The Sweet Hereafter Literary Analysis

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Authors of the 20th century, such as Russell Banks and Tim O’Brien, have taken the traditional elements of fiction and created an updated version. The wave of modernism has affected many elements such as point of view, characterization, and the passage of time. Setting and themes have also been affected by these new writings. Traditionally, the point of view of the story was based on a single narrator, such as in Poe’s stories. However, with the help of modernism point of view has grown to become much more diverse. In The Sweet Hereafter, by Russell Banks, there are actually four different points of view all separated by a new chapter. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, employs this method too. O’Brien uses a third person omniscient …show more content…

“A Rose for Emily”, by William Faulkner, is a perfect example of this confusing style. Emily’s story begins at the end of her life and, from then on, jumps around from midway through her life to when she was younger, and so on. This technique makes the potentially simple story interesting. However, Faulkner’s example of breaking chronology is an extreme example; it can also be witnessed in many other stories. In The Things They Carried, O’Brien intermingles stories from the war, as well as before and after, in no particular order. Rather than describing life before the war and going from there, O’Brien keeps the story exciting by using flashbacks and flash-forwards all throughout the book. Also, “The Swimmer,” by John Cheever, has an interesting use of time. At the beginning of the short story, “it was one of those midsummer Sundays” (Cheever 1) when Neddy Merrill decides to swim across all of the pools in the route to his house. Time becomes confusing because, although his journey home should have occurred during an afternoon, when he nears his home “he smelled… some stubborn autumnal fragrance” (Cheever 8) and the water he goes in is icy cold (Cheever 9). The changing of seasons in one afternoon challenges the use of a normal time frame. It is important to note that, while the aforementioned elements of fiction have been altered, there are some that have been virtually eliminated from some fictitious works. In the short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Earnest Hemingway, setting is mostly limited to one paragraph at the beginning of the story. The setting is not crucial to the story so it is restricted to a brief description. Also in “Hills Like White Elephants,” there is no theme. Although generally viewed as important, Hemingway saw no reason to incorporate a theme into his short

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