English Essay-Short Stories

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“The success of any story depends on the way it is told”

Storytellers use short stories to portray people, places and ideas in order to entertain and engage the audience’s interest. The success of any story depends upon the way is it told as to achieve its purpose the author intended. Composers of texts use a variety of narrative techniques to convey the themes, characters, setting and plot of the story to the responder and thus fulfill its purpose. I will be illustrating this through the analysis of the Henry Lawson stories including “The Drover’s Wife” and “The Loaded Dog” and through other related texts “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury and “Charles” by Shirley Jackson. These stories present a variety of techniques in order to achieve their purpose and help make the story successful.

Henry Lawson’s “The Drover’s Wife” is a successful story in illustrating the hardships faced by a woman and her children living in the harsh and desolate Australian bush of the 1800s. Lawson uses a variety of techniques and language features as to achieve his purpose of informing and entertaining the audience. The orientation of the story is brief yet effective in setting the scene and placing the characters. Lawson uses detailed imagery and descriptive language to convey the isolated and hostile environment. The harsh landscape expressed in the repetition of ‘no’ and negative connotations in “Bush all round - bush with no horizon…no ranges in the distance, the bush consists of stunted, rotten native apples trees. No undergrowth” and the isolation in the statement “Nineteen miles to the nearest sign of civilization”. These opening paragraphs of the story are successful in immediately engaging the reader’s attention as they develop a clear picture and understanding of the harsh and isolated environment in which the story is set.

Another successful aspect of the story is the development and expression of the characters, such as the drover’s wife to the reader. Lawson uses the story of the women’s struggle to kill a snake as a framework in which to convey her life through a series of flashbacks. With each flashback the reader develops an idea of the many physical and mental hardships she has faced and thus draws an emotional response from the reader. Lawson uses emotive diction and narration on the women’s life in “heart nearly broke in two”, “She is used to the loneliness of it” and the metaphor “worn- out breast”. These comments help evoke our awe and sympathy for her and develop a relationship with reader of her character. In addition another narrative technique used to make this story successful is the use of dialogue. Lawson uses dialogue in revealing certain aspects of the characters to the reader. The dialogue also serves a further purpose of authenticity as Lawson uses colloquial language shown particularly in the drover’s wife’s son, Tommy for example “D’yer” and “If yer wer bit”. This shows the reader the language used by the people of the world represented and adds to the success of the story.

In addition within the story Lawson uses action and suspense to increase the pace of the plot and so as to engage the reader. At the climax of the story, Lawson uses a dramatic description and builds tension with a variety of techniques to capture the Drover’s wife struggle with the snake. Lawson uses descriptive diction and narration in expressing the increased action of the story “Thud, thud- the snake’s back is broken in several places. Thud thud- its head is crushed… “. Lawson also incorporates many action verbs including “springs, lifts, pulls, rises, shakes” and onomatopoeia “snaps and thud” to bring the story to life and give a realistic description to the reader. His dramatic description and short sharp sentences, combined with action verbs, sounds and detailed diction brings the climax of the story alive and engages the reader’s attention and hence is another reason why this story achieves its purpose and is...
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