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In the story "Vendetta", Guy de Maupassant evoked a sense of place by describing the setting of the story in the beginning of the text. He describes the house of the widow Saverni,

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Introduction

1. How does the writer evoke a sense of place in the story? In the story "Vendetta", Guy de Maupassant evoked a sense of place by describing the setting of the story in the beginning of the text. He describes the house of the widow Saverni, and where it was situated. "A small mean house... Built on a spur of the mountain and in places actually overhanging the sea". The setting basically took place in Corsica. De Maupassant described the place as having humanlike characteristics in order to reflect the isolation, the dreariness and the dreadfulness of the place. "Clinging to the rock, gazing down upon those deadly straits where scarcely a ship ventures, they look like the nests of birds of prey...For ever harassed by a restless wind, which sweeps along the narrow funnel, ravaging the banks on either side...trails of white foam streaming from them like torn shreds of linen." The choice of words are sinister and menacing to set a dark dreary mood to the story, and preempt the unpleasant things that will happen in the story. Unlike in the Vendetta where we picture the story's setting through the author's use of vivid descriptions, in the School Teacher's Guest how the story is set is revealed in the plot. "The very evening on which Riad Halabi had driven into Agua Santa from one side of town, from the other a group of boys had carried in the body of the schoolteacher's son." ...read more.

Middle

In those days, it was usually a male relation who carried out the vendetta-a blood feud wherein if one man is wronged by another, public sentiment requires that he redress his own grievance, and that his family and friends shall share the consequences. For the mother, being a woman, to have done so, even though there was "no one to help her, and she herself so feeble and near her end" (51-52), shows the depth of her love for her son and the injustice and anguish that she must have felt when he was murdered. The mother is also someone who keeps to her promises. On the death of her son, she promises to seek vengeance for him. "Never fear, never fear, you shall be avenged, my poor son, my little son, my poor child. You may sleep in peace. You shall be avenged, I tell you. You have your mother's word, and you know she never breaks it." "She had promised; she had sworn by the dead body of her son; she could not forget, and she dared not delay..." The mother had sworn to fulfill the promise made to her son; hence, she murders Ravolati in a bid to avenge her son's life. Ironic is the fact that even though the widow is someone with strong fath and belief in God, she still commits as grave a sin as murder. She even asked for God's help to avenge her son, and seemed to have felt that God supported her cause. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, barring that fact, the question still remains. Was it really justice when the mothers killed their son's murderer? In "The Schoolteacher's Guest", it was definitely not justice. "The owner... fired a blast from his rifle meaning to scare the boy away but drilling a black hole in the middle of his forehead through which his life rapidly escaped." The schoolteacher's son died as a result of an accident, while the man died in cold blood. It was "an eye for an eye" in the sense that two lives were exchanged or were extinguished as a result, but still, it wasn't justice because the son died through an accident while the man died through cold-blooded slaughter. A feud would have been the most likely outcome of these two stories; hence, the need for law and not vigilante justice. In the "Vendetta", let's say Ravolati's kin finds out what killed their slain brethren, they would have taken the knife and killed the widow. Also in "The Schoolteacher's Guest", even though the man murdered by the teacher was a stranger to their community, even if he was "an outsider who no one really knew", he might still have family and friends to trace him and put two and two together, as to his disappearance. The vigilantes would have faced a reckoning of some sort, and it would become a chain reaction as the wronged would fight each other, until even those who are innocent are also harmed. And so, this world wherein vigilante justice exists is not ideal, and the law is still needed to make sense of everything around us. ...read more.

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