The short story Happy Endings written by Margaret Atwood is considered to be a selection of possible human relationships experienced between loving people. Margaret Atwood managed to create a story in which the readers are the mover of the plot. John and Mary, the protagonists of the tale, experience various types of romantic relationships from perfect to tragic. It is important to stress that despite the fantasy of the reader the author turns the events into cruel reality ending everything with death. Atwood used a lot of concepts such as “ego gratification”, “selfishness” and “blind devotion” influencing people in real life and spoiling their physical and emotional state. It is important to stress that Happy Endings allows everyone to read between the lines. The content of the story has a subplot in which Atwood shows the interactions between human dreams and real life. The author managed to underline the existence of “happy beginnings” rather than “happy endings”. This aspect is embodied in all 6 types of relationships described in the tale. The readers have an opportunity to participate indirectly in the story events but the author proves that everything in our life ends in the same way. Happy end is a tale, happy beginning is reality! (Booth, 2005)
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“Sonny’s Blues” is a story written by James Baldwin who strived to depict the process of the constant struggle between two sophisticated inner worlds of close people, to be more exact between two brothers. The purpose of this struggle is to know more about the characters of each other. Baldwin managed to create the story most realistically. The tale is written by the elder brother’s narrator with the description of the past, present, and future for the readers to be completely involved in the flow of events. It should be noted that one perceives the life of Sonny’s family from its vision by the elder brother. The narrator is presented as the person who knows everything about his family giving the perfect scenarios for the readers. This position of his made him feel responsible for Sonny’s actions and behavior. The author’s decision of writing the story from the brother’s point of view is aimed at transferring the character’s feelings and emotions to the readers. The tale is considered to be quite believable and realistic viewed through the brother’s eyes. The author allows comparing events of different periods; he underlined the value of the family for story characters and how it changed with every passing moment or event.
“And I did not write Sonny or send him anything for a long time. When I finally did, it was just after my little girl died.” (Baldwin, p. 46).
It is important to stress that the success of the story is reached due to Baldwin’s selective omniscient view involving the readers into the real life of the family and disclosing all the peculiarities of human relations and inner fight.
Roman Fever by Edith Wharton is a short story disclosing the friendship of two middle-aged women. It should be stressed that the story is rather close to life. The author tried to show how mistakable our opinion about another person can be. The protagonists of the story are Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley who illustrated their artificial friendship over many years. The central problem of the story is related to such human qualities as envy, snobbism, and self-serving. Mrs. Slade envied the life of her friend and the family she has. The author showed the situation through Mrs. Slade’s eyes who felt that her friend’s daughter was far effective than her own. She liked to enjoy flattery on the part of surrounding people:
“What, that handsome woman with the good clothes and eyes is Mrs. Slade…” (Wharton, 1994).
The story has lack of sincerity between two close friends. Both women lost their beloved husbands, but even this tragic situation could not break Mrs. Slade’s desire to be superior to her friend. The author tried to transfer the reader into the world of cruel envy which can be hidden under the mask of sincere friendly relationships. The story reflects the life of constant lie between two friends whose relationships could not be linked even through tragic fates of their family. The author wanted to show the artificial feelings through the subplot of the story. People cannot be sure in anyone’s feelings, even if it is your close friends. The irony of the story lies in the fact that if one is not too busy to worry about personal life, it is possible for him to understand the others’ feelings.
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The final story to analyze is called The Country Husband by John Cheever. The protagonist of the story is Francis, who perceives Shady Hill as the place hanging morally from the thread. The story is devoted to inner fight of the main character with his own troubles and feelings. The plane crash experienced by Francis made his to perceive his personal life differently. He started to see the things he had never noticed before. Francis discloses disenchantment towards his own wife Julia and Shady Hill town. The man suddenly falls in love with Ann and begins to experience the growing of feelings inside himself. It is the story of personal contradictions of the man from countryside who started to evaluate the new feelings and qualities in surrounding people. Only the crash suffered by Francis made him look at his life with different eyes. The author wanted to stress the fact that only the threat to loose one’s life can make him to perceive the world in all its beauty and find the value of such feelings as love and mutual understanding. (Cheever, 2000)
So, the analysis of four different plots of the stories showed that all of them depicted the value of human relations and feelings. The authors strived to involve the readers into the real life with real problems and make them appreciate what people have and try to see the positive moments in every day of life.
- Booth, A. The Norton Introduction to Literature. Portable Edition. New York, 2005.
- Wharton, Edith. Roman Fever. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter, 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Lexington: Heath, 1994.
- Cheever, John. The Country Husband. The Heath Introduction to Fiction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.