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A Possibility of Evil and a Bolt of White Cloth comparative essay

By DBIZZIE Nov 24, 2013 791 Words


Every person is an individual in his or her own way and form. Be it their way of thinking or the decisions they make, no one person is the same. The characters in the story’s The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson and The bolt of white cloth By Leon Rooke are all influenced by the society, environment and people they are surrounded with. They must take into consideration the feelings of others to be given the result they truly deserve.

The pull of approval from society is something that every person is motivated to achieve. Most people conduct themselves in a way that they think will be considered morally acceptable, in the story The Possibility of Evil however, miss Strangeworth thinks that her own opinions and feelings are the only ones important, and that nobody else’s are relevant. She believed that “People everywhere [in her town] were lustful and evil and degraded, and needed to be watched”(Jackson, 5). Her closed- minded way of thinking leads to members of her community being hurt and thus, her roses that she cares so much about are destroyed as revenge for her poorly thought through actions. If miss Strangeworth had kept her opinions and thoughts about others to herself, than she could have been content with her garden and its beautiful roses. The couple in Rookes story is portrayed as open minded and welcoming to everyone. When the man with “eyes… dark and brooding and hollowed out some.”(Rooke, 143) presents himself to the couple, they go against what most people in society would do and welcome the man to tell them about his cloth. The man does not only reward them with a beautiful piece of cloth for their kind actions, but also with their happiness. Without their open-minded perception of the man and his intentions, they would have been left with nothing.

In both of the short story’s, the characters are influenced greatly by they environment they surround themselves with and the perception that they have of this environment influences they’re method of thinking. The town that miss Strangewell lives in is perceived by the reader as welcoming, well kept and friendly. Miss Strangeworth however thinks that she needs to give everyone her opinion secretly through her anonymous letters in an attempt to cleanse her town. She says that “Even in a charming town like this one, there is still so much evil”(Jackson, 7). Her harmful words lead to Her roses, her favorite part of her environment being destroyed and also with her own sense of guilt. The couple in the story A Bolt of White Cloth is the complete opposite of Miss Strangeworth. They value everything that the live on and put care and love into everything they grow, build or create. They live in a similar town to miss Strangeworth but are grateful for the things that she hates. The wife says that she has “’loved lots of things in life. Lots and lots… practically everything!’”(Rooke, 199) her love of what she has, has left her so open minded to new things that she is rewarded for this, with something that she is ever grateful for.

When taking part in a conversation both members must remain sensible to the others feelings and also take into consideration what emotions their words may trigger. In Jacksons story miss Strangewell says things to her neighbors such as “Didn’t you ever see an idiot child before? Some people just shouldn’t have children” (Jackson, 4) in anonymous letters because she believes that nobody will discover her and seek revenge. When her secret is discovered karma is delivered by the destruction of her beloved roses. Her insensitivity and spiteful words towards others is why her most prized possession is ruined. In Rooke’s story, the couple makes it clear that the welcome all different types of people and are open to meeting many new people. They say that they “Like strangers just fine… strangers can sit in their kitchen just the same as their friends” (Rooke, 202). They are very trusting and have good faith in humanity. Their love and trust pays off in the end when they discover that the cloth the wife desires can be bought with love, and that she has enough love to spare. Their openhearted perception of people gives back in the end.

The short story’s The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson and The Bolt of White Cloth by Leon Rooke both show us how the characters are influenced by their perception of their surrounding society, environment and people. The characters discover that showing respect to the people and places around you can result in happiness and content, even if it is discovered the hard way.

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