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Ashford 125

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Final Paper
Ashford University
Introduction to Literature
ENG 125

The difference between a poem and a short story starts with the structure but ends in the same way- their meanings and themes to tell the readers aim one thing, to entertain. For poems, the readers gets drawn to it through the different and interesting rhythms used in writing and reading them while for short stories, the characters, the settings and the plot of the story is what makes it interesting for readers. According to literature experts, creating a good plot with interesting settings is not enough for a story to be read but it also needs the reader’s imagination. Every reader can have their own visualization of what they are reading and sometimes, what they see and the way they interpret what they read might be different from the interpretation that the author want them to have. For example, the poem entitled “The Road Not Taken” and the short narratives entitled “A Worn Path” and “Used to Live Here Once” all have the same theme but when read together by different people and asked what do they think of the stories, they might give different descriptions. These stories and poem deal with one thing which is the main character’s journey towards the unknown and how the main character made decisions that will change the course their lives forever and their loved ones. The stories are presented in different ways. For Robert Frost, he presented his poem’s main character through a first person narration and showed a plot of a man going on a journey. The story of the woman on the “Worn Path” on the other hand was being narrated on a third person basis with the woman as the narrator and at the same time the main character. The loneliness of the woman is apparent on this tory because the woman even talked to animals while walking alone and readers can immediately connects to her especially those who are facing problems of their own. The woman’s journey on this story is not an easy one as the line continues to describe her journey though “an uphill climb” aside from the fact that the woman is also on her old age already. This is the same with “Used to Live Here Once” where the main character also lives alone and the narration is being on the third person too. The woman on this story has been alone or seems to be alone all her life that she has been spending some time standing in front of a river on her own. Both novels used a woman character as the center of the story but the authors are different in the way they introduced and presented their main characters. Aside from character creation, there is also a need to create a great setting that will be interesting for the readers so they can continue reading. Sometimes, the plot is left unknown especially in poems making the reader more interested with the content of the poem and from there reading, they can have their own idea of where the story could have taken place. Take for example the “The Road Less Taken” by Robert Frost, the poem has a line that says line “Two roads diverged in yellow wood” and this can be a place where the setting of the poem took place but who knows where the two roads are? I don’t know either. For literature critic readers though, this line might mean someone else’s personal path to go through, hence the setting can be specifically assign by the reader based on their experiences in life. To further make things interesting, Robert Frost added another description of the setting which is “where it bent in the undergrowth” and “grassy and wanted wear” giving the place a deeper meaning. It might mean that the roads could be different but there is a great chance it goes to the same ending or that regardless of how people take different paths, they might meet at the end of the road because there is only one end. For poems, the use of symbols and figurative speeches is one of the things that you can notice. There are meaning for everything when reading a poem depending on the context of the poem like “aging” for yellow colors and “hollowness” for grey colors. However, if you will read short stories, these colors might mean different thing like for the “Wizard of Oz”, the color yellow (the yellow brick road that Dorothy needs to go through) symbolizes not an old age but the beginning of Dorothy’s adventure to the unknown. Dorothy also has to deal with two roads in the story which I interpreted as a challenge for her – it means weighing options and choosing to go through it. The road in the Wizard of Oz was also described as “in leaves no step had trodden black” that might mean death (black) or the end of the adventure of Dorothy. There was a comparison with the roads that Dorothy needs to take and since the second road was described as “grassy and seemingly brilliant”, it might mean a better path for the main character. It became a dilemma for the main character because there are reasons why she cannot choose the better road like possible people she might leave behind or the fear of taking the road unknown to her. This is the same dilemma that Robert Frost character in the “The Road Less Taken” has been facing. The character on his poem doesn’t know whether he will take the second road that promises something but there are also uncertainties or whether she will just go through with living their current life and stay where they are. The choice depends on the character’s personality. The thing with too mysterious literature piece is that the author might create a lot of confusion along the way to keep the readers guessing about the outcome of the story and this can either make the reader more interested get bored. With “Used to Live Here Once”, I got bored. The story is full of sadness and the plot will leave the reader feel the sadness due to the way the story was presented however it is not much of thrill for me. The woman’s loneliness made it difficult for the woman to appreciate the beauty before her like the beauty of the river that she have been seeing for such a long time now (“standing by the river”). The woman ended up returning home alone because she knew there is nothing left to do outside and this part did made me sad for her. The line “It was strange to see a car standing in front of it” was another source of confusion for me because it looks like it just appear of nowhere, who is standing in front of the car or why? Is it the woman? I guess this part lacks some part that is why it didn’t appeal to me that much. The third person style of narration made it harder as well to create a connection for me and although the story seems to be the story of the author, there are parts of the story that lacks certain information making me think that the author is trying to hide something- maybe his personal experience too. This type of narrative is being categorized as a narrative that is repetitive in nature because of multiple rejections in life of the main character according to Elizabeth Able (Able, 1979). This work of Jean Rhys is actually centers on rejection and it is apparent on the language she used to write the narrative. “Used to Live Here Once” has been using a lot of symbolisms that I want to describe and define because it did helped me identify the woman’s main feeling. The woman of the story has been standing in front of a river for quite some time because I believe the woman sees it as a symbol of life, it is flowing, and continuous hence she needs to do the same thing. Yet my interpretation of the woman’s definition of the river might have been wrong because the woman died after all yet again, the river might have been a part of the woman’s life in the past when she was still living her dreams. Aside from the river, road or mentions of roads are also apparent in this novel which shows the woman’s journey and the challenges she have to face during her lifetime. Next thing that I notice is when the author wrote about the woman’s feeling saying it is a “fine blue day”. As we all know, blue can symbolize feeling of calmness and peace and it represents the day when the woman finally met her peace through death. The author wrote the story in a third person basis yet there are instances where in a first person basis is needed to put emphasis on some things that are happening in the story like when the woman talked to some children. The way Rhys describes her character and made the plot and settings made me think that it is one of the interesting stories I ever examined and the color symbols she had was an additional factor to it. Another third person narrative is the “A Worn Path” whose story definitely touched my heart. The character of the story and her story was built in such a way that readers can easily identify with her and feel the pity and sadness that the character must be feeling. The author has been trying to create a lively setting by starting the narration with “A bright frozen day early in the morning” which means that the story started one sunny morning or one good morning. This has been confirmed when I made further research about the story. According to James Saunders, the story indeed started one December morning when it was too cold and the woman character on the story was in fact a woman of late age and is black (Saunders, 1992). In short, she is a Negro and that she is approaching the end of life already or the end of her journey. Upon reading the story, I realized that the setting is on a forest and the old woman is walking her way down with much difficulty because of her age and of the weather or time of the day-it is a cold December morning. While walking her way down, the woman’s environment change (“the sun made the pine needles almost too bright to look up at”) making it known to us that the sun just come up and that the woman felt happy about it. despite the good weather on her way, the woman still had struggles like facing the river and being able to cross it and the woman needs to get something to hold on (a log) to be able to reach the other side without being carried away by the river. It only shows that the woman needs to get somewhere in the other ends of the river and that she is willing to do everything it takes just to get there. The way the “A Worn Path” was narrated is superb for me because of the symbols and the style of narration that the author had. Symbolisms were used not only to describe the emotion and tone that the story wants to depict but it also gives a hint of possibilities along the way. The opening line which is “bright frozen morning” can be a symbol of a happy story that I am reading or a happy start for the woman of the story as well as it can mean a good settings. The author’s way of using words is also interesting. The author described the woman as yellow underneath her dark cheekbones which simply means she is beyond her teen age and probably an old woman already. Knowing that the character is old and the weather is cold and that she is alone, and then readers can immediately grasps an idea of loneliness. Her description of the woman and of the road she needs to go through made it easier for me to visualize the character and connects to her feelings. There are other symbols that represents hardship and challenges like ‘thorn’, ‘big trees’ and different types of animals that the woman have to face along the way. On one of the scene, the woman was described with her behaviors towards the animals (dancing with a scarecrow and talking to trees and other animals) and this behavior doesn’t mean that she is getting crazy or whatsoever but actually means that the woman is indeed too lonely that she find solace and comfort with animals and trees around her. The description of changing trees and falling leaves can mean changes with the season literally while at the same time can mean changes with the woman’s life- might be dying time. One line says “She reached her hand up, but nothing reached down to give her a pull” and I guess it means that the woman has been asking the great God to take her and finish her sufferings yet even God won’t see her and respond to her. This makes the story even sadder because it shows how tired the woman is. What we didn’t know is that God is still looking and loving her and she wasn’t taken as she wanted too because God has other plans for her. God in fact send a hunter that helped the woman and brought her to a medical institution where the grand kid she cared for can still see her. These three stories that we presented, the Road Not Taken, Used to Live Her Once, and the A Worn Path all goes through the same thing- a journey of life. The Road Not Taken shows how someone can choose her or his own path and make his own destiny while the Used to Live Her Once shows the journey of a woman whose life already met the end. The story of A Worn Path is about wanting to end a journey that is not ye ending and then finding the courage to continue because the character finally found out that she still have a reason to live- her grand kid.
References
(Abel E 1979)Abel, E. (1979). Women and Schizophrenia: The Fiction of Jean Rhys. Retrieved from Contemporary Literature Web site: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1207964
(Clungston R W 2010 Journey Into Literature)Clungston, R. W. (2010). Journey Into Literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Frost R. (1916). The Road Not Taken. Mountain Interval. New York: Holt.
Rhys J. (1976). I Used To Live Here Once. Sleep it off, lady. London: Penguin Books.
Saunders, J. (1992). A Worn Path: The Eternal Quest of Welty’s Phoenix Jackson. The Southern Literary Journal, 25(1), Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20078057 Welty, E. (1996). A Worn path. A Curtain of Green And Other Stories. New York: Doubleday.…...

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