Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story
Sean M. Czuchaj
The themes of a story are the ideas that are behind the story. The theme of the story makes the underlying ideas of the story come to life (Clugston, R. W. 2010). The theme of the story embodies the main idea that the reader should get from reading a story.
There are many literary elements that add to the theme of a story but I think the most important literary elements are the point of view and symbolism. Symbolism can mean one thing while also standing for something else (Clugston, R. W. 2010). Symbolism in a story is significant so that the person who reads the story acquires the implication of the writing beyond what is written in ink. Symbolism takes the story on an altered avenue when you become acquainted with the symbols in the story. A good example is in Jean Rhys “Used to Live Here Once” the story discusses “a blue day” which for a great number of readers could mean a pleasant day with clear skies however; when you look deeper into the implication a “blue day” you begin to understand that it means peacefulness. The story references a river as well; a river can in some instances symbolize the flow of human experiences (Clugston, R. W. (2010). There are some other familiar representations such as a mist or fog which could offer ambiguity to the story. A lion known to be a big cat in Africa would also insinuate power or pride in a person. For example The Young man has character of a lion. It is imperative to be able to distinguish the symbolism in a story so that you may cultivate a better perception of exactly what the writer is depicting in the story. Point of view in the story is important as well as it makes the reader feel closer to the character.
The point of view indicates to the reader who tells the story (Clugston, R. W. 2010). Point of view is the story communicated through the eyes of the narrator. The narrator could be someone observing an event from outside the action or an individual that is part of the story. Point of view from the narrator’s angle is to amuse the reader. It is essential to be familiar with ways that you can detect the points of view that a story can be read from. The first is type is first person-point of view; the second is third person point of view which has two capacities well-informed and impartial. First person point of view is when the narrator is a contributor of the story; here they usually refer to his or her own dealings and opinions. First person point of view is limited to what the narrator knows for example events that they have participated in. First person can also be told from a minor characters point of view.
“Objective or Dramatic - the opposite of the well-informed; displays authorial objectivity; compared a roving sound camera. Very little of the past or the future is given; the story is set in the present” (Shapiro and Beum 1978). Third person point of view is when the narrator is not a part of the story. In third person omniscient point of view, the story is told from the author 's point of view. The author feels free to describe the story from the vantage point of any character in the story. The author might get inside the heads of any of the characters. The author might tell the reader of events and motivations unknown to the characters. The author also might directly address the reader (Taormina, 2012). An external narrator can also take a detached approach to the characters actions to create a more dramatic affect (Clugston, R. W. 2010).
Symbolism influences the storyline of the story because it helps to interpret the meaning of the story. The symbols in the story contribute to the existence to what the author is saying. So symbolism affects the storyline by placing prominence on the underlying theme. Symbolism can bring a story to life. First person affects the narrative of the story for the reason that it is told in sequential order and third person is usually told as a recollection. When the story is told in first person the narrative is influenced by the thoughts of the character themselves so you are able to get their viewpoint of what has transpired. When a story is told in third person the storyline is affected by the viewpoint of an outside party.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. https://content.ashford.edu/books
A Prosody Handbook; Miller Williams, Patterns of Poetry; and Lawrence Zillman, The Art and Craft of Poetry 1978, Shapiro and Beum.
Taormina, A. (2012, JANUARY 18). Novel: Point of view. Retrieved from http://www.nvcc.edu/home/ataormina/novels/structure/pov.htm
References: Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. https://content.ashford.edu/books A Prosody Handbook; Miller Williams, Patterns of Poetry; and Lawrence Zillman, The Art and Craft of Poetry 1978, Shapiro and Beum. Taormina, A. (2012, JANUARY 18). Novel: Point of view. Retrieved from http://www.nvcc.edu/home/ataormina/novels/structure/pov.htm