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What aspects of the short story tradition are exemplified in "Odour of Chrysanthemums"?

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Introduction

What aspects of the short story tradition are exemplified in "Odour of Chrysanthemums"? Although no strict guidelines exist for the writing of short stories, there are conventions established by tradition. I believe that, though "Odour of Chrysanthemums" does demonstrate several of these conventions, there are some aspects of the story that are most definitely unconventional. Short stories are, by definition, short and it is generally the case that an author will keep to one plotline, avoiding the use of complex, divergent subplots. In "Odour of Chrysanthemums" there certainly is one central, dominant plot line, and the story does not ever obviously diverge from it. However, Lawrence does hint at other plots, such as the involvement of the Rigley family. His short description of them sets up a completely plausible opportunity to describe the family in detail, but he chooses not to - instead he describes merely enough to imply the rest of the detail about the Rigleys - and thus a wealth of people similar to the Rigleys, with large families and living centred around the kitchen. Overall, though, this is a perfectly good example of a short story with a traditionally simple and linear plot. ...read more.

Middle

In my experience an author will tend to use short, simple sentences in preference to long, complex ones when writing short stories, probably in order to keep the reader involved, and to keep a dynamic atmosphere going. For instance, in the description of the Bates at supper, Lawrence uses clear and brief sentences. She looked at the children. Their eyes and their parted lips were wondering. The mother sat rocking in silence for a time. Then she looked at the clock. This trend is apparent throughout the story, even in the lengthy ending where the descriptive and poetic aspect of the narrative becomes increasingly novelistic. They had denied each other in life. Now he had withdrawn. An anguish came over her. It was finished then: it had become hopeless between them long before he died. I would say that although Lawrence's use of sentences in this story is not quite as extreme as that employed by the likes of Maupassant, it is pretty average. There is nothing that goes against tradition in this respect. One of my favourite aspects of the short story tradition is the way that many authors will deliberately toy with the readers expectations. ...read more.

Conclusion

Commonly an author will make selective use of dialogue to flesh out a minor character (quite often with tongue-in-cheek regional accents). Odour of Chrysanthemums has a wonderful example of this in Mr. Rigley's manner of speech. The sentence, "'Asna 'e come whoam yit?" paints a picture pit all by itself, of a Newcastle coal miner covered in grime from the pit. Although it's not really a major part of the tradition and by no means overwhelmingly common, this has to be one of my favourite parts of this story. In general I would say that this story is a pretty traditional short story for the best part, but lapses into Lawrence's typical, fairly heavy, novelistic writing style in the last couple of pages. I think that that particular section actually is somewhat detrimental to what I consider a pretty good short story. However, what is important about this story is that Lawrence has succeeded in writing a short story that has a plot that is restricted but doesn't seem to be, and that has to be one of the most important things about the form. When you have a plot that works the rest will follow. ...read more.

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