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"The Perfect Murder" by Renate Yates and "The Foal" by Mikhail Sholokhov - attempting to have the reader confront their own values & attitudes

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English Literature Essay - Prose Fiction Jessica Wilkey Writers of a short story not only place their own attitudes and values into a story, but also will often attempt to have the reader confront their own values and attitudes towards a specific subject. They do this through techniques such as language, setting, characterisation and point of view. These techniques position the reader to feel or think a certain way. Two such stories are The Perfect Murder written by Renate Yates and The Foal by Mikhail Sholokhov. The Perfect Murder is the story of a cat leaving her kittens to go out and kill a bird. However, the story has been written so that the reader is positioned to believe it is a woman leaving her children to go and kill a small child. The fact that it is actually a cat is not revealed until the end. This positions the reader to confront their morals and attitudes and accept the author's attitude that murder is acceptable in some circumstances. In this story, value is placed upon family and survival. The Foal is a story about a foal born during the war. ...read more.


This positions the reader to be shocked into confronting their attitudes towards murder and rejecting the main character's attitude towards it so that when the attitudes change at the end of the text, the reader is positioned to accept the author's view that murder can be acceptable. Similarly, the setting in The Foal contrasts the values and attitudes presented in the text. This makes them stand out, thus positioning the reader to accept these values and attitudes. For example, the opening paragraph gives an extreme contrast between the values and attitudes and the setting. The story opens with a foal being born 'in broad daylight' however the light aspect and mood of the story quickly changes when 'terror (is) the first feeling he experience(s) on this earth' caused by an explosion nearby. This sudden change in the story positions the reader to sympathise with The Foal and accept Sholokhov's attitudes and values towards war, murder, life and living. Characterisation is another technique used by the authors of prose fiction. The main character in The Perfect Murder is developed as a caring and loving mother. ...read more.


The point of view used in The Foal is that of third person objective. This does not allow the reader into the mind or thoughts of any character, but simply gives an objective view of the story. In The Foal, this has been done so that the characters are presented as no longer having feelings because of the war. The characters' actions also stand out because of this point of view. The reader is invited to interpret the actions of the characters, however they are positioned by the author to interpret the characters as having feelings that have simply been forgotten and are no longer allowed by the characters to be felt. This positions the reader to sympathise with the characters presented, especially the character of Trofim, thus positioning them to accept the author's values, attitudes and morals. In conclusion, authors of prose fiction not only inject their own values, attitudes and morals into a story but will often attempt, through the use of various techniques, to position the reader to feel a certain way towards a subject. The authors of The Perfect Murder and The Foal have done so through the use of techniques such as language, setting, characterisation and point of view, among many others. ...read more.

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