Triumph Short stories are a way to escape everyday life without taking all day or week to read the story. They are mainly based on fictional characters and can vary in length. As defined by Dictionary of Literary Terms, a short story is “a relatively short narrative which is designed to produce a single dominant effect and which contains the element of drama. A short story concentrates on a single character in a single situation at a single moment” (343).
Like novels, short stories are made up of different plot points such as an exposition, raising action, climax, denouement, and resolution; although, not all short stories accommodate all of these plot points. When a plot point is left out of the story, it tends to leave the reader with unanswered questions about the short story; when this occurs, usually the reader critiques the writing based on the unanswered questions which arose. I have chosen two short stories to compare based on conflict, imagery, and final resolution: “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story’ by Russell Banks and “Revenge” by Ellen Gilchrest.
According to The Holt Handbook, a conflict is “The opposition between two or more characters, between a character and a natural force, or between contrasting indecencies or motives or ideas within one character” (Serener and Mandela 749). Conflicts make a short story interesting. Without conflict in the exposition of a short story, I would have nothing to fuel the tension and excitement a story creates in my mind, which keeps me reading.
A conflict isn’t always an argument, fistfight, or shootout, it can be an internal conflict. In “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story’ the conflict is man versus himself. Right away Russell Banks writes “l don’t mind describing it now, because I’m a decade older and don’t look the same now as I did hen, and Sarah Cole is dead” (76). This shows me the narrator, a man, has struggled telling this story, and only the passing time, along with Sarah Coles death is allowing him to get over the inner conflict he has with himself.
Further into the story, I can really see how this conflict could affect the short story. Banks’ narrator states his conflict “confuses me, embarrasses me and makes me sad, and consequently I’m likely to tell it falsely’ (81). The narrator’s inner conflict is so great, he would jeopardize what truly happened in the story. The struggle shown right away in the exposition, kept my attention and kept me reading to find out if he overcame his embarrassment and sadness.
In “Revenge,” the conflict doesn’t start until several paragraphs into the short story, but Ellen Gilchrest keeps the suspense throughout, after it’s introduced. Gilchrest’ narrator, a ten-year-old girl named Rhoda, watches as her brother Dudley and cousins build a broad Jump pit for pole-vaulting and training for the Olympics; although, she wants so badly to help them build the broad Jump pit and train along with them, they refuse to even let her in the pasture where it is being built (419).
So early on I’m hooked to the story and want to continue reading. As the suspense builds, to really intensify the conflict Gilchrest writes, “Rhoda, you’re not having anything to do with this broad Jump pit. And if you set foot inside this pasture or come around here and touch anything we will break your legs and drown you in the bayou with a crowbar around your neck’ (420). The narrator is now faced physical conflict as well as a verbal one between her brother and cousins. Suspense early on in the short story, definitely grabs old of a readers a want to find out if Rhoda ever ends up drowned in the bayou, or pole-vault road Jump pit. I was always fond of moving picture books. In my mind, it is how every be. Full of color and contrast, figuratively speaking of course, it should Cree perfect mental picture for a reader so they can truly see how the writer w story to be depicted. Using words to create a mental picture isn’t an easy t writers do so using imagery.
Dictionary of Literary Terms defines imagery – forming of mental images, figures, or likenesses of things; the use of langue represent actions, person, objects, and ideas descriptively’ (195). Imagery my imagination and allows me to draw a mental picture in my mind. If I ca picture what the author is trying to depict, then the story does not make a like very vivid imagery in a short story, if it is lacking in imagery, I will lose quickly and find a different short story.
Russell Banks depicts imagery in ” A Type of Love Story’ when describing his characters’ clothing: “He was we Ana blue blazer, taupe shirt open at the throat, white slacks, white loafers narrator is trying to show how he is attractive and well-dressed unlike Sara who is unattractive and described as “wearing heavy tan cowboy boots an brown suede cowboy hat, lumpy Jeans and a yellow T-shirt that clings to h areas and round belly like the skin of a sausage” (78).
While reading I could picture the expensive blue blazer, luxurious white slacks and fancy white he was headed to a yacht club on Sunday evening to enjoy a drink with to and important individuals. Sarah Cole, however, was dressed as if she was local run down bar. As he described her yellow tight t-shirt, I could picture as if it were painted to her skin, showing every indention she may have ha belly or bosom.
Through Banks’ imagery, I was able to picture how the chaw truly looked and how he wanted to show they lived completely different life Revenge”, however, had different imagery; it was more about surround items rather than the characters themselves. Still, the details in this short very vivid Just as in “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story’. Gilchrest talks bayou jump pit and how “It was a bright orange rectangle in the middle of a Greer It was three feet deep, filled with river sand and sawdust.
A real cinder Tara to it, ending where tall poles for pole-vaulting rose forever in the still Delta Now every time the narrator talks about the broad Jump pit, I have a clear in my mind and being the main topic of the story, I found it crucial to have ascription of it. Further into the story, Rhoda talks about sitting down wit on top of a levee and uses imagery to describe the moment of happiness s experiencing. She writes, “Over her shoulder and through the low branch trees the afternoon sun was going down in an orgy of reds and blues and and violets, falling from sight, going all the way to China.
Let them keep the broad Jump pit I thought” (424). This use of imagery not only showed me, beautiful sunset she was seeing but how tranquil she felt in this moment, point where she was giving up on ever getting in the broad Jump it. The Holt Handbook defines resolution as “the part of the story in which the problems are solved and the action comes to a satisfying end” (Serener and Mandela 749). At the end of a story, I feel I have taken the Journey along with the narrator and experienced what they have.
I like to know what happens to the characters in the final resolution, good or bad, it still provides me with closure to the story. When a short story Just ends without a final resolution, it leaves me with unanswered questions and feeling agitated, like the story was worthless to read, because it had no ending and leaves me guessing what happened to the characters. In “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story’, I wanted to know how she really died, and what became of their relationship.
In the last few sentences of the short story Banks writes, “Leave me now, you disgusting, ugly bitchy And then she is gone, and he is alone again. Its not as if she has died; it’s as if he has killed her” (91). Even though this is the ending of the story, I find out earlier on, how they both continued their lives. He ended up married and she had moved away to Florida with an ex-husband (89). In the final resolution, I find out Sarah Cole really isn’t dead. She only becomes dead to him figuratively speaking, after he shuns her away.
This resolution answered all questions I had about her death and what ultimately happened in their relationship. As “Revenge” came to an end, it left me questioning the outcome of the main character and what repercussions she may have encountered from pole-vaulting in the broad Jump it; nor did it give any information about the other characters extensive training. Gilchrest writes “l let go of the pole and began my fall, which mimed to last a long time, long time I dropped into the sawdust and lay very still, waiting for them to reach me.
Sometimes I think whatever happened since has been of no real interest to me” (428). This does not give any explanation of what becomes of Rhoda and excludes any other characters outcome. After reading this short story, I was left with many unanswered questions. What happened to Rhoda after pole-vaulting in the broad Jump pit? Did her brother and cousins get to compete in the next Olympics? Or did she get to compete? The resolution ended a very interesting story abruptly. The final resolution for “Revenge” did not fit my preference.
After applying all criteria to both short stories and pondering over each criterion, “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story’ triumphed over “Revenge”. Both stories presented me with a conflict in the exposition; although, “Revenge” was slow to present a conflict, it still met the criterion. The imagery in both stories displayed very vivid mental pictures in my mind and both met this criterion as well. The ending in “Revenge” disappointed me. It abruptly ended, and left me with unanswered questions about the characters.