Short Story Characteristics

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The short story is a concise form of narrative prose that is usually simpler and more direct compared to longer works of fiction such as novels. Therefore, because of their short length, short stories rely on many forms of literary devices to convey the idea of a uniform theme seen throughout the script. This theme is illustrated by using characteristics that are developed throughout the story such as, plot, setting and characters. The three main components are developed throughout the story in order to guide the reader to the underlying theme, which is necessary as a short story lacking a theme also lacks meaning or purpose.

The short story "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin uses characterization to identify the realization that tragedy and suffering can be transformed by a communal art, in this case, jazz music. The narrator in this story is Sonny's brother, an unnamed high school algebra teacher that has worked hard to attain the trappings of middle class success. Through the eyes of this down to earth, caring husband and father the reader witnesses the life of Sonny. In his youth Sonny was his father's son however, he strayed from his family into a stereotypical, perverse heroin addiction. Sonny's lifestyle change causes conflict between the two brothers, which is not resolved until Sonny is released from prison for pushing heroin. Through the expression of musical talent, the narrator and his brother become closer in their relationship and are able to resolve the differences in character that have caused such anguish in their lives.

By using a combination of components such a characters and setting, a strong theme can be reached, for example in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper". The combination of the protagonist's insanity and the setting of the nursery with yellow wallpaper identify a theme of imprisonment of females in a domestic world. The anonymous wife is taken by her husband to a country mansion to recover from a state...
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