Certeau’s and Schwartz’s Works: Genre Comparison


Michel de Certeau’s Walking in the City and Delmore Schwartz’s Far Rockaway represent two different literature genres. The former is a short story, and the latter belongs to poems. Even though they do have some similarities that will be discussed in this paper, these genres reach out to the audience in different ways, use dissimilar words to express the main ideas, and leave readers with completely different emotions after all; also, while a poem starts right away, a short story takes some time to unfold.

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Context and Content

Both Walking in the City and Far Rockaway touch the topic of the urban environment, a megalopolis and the way people exist in it. Actually, both pieces of literature even focus on the same city. However, Michel de Certeau concentrates on the life within the city, that is, the daily urban life of people, and Delmore Schwartz describes how we can escape from its fuss and rigor.

Both stories have real settings. In the case of Walking in the City, that is the World Trade Center and the streets of New York. Firstly, the author describes the city from the viewpoint of a person “lifted out of the city’s grasp” (from the top of the high-rise) and then moves to the streets of the city and changes totality to specify (De Certeau 92). He delves into the character of the city and states that it is people who define it. The scene of Far Rockaway is also a real place. That is New York’s Rockaways, the beach, which is located within the city but still provides people with the possibility to escape from its bustle.

Both of the stories are intended for the general public but can be understood best of all by people who live in big cities and experience things the authors narrate about on a regular basis: the way how a megalopolis swamps you, and how you want to fit in at one moment and run away at another.


Michel de Certeau’s Walking in the City takes a reader through the narrative unhurriedly, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. The story unfolds gradually, and the main idea is not evident from the very beginning. It resembles climbing a mountain – you never know that the hill you see in front of you is the top you are going to reach. Due to this, the narrative thrills a reader and makes them wonder what is behind one more sentence and one more page. The author also uses subheadings to empathic his ideas, and that makes the concepts of a short story easier to understand.

The poem by Delmore Schwartz is just the opposite. From the very first verse and the very first line, a reader is immersed in the world described – right in those “self-destroying waves”, “eternities of sea and sky”, and the rays of “the passionate sun” (Schwartz par. 1-4). The pace of the poem is fast, and you finish reading even quicker than realize that. It makes you read the poem several times more, and that is when you finally pay attention to details, the striking lines and phrases the poem is full of. So, in comparison with the short story, it is more difficult to fully understand the poem on the first try.

Stylistic (Language-use)

Although Walking in the City is written at a slower pace as compared with Far Rockaway, its language is not average, it is more difficult. The sentences are basically long and intricate. The poem, in its turn, has simpler words and shorter sentences, and that allows a reader to grasp one thing at a time. Both of the authors use casual tone, even though it is more calm and peaceful in the poem.

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The keywords that can be noticed throughout both stories prove that the authors focus on the opposite points connected to the same setting: Walking in the City is full of words like “city”, “urban”, “urbanizing”, and so on while Far Rockaway has more of “waves”, “ocean”, “sun”, “summer”, etc. (De Certeau 92-93; Schwartz par. 1-3).

Rhetorical features

In both genres compared in the paper, the figure of a spectator is used to convey the main ideas to the reader. Moreover, in both of the stories, a spectator confronts the ideas that the authors strive to prove. In the poem, that is a novelist, who sees everyone’s amusement but does not participate in it. In the short story, that is an abstract person, whom readers imagine sitting on the top of the World Trade Center – even though this person sees the whole picture, he is not the part of it.

In conclusion, even though the genres compared in the paper do have some things in common they have even more distinctions. The poem thrills readers and involves them better. However, it is difficult to understand it from the first time. The short story, in its turn, has a much slower pace of the narrative, which lets a reader concentrate and that is why conveys the message better.

Works Cited

De Certeau, Michel. Walking in the City n.d. Web.

Schwartz, Delmore. Far Rockaway n.d. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, March 9). Certeau’s and Schwartz’s Works: Genre Comparison. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/certeaus-and-schwartzs-works-genre-comparison/

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"Certeau’s and Schwartz’s Works: Genre Comparison." StudyCorgi, 9 Mar. 2021, studycorgi.com/certeaus-and-schwartzs-works-genre-comparison/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Certeau’s and Schwartz’s Works: Genre Comparison." March 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/certeaus-and-schwartzs-works-genre-comparison/.


StudyCorgi. "Certeau’s and Schwartz’s Works: Genre Comparison." March 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/certeaus-and-schwartzs-works-genre-comparison/.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Certeau’s and Schwartz’s Works: Genre Comparison." March 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/certeaus-and-schwartzs-works-genre-comparison/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Certeau’s and Schwartz’s Works: Genre Comparison'. 9 March.

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