Dr. Manimangai Mani
E-mail :
Contact no: 016-5316715
Room : No. 4, Makmal Siber 1,Muzium
Warisan Melayu.
Baker, S., Frye, N., Perkins, M.B. (1997). The
Harper Handbook to Literature. New
Hemingway, E. (1952). The Old Man and the
Sea. United Kingdom: Jonathan Cape Ltd.
Kennedy, X.J.&Gioia, D. (2003). Literature: An
Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama.
New York: Harper Collins College Publishers.
Lawrence, D.H. (2000). The Rainbow.
London:Penguin Popular Classics.
Peck, J. and Coyle, M. (1993) Literary Terms
and Criticism. Houndmills: The MacMillan
Press Ltd.
A Worn Path – Eudora Welty
The Yellow Wall Paper- Charlotte Perkins
The Lottery – Shirley Jackson
Araby - James Joyce
The Storm- Kate Chopin
The Old Man with the Enormous WingsTo Hell with Dying – Alice Walker
The Serpent’s Tooth -
The Old Man and the Sea – Earnest
The Rainbow – D.H. Lawrence
Test 1 - 10%
- 20%
Written Assignment - 30% (due Week 10)
Final Exam - 40%
Historical development of novels and short
stories in America and Britain
To understand the historical development of
the short stories and novels in Britain and
To Identify novels and short stories
The roots of the novel come from a number of
Elizabethan prose fiction
French heroic romance--vast baroque narratives
about thinly disguised contemporaries (mid-17th
century) who always acted nobly and spoke highflown sentiment
Spanish picaresque tales--strings of episodic
adventures held together by the personality of
the central figure; Don Quixote is the best known
of these tales.
The word "novel" (which wasn't even used until
the end of the 18th century) is an English
transliteration of the Italian word "novella"--used
to describe a short, compact, broadly realistic
tale popular during the medieval period (e.g. The
The novel deals with a human character in a
social situation, man as a social being.
The novel places more emphasis on character,
especially one well-rounded character, than on
Another initial major characteristic of the novel is
realism--a full and authentic report of human
The traditional novel has:
a unified and plausible plot structure
sharply individualized and believable
a pervasive illusion of reality
E.M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel cites the
definition of a Frenchman named Abel
Chevalley: "a fiction in prose of a certain
extent" and adds that he defines "extent" as
over 50,000 words.
The novel, however, arises from the desire to
depict and interpret human character. The
reader of a novel is both entertained and
aided in a deeper perception of life's
A novel is a long prose narrative that
describes fictional characters and events,
usually in the form of a sequential story,
written by a novelist. The genre has historical
roots in antiquity and the fields of medieval
and early modern romance and in the
tradition of the novella. The novella is an
Italian word used to describe short stories,
supplied the present generic English term in
the 18th century.
Further definition of the genre is historically
difficult. The construction of the narrative,
the plot, the relation to reality, the
characterization, and the use of language are
usually discussed to show a novel's artistic
Most of these requirements were introduced
to literary prose in the 16th and 17th
centuries, in order to give fiction a
justification outside the field of factual
Short stories date back to oral storytelling
traditions which originally produced epics such
as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. Oral narratives
were often told in the form of rhyming or
rhythmic verse, often including recurring sections
or, in the case of Homer, Homeric epithets.
Such stylistic devices often acted as mnemonics
for easier recall, rendition and adaptation of the
story. Short sections of verse might focus on
individual narratives that could be told at one
sitting. The overall arc of the tale would emerge
only through the telling of multiple such
In Europe, the oral story-telling tradition
began to develop into written stories in the
early 14th century, most notably with
Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and
Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron.
Both of these books are composed of
individual short stories (which range from
farce or humorous anecdotes to well-crafted
literary fictions) set within a larger narrative
story (a frame story ), although the frametale device was not adopted by all writers.
At the end of the 16th century, some of the
most popular short stories in Europe were the
darkly tragic "novella" of Matteo Bandello
(especially in their French translation).
The first short stories in the United Kingdom
were gothic tales like Richard Cumberland's
"remarkable narrative" "The Poisoner of
Montremos" (1791).
Great novelists like Sir Walter Scott and
Charles Dickens also wrote some short
One of the earliest short stories in the United
States was Charles Brockden Brown's
"Somnambulism" from 1805. Washington
Irving wrote mysterious tales including "Rip
van Winkle" (1819) and "The Legend of Sleepy
Hollow" (1820).
Nathaniel Hawthorne published the first part
of his Twice-Told Tales in 1837. Edgar Allan
Poe wrote his tales of mystery and
imagination between 1832 and 1849.
Classic stories are "The Fall of the House of
Usher", "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Cask of
Amontillado", "The Pit and the Pendulum",
and the first detective story, "The Murders in
the Rue Morgue".
In "The Philosophy of Composition" (1846)
Poe argued that a literary work should be
short enough for a reader to finish in one
Short stories tend to be less complex than
novels. Usually a short story focuses on one
incident; has a single plot, a single setting,
and a small number of characters; and covers
a short period of time.
The modern short story form emerged from
oral story-telling traditions, the brief
moralistic narratives of parables and fables,
and the prose anecdote, all of these being
forms of a swiftly sketched situation that
quickly comes to its point.
A short story is a brief work of literature,
usually written in narrative prose. Emerging
from earlier oral storytelling traditions in the
17th century, the short story has grown to
encompass a body of work so diverse as to
defy easy characterization.
At its most prototypical the short story
features a small cast of named characters,
and focuses on a self-contained incident with
the intent of evoking a "single effect" or
In doing so, short stories make use of plot,
resonance, and other dynamic components to
a far greater degree than is typical of an
anecdote, yet to a far lesser degree than a
While the short story is largely distinct from
the novel, authors of both generally draw
from a common pool of literary techniques.
Short stories have no set length. In terms of
word count there is no official demarcation
between an anecdote, a short story, and a
Rather, the form's parameters are given by
the rhetorical and practical context in which a
given story is produced and considered, so
that what constitutes a short story may differ
between genres, countries, eras, and
Like the novel, the short story's predominant
shape reflects the demands of the available
markets for publication, and the evolution of
the form seems closely tied to the evolution
of the publishing industry and the submission
guidelines of its constituent houses.
Identifying themes, setting and
theme is an idea or concept that is central to
a story, which can often be summed in a
single word (e.g. love, death, betrayal).
Typical examples of themes of this type are
conflict between the individual and society;
coming of age; humans in conflict with
technology; nostalgia; and the dangers of
unchecked ambition.
A theme may be exemplified by the actions,
utterances, or thoughts of a character in a
novel. An example of this would be the theme
loneliness in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and
Men, wherein many of the characters seem to
be lonely. It may differ from the thesis—the
text's or author's implied worldview.
A story may have several themes. Themes often
explore historically common or cross-culturally
recognizable ideas, such as ethical questions,
and are usually implied rather than stated
explicitly. An example of this would be whether
one should live a seemingly better life, at the
price of giving up parts of ones humanity, which
is a theme in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Along with plot, character, setting, and style,
theme is considered one of the fundamental
components of fiction.
n works of narrative (especially fictional), the
literary element setting includes the historical
moment in time and geographic location in
which a story takes place, and helps initiate
the main backdrop and mood for a story.
Setting has been referred to as story world
or milieu to include a context (especially
society) beyond the immediate surroundings
of the story.
Elements of setting may include culture,
historical period, geography, and hour.
Along with the plot, character, theme, and
style, setting is considered one of the
fundamental components of fiction.
Setting is a critical component for assisting
the story, as in man vs. nature or man vs.
society stories.
In some stories the setting becomes a
character itself. The term "setting" is often
used to refer to the social milieu in which the
events of a novel occur.
Setting includes three closely related aspects
of a work of fiction.
The physical, sensuous world of the work.
The time in which the action of the work
takes place.
The social environment of the characters (i.e.
the manners, customs, and moral values of
the characters' society).
Setting can also help to reveal character.
The environment in which the character lives may
help the reader to understand the character's
motives and behavior. (e.g. The theft of a loaf of
bread from the rich by a poor, starving person
would give one interpretation of a character,
whereas the same theft from other poor people
would give another. The theft by a rich person of
that same loaf of bread would lead to a different
The way that the setting is described can also
show the inner feelings of a character.
Setting in literature is the location and time
frame in which the action of a narrative takes
The makeup and behaviour of fictional characters
often depend on their environment quite as much
as on their personal characteristics.
Setting is of great importance in Émile Zola’s
novels, for example, because he believed that
environment determines character. In some
cases the entire action of a novel is determined
by the locale in which it is set.
Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857)
could hardly have been placed in Paris,
because the tragic life and death of the
heroine have a great deal to do with the
circumscriptions of her provincial milieu. It
sometimes happens that the main locale of a
novel assumes an importance in the reader’s
imagination comparable to that of the
characters. Wessex is a giant, brooding
presence in Thomas Hardy’s novels.
The popularity of Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverley”
novels is due in part to their evocation of a
romanticized Scotland. Setting may be the
prime consideration of some readers, who
can be drawn to Joseph Conrad because he
depicts life at sea or in the East Indies; they
may be less interested in the complexity of
human relationships that he presents.
The setting of a novel may be an actual city
or region made greater than life, as in James
Joyce’s characterization of Dublin. But
settings may also be completely the work of
an author’s imagination: in Vladimir
Nabokov’s Ada (1969), for example, there is
an entirely new space-time continuum, and in
The Lord of the Rings (1954–55) J.R.R.
Tolkien created an “alternative world” in his
Middle Earth.
Flat and Round characters
Flat characters are two-dimensional in that
they are relatively uncomplicated and do not
change throughout the course of a work.
Round characters are complex and undergo
development, sometimes sufficiently to
surprise the reader.
Identifying the use of symbols and metaphors
in short story
- A Worn Path by Eudora Welty
To understand the nature of love
To understand the choice of words
To draw a parallel between the story and the
legendary life cycle of the phoenix
Phoenix Jackson is an old, poor black woman.
She is on a journey to a clinic to get free
medicine for her sick grandson. The route which
she takes is dotted with obstacles and we are
given detailed narration of the old woman
surrounding laden with images of further
emphasizes the tormenting journey of her
journey. She even falls into a ditch when startled
by a dog. When she finally arrives at the clinic, a
strange quietness envelopes her. When jolted out
of her trance, she collects the medicine and turns
to start the journey home.
Phoenix’s unconditional love for her
Words used to describe the difficult path:
A very cold, windy morning
A thorny bush which she got entangled
A barbed-wire fence which she had to crawl
A scarecrow which she thought was a ghost
A ditch in which she falls
A log across a creek which she crossed with
her eyes closed.
The phoenix is a mystical bird that has a very
long life span which can live for 500 years.
When the phoenix approaches death, it will
build a nest on the branches of a tree. Then
the nest will burst into flames and burn the
phoenix. A new phoenix will arise from the
ashes and flies forth to begin a new life cycle.
The cycle goes on repeatedly every 500 years.
Identifying the protagonist’s emotions in
short story
- The Yellow Wall Paper by Charlotte Perkins
To understand the social setting of the
women in 19th century
To observe how a person gradually moves
towards insanity
To identify the reasons for the character’s
irrational behavior
It is a passionate account of a distraught
woman over her marital situation. It is told in
the first person narrative where this woman
wants to be independent through her work to
maintain her sanity. However, her wishes are
ignored by the male chauvinistic in her life,
her husband, brother and her doctor.
She is emotionally and intellectually violated.
She finds herself imprisoned in her room with
yellow wallpaper and the patterns on it seem
to permeate a negative influence upon
herself. And as she fights a futile battle for
her identity and independence, she succumbs
to madness.
Women are oppressed. They are not allowed
to have their own thoughts.
The narrator is belittled and ridiculed by her
husband, brother and doctor.
The narrator wants to write as a means to
express herself but this too is ridiculed by her
The narrator is deprived of freedom and
confined to a room.
She is intellectually suppressed and not
allowed to write.
She begins to concentrate on the patterns of
the wall paper and identifies herself with the
woman on the paper.
Husband makes her believe that she is weak.
She tears the wall paper and begins creeping,
mimicking the woman in the pattern –
Oppression by the male society
Lack of freedom to express herself
Supression of feelings
Analysis of irony, symbolism and traditions in
the short story
- The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
To identify the features of an unusual
relationship between the individual and the
To analyse the irony, symbolism and
traditions in the short story
This is a story of a village of people who are
deeply rooted in tradition. The story starts
with the people gathering in a square for the
annual lottery. The lottery is carried out by
having each member of the village draw out a
piece of folded paper from black box. The
black box has a long history of being in the
village. The lottery is carried out in
neighbouring villages too, but in some
places, there have been discussions to stop
the lottery tradition.
When they draw their lots, they open the
papers in deep silence. One of the papers
belonging to Tessie Hutchingson has a black
spot on it. The purpose of the lottery
becomes clear as she is stoned to death by
every member of the society, including her
own family.
The society members hold on to a tradition
which is archaic and primitive and they do not
accept changes unlike other villages.
They accept that every 27th June, someone
has to die at the lottery
They behave as a community when coming to
a single decision but the irony is that the
victim of the communal decision is forced on
one person, an individual.
Family members of the victim are not affected
by the decision but instead turn against each
other to fulfill the outcome of the lottery
Black box – represents a tradition that has
been carried out for generations
Old man Warner – history – “Lottery in June,
corn be heavy soon” – is a harvest to increase
the harvest.
Individualistic society – selfish when it comes
to life and death
Analysis of the relationship between the
protagonist’s journey and his personal feeling
- Araby – James Joyce
To enlist the obstacles which prevent the
protagonist to fulfill his intentions
To draw a parallel between the protagonist’s
inability to overcome obstacles in the journey
to the symbolic Araby and his failure to win
the heart of the girl he desires.
Born James Augustine Aloysius Joyce on February
2, 1882 in Dublin, Ireland. Joyce was one of the
most revered writers of the 20th century, whose
landmark book, Ulysses, is often hailed as one of
the finest novels ever written.
His exploration of language and new literary
forms showed not only his genius as a writer but
spawned a fresh approach for novelists, one that
drew heavily on Joyce's love of the stream-ofconsciousness technique and the examination of
big events through small happenings in everyday
Joyce came from a big family. He was the
eldest of ten children born to John Stanislaus
Joyce and his wife Marry Murray Joyce.
His father, while a talented singer (he
reportedly had one of the finest tenor voices
in all of Ireland), didn't provide a stable a
He liked to drink and his lack of attention to
the family finances meant the Joyces never
had much money.
Because of his intelligence Joyce's family
pushed him to get an education. Largely
educated by Jesuits, Joyce attended the Irish
schools of Clongowes Wood College and later
Belvedere College before finally landing at
University College Dublin, where he earned a
Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus on
modern languages.
Joyce's relationship with his native country
was a complex one and after graduating he
left Ireland for a new life in Paris where he
hoped to study medicine. He returned,
however, not long after upon learning that his
mother had become sick. She died in 1903.
Joyce stayed in Ireland for a short time, long
enough to meet Nora Barnacle, a hotel
chambermaid who hailed from Galway and
later became his wife.
Around this time, Joyce also had his first
short story published in the Irish Homestead
magazine. The publication picked up two
more Joyce works, but this start of a literary
career was not enough to keep him in Ireland
and in late 1904 he and Barnacle moved first
to what is now the Croatian city of Pula
before settling in the Italian seaport city of
There, Joyce taught English and learned
Italian, one of 17 languages he could speak, a
list that included Arabic, Sanskrit, and Greek.
Other moves followed, as the Joyce and
Barnacle (the two weren't formally married
until some three decades after they met)
made their home in cities like Rome and
The narrator, an unnamed boy, describes the
North Dublin street on which his house is
located. He thinks about the priest who died in
the house before his family moved in and the
games that he and his friends played in the
He recalls how they would run through the back
lanes of the houses and hide in the shadows
when they reached the street again, hoping to
avoid people in the neighborhood, particularly
the boy’s uncle or the sister of his friend
The sister often comes to the front of their
house to call the brother, a moment that the
narrator savors.
Every day begins for this narrator with such
glimpses of Mangan’s sister. He places
himself in the front room of his house so he
can see her leave her house, and then he
rushes out to walk behind her quietly until
finally passing her.
The narrator and Mangan’s sister talk little, but
she is always in his thoughts. He thinks about her
when he accompanies his aunt to do food
shopping on Saturday evening in the busy
marketplace and when he sits in the back room
of his house alone. The narrator’s infatuation is
so intense that he fears he will never gather the
courage to speak with the girl and express his
One morning, Mangan’s sister asks the narrator
if he plans to go to Araby, a Dublin bazaar.
She notes that she cannot attend, as she has
already committed to attend a retreat with
her school. Having recovered from the shock
of the conversation, the narrator offers to
bring her something from the bazaar. This
brief meeting launches the narrator into a
period of eager, restless waiting and fidgety
tension in anticipation of the bazaar. He
cannot focus in school. He finds the lessons
tedious, and they distract him from thinking
about Mangan’s sister.
On the morning of the bazaar the narrator
reminds his uncle that he plans to attend the
event so that the uncle will return home early
and provide train fare. Yet dinner passes and
a guest visits, but the uncle does not return.
The narrator impatiently endures the time
passing, until at 9 p.m. the uncle finally
returns, unbothered that he has forgotten
about the narrator’s plans.
Reciting the epigram “All work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy,” the uncle gives the
narrator the money and asks him if he knows
the poem “The Arab’s Farewell to his Steed.”
The narrator leaves just as his uncle begins to
recite the lines, and, thanks to eternally slow
trains, arrives at the bazaar just before 10
p.m., when it is starting to close down. He
approaches one stall that is still open, but
buys nothing, feeling unwanted by the
woman watching over the goods. With no
purchase for Mangan’s sister, the narrator
stands angrily in the deserted bazaar as the
lights go out.
coming of age
the loss of innocence
the life of the mind versus poverty (both
physical and intellectual)
the consequences of idealization
the Catholic Church's influence to make
Dublin a place of asceticism where desire and
sensuality are seen as immoral
the pain that often comes when one
encounters love in reality instead of its
elevated form
These themes build on one another entirely
through the thoughts of the young boy, who
is portrayed by the first-person narrator, who
writes from memory.
Analysis of characters and their lives and
peculiarities in novels
- To Hell with Dying by Alice walker
To link the maturity of the characters to their
acceptance of death
Alice Malsenior Walker (born February 9,
1944) is an American author, poet, selfclaimed womanist, and activist.
She wrote the critically acclaimed novel The
Color Purple (1982) for which she won the
National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
Walker was born in Putnam County, Georgia,
the youngest of eight children, to Willie Lee
Walker and Minnie Lou Tallulah Grant.
Her father, who was, in her words, "wonderful
at math but a terrible farmer," earned only
$300 ($4,000 in 2013 dollars) a year from
sharecropping and dairy farming.
Her mother supplemented the family income
by working as a maid. She worked 11 hours a
day for USD $17 per week to help pay for
Alice to attend college.
In 1952, Walker was accidentally wounded in the
right eye by a shot from a BB gun fired by one of
her brothers.
Since the family did not have a car, she was taken
to the hospital one week later. By then she was
already blind on the right eye.
When a layer of scar tissue formed over her
wounded eye, Alice became self-conscious and
painfully shy. Stared at and sometimes taunted,
she felt like an outcast and turned for solace to
reading and to writing poetry. When she was 14,
the scar tissue was removed.
After graduating in 1965, Walker became
interested in the U.S. civil rights movement in
part due to the influence of activist Howard
Zinn, who was one of her professors at
Spelman College.
Continuing the activism that she participated
in during her college years, Walker returned
to the South where she became involved with
voter registration drives, campaigns for
welfare rights, and children's programs in
Walker met Martin Luther King Jr. when she
was a student at Spelman College in Atlanta
in the early 1960s. Walker credits King for her
decision to return to the American South as
an activist for the Civil Rights Movement.
She marched with hundreds of thousands in
August in the 1963 March on Washington. As
a young adult, she volunteered to register
black voters in Georgia and Mississippi.
In 1965, Walker met Melvyn Rosenman
Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. They
were married on March 17, 1967 in New York
City. Later that year the couple relocated to
Jackson, Mississippi, becoming "the first
legally married inter-racial couple in
They were harassed and threatened by
whites, including the Ku Klux Klan. The
couple had a daughter Rebecca in 1969.
Walker and her husband divorced in 1976.
The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970)
In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women
Meridian (1976)
The Color Purple (1982)
You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down: Stories
To Hell With Dying (1988)
The Temple of My Familiar (1989)
Finding the Green Stone (1991)
Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992)
The Complete Stories (1994)
By The Light of My Father's Smile (1998)
The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart
Now Is The Time to Open Your Heart [a novel]
(2004) Random House ISBN13
Everyday Use (1973). Short stories, essays,
Once (1968)
Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973)
Good Night, Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning
Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful (1985)
Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems
Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth (2003)
A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems And Drawings
Collected Poems (2005)
Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems
In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist
Prose (1983)
Living by the Word (1988)
Warrior Marks (1993)
The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult
Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's
Activism (1997)
Go Girl!: The Black Woman's Book of Travel
and Adventure (1997)
Pema Chodron and Alice Walker in
Conversation (1999)
Sent By Earth: A Message from the
Grandmother Spirit After the Bombing of the
World Trade Center and Pentagon (2001)
We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For
Overcoming Speechlessness (2010)
Chicken Chronicles, A Memoir (2011)
Ingram Merrill Foundation Fellowship (1967)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1983) for The Color
National Book Award for Fiction (1983) for The
Color Purple
O. Henry Award for "Kindred Spirits" 1985.
Honorary Degree from the California Institute of
the Arts (1995)
American Humanist Association named her as
"Humanist of the Year" (1997)
The Lillian Smith Award from the National
Endowment for the Arts
The Rosenthal Award from the National Institute
of Arts & Letters
The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, the Merrill
Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
The Front Page Award for Best Magazine
Criticism from the Newswoman's Club of New
Induction to the California Hall of Fame in The
California Museum for History, Women, and the
Arts (2006)
Domestic Human Rights Award from Global
Exchange (2007)
The LennonOno Grant for Peace (2010)
Mr. Sweet is a black neighbor of the narrator.
The narrator, who is initially a little girl
summoned with the rest of her siblings
whenever Mr. Sweet is threatening to die. Mr.
Sweet is diabetic and on many occasions his
health deteriorates to the brink of death. The
narrator describes how she and her brothers
loved Mr. Sweet, despite the fact that he was
an indifferent cotton farmer, a frequent
drunk, and an inveterate smoker.
Somehow the faults of the old man, including
his falling-down bouts of drunkenness and
his slovenly personal appearance, are not
impediments to the devotion he inspires or
the affection for him on the part of the
narrator and her brothers.
Each time the children are summoned, Mr.
Sweet is reputed to be at death's door. "To
hell with dying," the narrator's father would
say. "These children want Mr. Sweet!" Then
the youngsters would leap on the man in bed
and begin their miraculous revival. By turns
tickling and kissing Mr. Sweet, the neighbor
kids manage to revive him time after time.
The narrator comes to have faith in her
unfailing ability to bring him back to life, and
several times the children succeed when the
local doctor had given up hope. Nearly two
decades pass, and the narrator is in graduate
school when another summons comes. She
flies back to the rural South and hastens to
the bedside of the old man, now over ninety.
But this time, after a brief return to
consciousness, Mr. Sweet dies.
“Even at twenty-four, how could I believe that
I had failed” the protagonist says in
disappointment. She inherits Mr. Sweet’s
guitar which he used to play to entertain all
around him. And now, she plays the guitar in
memory of a man who touched many
people’s hearts.
Mr. Sweet
A black man who has no purpose to live
His wife is dead and his son has abandoned
him which gave him the reason to drink
The only thing the held him to survive is the
bond he had with the children, his playmates.
Each time Mr. Sweet is in the brink of death,
the neighbours would call the narrator and
her family to cheer him up.
The narrator’s father would deliberately say
loudly to the dying man, “To hell with dying,
man, these children want Mr. Sweet!”
In this way, the old man cheats death several
He dies when he is ninety. The “beautufui
children” were now leading their own lives
with the narrator pursuing her doctoral
But the irony is that the narrator and her
family did not feel the significance of their
concern and commitment to Mr. Sweet in
evoking him the will to live.
The narrator seemed to treat death rather
casually in relation to Mr. Sweet, “It did not
occur to us that we were doing anything
special; we had not learned that death was
final when it did come…”
The children in this story had different
outlook towards death. Death never really
came as a threat to them as they believed
that it could be evaded. This is why they
could humour death when it faced them
through the person of Mr. Sweet. They had a
high level of faith in their ability to stop
death. This reflects their immaturity on the
topic of death.
“It did not occur to us that we were doing
anything special; we had not learned that
death was final when it did come. We thought
nothing of triumphing over it so many
times… it did not occur to us that our father
had been dying we could not have stopped it,
that Mr. Sweet was the only person over
whom we had power”.