Meaning in Short Stories

4 April 2015
A discussion of several short stories to demonstrate how the authors developed meaning through the development of character, theme, plot and setting.

Five short stories are discussed: “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, “A&P” by John Updike, “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen, “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner, and “The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence. Each story is used to demonstrate the use of either character, theme, plot or setting in the development of meaning.

“The plot in this story revolves around the death of the husband, which of course makes the story possible, but at the heart of it is the woman and her feeling of freedom that she feels when she finds out her husband is dead. She feels free, and even in this very short story, Chopin makes us understand why with a few simple lines, “And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not.” That is really the plot briefly — the woman wanted more. We learn the two character’s names in the story, but they, and the other minor characters do not matter, this is truly a short story with one theme, freedom, and is totally plot driven.”

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