Short stories require different styles and features, than regular novels. Single characters, shortened plots, and a conflict with resolution, are some of the key features that make a successful short story. With having a single character, it lets the writer develop their background, which gives the reader much needed description to create an understanding, or relationship with the character. The shortened plot, with a build up to the conflict and resolution, grips the reader, and makes them feel the suspense of the author’s story.
In “Royal Beatings” by Alice Munro, Rose is the main character of the short story. She is a believable character that Munro describes in what clearly was hard time and place to grow up. Not only living in a poor area of town, Rose had a strained relationship with her stepmother, as Munro describes “she could not stand to know any more, about her father, or about Flo”. The character Munro has created makes the reader feel compassion and sympathy for her. She is a child, acting the way children do, with a stepmother who has been thrown into a mother’s role. The story is a successful one because Munro gets it right with the emphasis on Rose as the main character, and touching briefly on her sibling’s background, as well as Flo, Becky, and her father.
From the offset of the story, there is the threat of a “Royal beating. That was Flo’s promise. You’re going to get one Royal Beating.” The story actually introduces the conflict immediately, and from there the suspense slowly builds throughout. The conflict is extremely detailed and gripping. Munro is able to make the reader picture, or imagine, what is exactly happening in the kitchen. What makes the conflict more interesting is the fact the Flo, who initiated for the father to do the beating, wanted to stop it, “Flo is shrieking too. Stop, stop!” The end of the story makes the reader feel sorry or compassion for Flo, as it is now her that relied on Rose, before being put into a...
Cited: Cassill, R. V., and Richard Bausch. "Royal Beatings by Alice Munro." The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. 1125-1141. Print.
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