Four Short Stories

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American short stories
Joyce Carol Oates: "Capital punishment" (1992)
1. Analyse the father and the daughter relationship in this story in terms of their feelings for one another. How do these feelings illustrate their differences or similarities? The relationship between the father and the daughter is quite tense even though they love each other. We can see proof from the text on page 267 "She thinks of Mr. Brunty, whom she loves, as a "big lug." A "big dumb lug." A "big dumb ox."" There is another example on page 270-271, when her father comes to get her at the detention facility, "Daddy, thank God you´re here, oh, Daddy, I´m so sorry, I´m so scared, I´m so scared...". Here we see how attached she is to him. He, on the other hand, has difficulties to show his emotions. He was very worried that something bad had happened to her, but at the same time looked at her from a distance. "... What strikes him is how tall she´s grown, how solid and ample and heated her flesh. He embraces her, deeply moved, embarrassed, not really knowing what to do. He looks over her head at the juvenile officers as if hoping for support or solace." We can clearly see that both of them love each other, but it feels like they don´t talk so much with each other or that their relation is a bit tense. Her father doesn´t really know how to handle the situation. It´s like they love each other without saying or showing what they feel and then when they are in situations they show their love and then they act strange. Aswell two sentences down "He calls her sweetheart, comforts her, tells her not to cry, she´s coming home now. It´s all over now, he says. Or whatever he says: it´s as if another man, another father, were standing in his place, clumsy and flush-faced in his suit and tie, saying words not his but appropriate to the occasion." I think that Mr.Brunty has a difficult relationship to women since his heart was broken by Hope's mother (see page 263 "His heart had been broken, he said, but it could only be broken once. The women he knew now could take them or leave them and he hoped they understood that. "I hope they feel the same way about me," he said." Perhaps this also made it difficult for him to understand his own daughter. The episode at the restaurant after picking him her up from the detention facility also shows his love (page 275: "Big sad homely girl, his girl. Mr. Brunty feels a pang of helpless love for her, and dislike.") When she grows up they don't meet often and have strained telephone talks (page 282: Mr. Brunty, she has heard, is proud of her, in her absence. Mr. Brunty, she has heard, does love her - though he never writes...). As an adult when Hope thinks of her father's coming death she has difficult feelings for her father (page 281: "She loves Mr. Brunty yet cannot get along with him, just as he loves her (she believes) and cannot get along with her".) 2. The article "How Fiction Works" discusses different kinds of narrators. What kind of narrator and point of view do we have in this story? How does the point of view influence our sympathies? We have an omniscient narrator, we know both the father and the daughter. But more narration from Hope´s perspective. This influences us to sympathize with both of them. Personally I sympathize more with Hope because I feel that you get to know her more and the story is more from her perspective. The distance to her father is also demonstrated when she always think of him as "Mr. Brunty", not father. Alice Munro: "Boys and Girls" (1968)

1.What kind of narrator do we have in this story?
There is a participant narrator in the story, the story are told in I-form. 2. This story brings up the theme of gender, the question of individual identity versus traditional male/female role patterns. Give examples from the text that help to build up this theme in the story and briefly comment on your choices. There is a difference between her father and mother regarding how they speak to her,...
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