound flat, but they can still carry [and] can still hit all the right notes". Even in the climax of each story, the language remains colloquial and cleverly used so each word is vital to its sentence. For example, in 'Intimacy', the language used while describing the scene where the man holds the hem of the lady's dress is still everyday, informal language, "It's crazy, but I'm still on my knees holding the hem of her dress...It's like I can't move." All of the effects which critics believe make a good short story are exploited by Carver, creating a collection of short stories, all containing the same precise and clear language and the same everyday yet far from mundane events. Therefore, in conclusion, I believe that Carver handles this genre skilfully and capably, using the same methods as other short story writers such as Hemingway and Chekhov, but by incorporating his unique twist (on the short story) into each story, he is able to distance himself from other's works and become successful in his own right, with his own exclusive form of the short story genre. ...read more.

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