Short stories. I have chosen to discuss Can-can by Arturo Vivante and The Blue Film by Graham Greene.

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Emma Hall                                                                                           Access to HE English                                                                                      Glen McIver                                                                                               12/02/2012

Discuss and compare any two of the short stories we have discussed

I have chosen to discuss ‘Can-can’ by Arturo Vivante and ‘The Blue Film’ by Graham Greene. I made this decision as I liked how both stories where about a married couple’s relationship which also involved another woman and yet whilst both stories appeared to end differently the overall meanings were in fact the same. When comparing both stories they showed multiple similarities as well as differences and I was interested in how both Vivante and Greene made use of irony, imagery and language to create an atmosphere and how both stories built up tension before reaching a climax.

Arturo Vivante’s short story ‘Can-Can’ is about a husband who is having an affair with a woman called Sarah, who is also married. The story starts at the husband’s marital home, where his wife is playing with the children and does the can-can when one of them asks her to. It is at this point that the husband starts to question himself over his affair but still leaves and heads to a café, where he waits for Sarah. Sarah is running late and he hopes that she won’t turn up but she does and they head off to a lake house where the story ends with Sarah lying in his arms, however he is thinking of his wife doing the can-can. Whilst we initially do not know the story is about a husband having an affair, the first line in the story immediately arouses suspicion and raises the question that the husband might be up to something. ‘‘I’m going to go for a drive, he said to his wife. I’ll be back in an hour or two” (Vivante 1988:5). The husband doesn’t say where he is going or what he is doing or how long exactly he will be and the following line tells us that the husband disappearing for a few hours is actually quite unusual. “He didn’t often leave the house for more than the few minutes it took him to go to the post office or to a store, but spent his time hanging around, doing odd jobs” (Vivante 1988:5).  Vivante portrays the husband as being an ordinary, working class man who feels he is living a mundane life with his wife. However, his wife is described as being loving and playful, she laughs and dances and doesn’t question where he might be off to. The husbands mistress Sarah is the only character who Vivante gives a name to in the story, Sarah is described as being a middle-class woman who is in control of the affair and very formal with a good job and a car. “Phoning Sarah at her office…her asking him to call again next week, finally setting a date” (Vivante 1988:6).

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Vivante’s use of language in the story is very simple but he cleverly uses some French words to make things seem a bit more exotic and spicy, such as, ‘rendezvous’, ‘café’ and the ‘can-can’ itself. The imagery Vivante creates with the wife doing the can-can is a picture you take away with you and one that the husband clearly does. The husband doesn’t think his wife knows about his affair but we question that she might when she does this dance. “Her eyes had mockery in them, and she laughed” (Vivante 1988:6). Is the wife showing her husband what ...

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