Theme and Narrative Elements of the Short Story

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Theme and Narrative Elements of the Short Story:
I Used to Live Here Once
Lori Howard
Eng 125: Introduction to Literature
Professor Rozlyn Truss-Linder
September 3, 2010

To tell a story takes many elements, one of the most important elements to your story is the theme. “The theme in a story is associated with an idea that lies behind the story.” (Clugston, 2010) It is the idea that gives meaning to the story. You look beyond the plot asking how other elements, such as, character, tone, symbolism, and, point of view to name a few, contribute to the development of the theme and story. A great story brings to life the theme through its characters and actions. To understand what the theme in the short story “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys is, we are going to look at how point of view and symbolism are used to contribute to the development the theme, and how these elements affect the overall theme to the story.

The main theme speaks of the main character’s struggle to identify with her past life, suggesting she is no longer living, but you do not realize that until the end, when the character announces, “That was the first time she knew”. The journey she takes is mostly familiar, with some changes, letting you know she has not been that way in awhile. Ms. Rhys uses constant use of symbolism helps the reader understand the theme and come the conclusion by the final statement.

The point of view is important to the development of the theme. It tells you who is telling the story. You would think that the title suggests it is written in the first-person, however as you read the story, you realize that it is actually written in the third-person point of view. The speaker is not part of the story, and it is limited omniscient, that is “when the thoughts and feelings of only one of the characters are related through the narrator.” (Clugston, 2010) Beginning with the first line of the story, “She was standing by the river looking at...
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