Loss In A Short Story

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Loss as a Literary Device

In the short stories Gwilan’s Harp by Ursula K. LeGuin, The Washwoman by Isaac Singer, and The Last Leaf by O. Henry, the theme of loss plays a central part in the lives of the main characters. Each of the stories deals with one or more different forms of loss. Although some instances may be more serious than others, they are all equally important. These forms of loss include property loss, the loss of status, and death. Loss, although it can make for a sad story, often causes readers to immerse in the story, because the characters seem more life-like. This happens in all three short stories due to the authors’ skillful inclusion of loss as one of the main themes.

Gwilan’s Harp contains many instances of loss. First of all, and most important to the story, Gwilan’s harp is destroyed when the cart that she is riding in crashes. This form of loss is one of the less serious; especially when you compare it to a loss of life. This does not mean it is without importance, because many times in life the things which cause us grief prove to be relatively small. “He went from a cough to a high fever to quietness, and died while Gwilan sat beside him.”(LeGuin) Death, another form of
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The best examples, although not always biblical, often point to Christ’s sacrifice, loss, and eventually his sanctification of sinners. This form came out clearest in The Last Leaf with Behrman’s example of sacrifice. The washwoman also becomes a Christ-figure because of her work ethic, which often leads to her loss and other people’s gain. Even Gwilan’s Harp shows similarities to Christ’s sacrifice when Gwilan chooses not to resent or shun Torm for his part in the accident that destroyed her harp. Overall, these three short stories showcase several forms of loss and how to best use them in
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