Short Stories: Elements

By: Surya Ramakrishnan

Characterization

Mary is described as a “stay at home” wife and she is described through direct and indirect characterization. Indirect characterization is when events happen for the reader to infer the characteristics of the person. You can tell what kind of person Mary is when she is “enjoying his company after the long hours alone in the house.” This obviously states that she is a stay at home wife and loving spouse.

Setting

The Scarlet Ibis is in Southeast. The year isn’t stated nor the place. In the book the author gives little clues to where the story is placed and was near “the great pine behind the barn, where across the fields and swamps you could see the sea.” Through this information we could see that there was swamps and forest much like the southeast Louisiana and North Carolina.

Conflict

In the “Scarlet Ibis” the main conflict is Doodle's disability, he can't walk, “trembling, he'd push himself up, turning first red, then a soft purple, and finally collapse back onto the bed like an old worn-out doll.” This shows how he is trying to overcome that fear and is trying to walk.

Plot

The plot in “Desiree’s Baby” is a good example of the action pyramid. The story starts off with an introduction to Desiree; an orphan adopted by a rich, white family, the Valmonde’s. As she grows up, her beauty pierces Armand Aubigny and they fall in love. Soon after marriage, they have a baby. Three months after their baby was born, Armand notices that their baby is black, and assumes that his wife, Desiree, must also be black. In rage, he sends her back to her maternal home and burns all her belongings in a fire. While emptying her possessions, he finds a letter from his mother to his father. In that, he finds out his mother was black.

Theme

The theme in “Desiree’s Baby” was surrounded around the racism in the South. While racism was very common, it wasn’t expected for Armand to oust Desiree from the house just because she may have black lineage. Being an adopted child, there was no way to cross check this information.

Tone/Mood

The mood is dangerous, unexpected, and almost scary. In such a futuristic setting of “THE YEAR...2081” they had laws to make everyone equal and those that were smarter has an earpiece that if they try removing the fine would be “two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out”. It also proves to be dangerous when “she fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor”.

Point Of View

In “Harrison Bergeron”, the author uses objective third person to narrate this story. In a sense, this is a good thing because it holds up a suspense filled atmosphere where we don’t know what the characters are thinking. Maybe if we knew what was going on in their minds, we would not be able to appreciate the craziness occurring in the story as much as we do when we’re curious about what was going on in their heads.

Irony

Irony is very present in lambs to slaughter. The irony in this story adds to the effect of revenge and sabotage. “At that point, Mary ... simply walked up behind [her husband] and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head.” The audience knows that Mary deeply loves her husband and shock is shattered across the audience’s eyes. Mary was characterized as a nurturing spouse who would never expected to kill. This is situational irony because the character did the opposite of what was expected. Another form of irony is verbal irony. Mary says this by telling the people, “It would be a favor to me if you’d eat it up.” Mary is saying it is a favor for her but she means that she wants them to get rid of the evidence, which by eating the lamb.

Foreshadowing

While there were obvious moments of foreshadow in the character’s mind itself, I believe the introduction was a foreshadow also. The whole story seems to be a memory because Madame Valmonde is driving to L’Abri, the Aubigny’s plantation, to see Desiree and her baby. I think this foreshadows the fact that she does end up moving back with her husband after he realizes his mistake.

Simile

In “Harrison Bergeron”, George Bergeron uses similes to describe the sounds in his head, how graceful the dancers were, and everything happening around him. He compared the sounds to earthquakes, gunshots, and a burglar alarm. He compared the dancers to deers on the moon. He compared every small situation to something more relatable.

Symbolism

In “A Cask of Amontillado” the crest of montresor's family symbolizes the pain he inflicts on fortunato. The shield features a human foot crushing a tenacious serpent. This symbolizes the exact plot of the story as montresor crushes fortunato easily. “The foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel”, a symbol of death.