short stories essay

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Consider how narrative elements such as language, setting, point of view, characterisation and structure contribute to the way we regard issues such as race or gender in the short stories you have studied.

The art of narrative fiction lies only superficially on the basis of content - Rather, the use of narrative elements greatly contribute to the way we interpret issues such as race and gender. Boys to Wanton Flies by Michael Wilding uses a range of figurative language to challenge the dominant idea of males being tough and unafraid. This is further exemplified by the strong characterisation of the protagonist, Lionel and his contrast with the antagonist. In addition, the intertexuality used by Sheila Morehead in At Seventeen, allow the reader to produce an alternative reading and therefore question the dominant gender roles and expectations of society. Furthermore, The Test by Angelica Gibbs and A Way of Talking, by Patricia Grace, are able to achieve opposing messages concerning racial discrimination through the use of third person and first person narration respectively. The use of narrative elements such as language, characterisation and point of view enable a story to not only entertain, but effect the way we regard issues such as gender or race.

The use of figurative language and specific dialogue is essential to the construction of a short story and its ability to present issues such as race and gender in a particular way. The resistant story of, As Boys to Wanton Flies uses a range of metaphors to create the antagonistic and animalistic image of Erica. She is described as, "a butterfly that at night turned back into its grovelling caterpillar ... [and] a moth that at night became a vampire." Therefore the reader feels sympathetic towards Lionel, who is pressured by her to meet certain gender expectations - not to be afraid and scared of animals. Through the use of figurative language, Wilding is able to create a negative image of Erica and therefore challenge society's traditional views of masculinity. Furthermore, specific dialogues enable the reader to develop understandings of the characters and hence the messages they portray. For example, in A Way of Talking, Jane insults the Maoris in an unintentional and casual way - "That's Alan; he's been down the road getting the Maoris for scrub cutting." This emphasises the fact that racism is just, 'a way of talking,' for the 'white' people. Evidently, short stories are able to challenge or support the dominant ideas about race and gender not simply through content but by using figurative language and specific dialogues.
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The success of a narrative relies heavily on the point of view from which it is delivered. The third person narration used in The Test helps the reader identify with the protagonist, Marian and therefore we see the story progress from her perspective. This allows the development of a more personal and engaging relationship between the reader and Marian. Therefore, when the inspector laughs at her for, "[getting her] college degree," and being, "born in Scranton, Pennsylvania," we view his racist actions as antagonistic, insulting and rude. However, it is the way in which the point of view ...

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