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The Whole Towns Sleeping,” by Ray Bradbury and “A Terribly Strange Bed,” by Wilkie Collins.

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Wide Reading Assignment The two stories that I compared for this assignment were "The Whole Towns Sleeping," by Ray Bradbury and "A Terribly Strange Bed," by Wilkie Collins. I believe these stories demonstrate how social and historical influences may have an effect on text and on the styles of both the 20th Century and the Pre-20th Century writer. I focused mainly on the techniques used by each writer to build up tension and create suspense, as both the stories are based on the theme of fear. I also looked at how the writers use the language of their stories to make you, the reader, feel the emotions with the characters in their stories. "The Whole Towns Sleeping," has an idyllic setting and starts with the sentence: "It was a warm summer night in the middle of Illinois country. The little town was deep, far away from everything, kept to itself by a river and a forest and a ravine. In the town the sidewalks were still scorched..." This description gives no hints or suggestions of any danger or nastiness anywhere in the story. "A Terribly Strange Bed," however, has quite a different setting. It is set in the "delightful city of Paris." The story starts, "shortly after my education at college was finished I happened to be staying at Paris with an English friend. ...read more.


let us go somewhere where we can see a little genuine, blackguard, poverty-stricken gambling with no false gingerbread glitter thrown over it at all. Let us get away from fashionable Frascati's, to a house where they don't mind letting in a man with a ragged coat, or a man with no coat, ragged or otherwise." The very length of these sentences in my opinion tends to lessen the impact that Collins' wants his words to have on the reader. Collins describes the people in this blackguard betting house with great detail so that we, the readers, can get a 'feel' for the place and so he can create an atmosphere for the story. He describes the people using the following sentences; "We did not find many men there. But, few as the men were who looked at us on our entrance, they were all types - lamentably true types - of their respective classes." "We had come to see blackguards, but what these men were was something worse. There is a comic side, more or less appreciable, in all blackguardism - here there was nothing but tragedy - mute, weird tragedy. The quiet in the room was unbearable. The thin, haggard, long-haired young man, whose sunken eyes fiercely watched the turning up of the cards, never spoke; the flabby, fat faced, pimply player, who pricked his piece of pasteboard perseveringly to register how often black won and ...read more.


Then when the Englishman is quite drunk the old soldier decides to help him sober up by getting him a cup of the gambling-house's 'strongest coffee.' We later find out that the coffee was drugged. After the Englishman has drunk his coffee the 'Old Soldier' persuades him to stay the night at the gambling-house as it would be too dangerous to go home in his state of drunkenness, the Englishman agrees and is shown to his room. The next few paragraphs of the story describe what his bedroom is like. The Englishman soon realises that the canopy of his four-poster bed is closing down on him, and we find out about this gradually as Collins again drags out his sentences and, I feel, lessens the impact of them. The Englishman is only awake because his coffee was drugged too strongly. After the Englishman escapes the gambling-house he makes his way to the police -station and he tells the police about the people and the 'evil goings-on' at the corrupted gambling-house. The story finishes with a non-dramatic climax of the police following the Englishmans advice and going to the gambling-house. There they find out about the nature of the bed and arrest all of the people in the gambling-house. Overall, after reviewing both stories I have decided that although both the stories are highly interesting, I prefer the style of Ray Bradbury and his story, 'The Whole Town's Sleeping.' Ryan Maclean P12 ...read more.

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