American Literature, Essay Exam
1. Mark Twain has made use of various features of Local Color such as in his book Huckleberry Finn. Local color is a style used in writing to show the features and peculiarities of the people in a given locality. The first feature is that of narration which makes use of a narrator who in most cases is educated to draw a distinction between urbanized audience and the locals. An example is when Huck displays moral maturity by saying, “what’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong” (Twain, 90). Secondly, the use of dialects has been employed to clearly show the literacy levels of the locals. For instance, Jim speaks in improper grammar and using shortened works by saying things like, “Say, who is you? What is you?” (Twain, 120) Thirdly, the setting of the story is another characteristic of local color given that it is usually inaccessible and remote. The surroundings are described as, “The leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die” (Twain, 124) The characteristic lacking in Twain’s writing is the description of people’s mode of dressing to enhance the picture of local color. As such, the features of local colors are important as they enhance the reader’s understanding of the local environment.
3. According to Kate Chopin, in her book titled “The Storm,” she felt that it was refreshing for a woman to have some independence, contrary to the societal norm. For instance, Calixta who was repressed and always tied to her husband felt refreshed after her extramarital affair with Alcee. Marriage was a constricting tradition especially for the women during Kate’s era and thus women were expected to devote themselves to their husbands and even their free will was eliminated. Contrarily, Kate is of the opinion that when women free their minds from their husbands and focus on their own desires the loneliness leaves. This can be depicted from the fact that when Calixta surrendered herself to the passion she felt for Alcee she completely forgot about her husband’s absence. Actually, she no longer felt lonely after her encounter with Alcee as Chopin says “So the storm passed and everyone was happy” (Chopin, 309). This shows that there is no harm in adultery even for women as it can help to break the monotony they experience in marriage. Furthermore, the distance between Clarisse and her husband Alcee gave her the opportunity to pursue her interests and socialize with her friends. This is evident when after Clarisse was given a one-month extension in Biloxi by Alcee, “she takes her first breath since her marriage” (Chopin, 316). According to her, “the pleasant liberty of her maiden days” had been restored (Chopin, 316). Generally, unconventional sexual practices can be refreshing for women and even women’s liberation from men like in the case of Clarisse provides a woman with ample time to pursue her interests.
4. Ambrose Bierce displays naturalistic features in his book “An Owl Creek Bridge” The first feature can be depicted from the setting of the story. Bierce describes that there were “Two private soldiers of the Federal Army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a sheriff” thus showing a warring surrounding (Tucker, 40). The second feature is that of death and Bierce describes it by saying it is “a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him” and this can be seen from the death of Peyton Farquhar (Tucker, 48). The third feature is the victims involved in war or those who end up dying. This can be seen from the statement “The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded” (Tucker, 56). The naturalistic features enhances the understandability of the novel.
5. Stephen Crane’s book “The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure” show a number of ironic circumstances. The irony in the story is that the oiler who was the strongest and the best swimmer did not make it to the show alive. The corresponded who had resigned to fate makes it to the shores alive while the oiler does not. In fact, the correspondent felt that “drowning must really be a comfortable arrangement” yet ironically he made it alive as opposed to the oiler who appeared to be more optimistic (Crane, 75). Furthermore, situational irony can be seen when instead of the people at shore helping the four men in the boat. They stand and stare at them in an amused way thus the four men say, “Funny they don’t see us” (Crane, 64). Therefore, what appears to be a thrilling excursion to the onlookers at the shore is actually a matter of life and death for the four men who risked being drowned. The third irony is when the three surviving men are considered as “interpreters” of death after their encounter (Crane, 77). It is ironical because they have only gone through a harrowing experience but they have never really died. As such, it would be impossible for them to interpret death.
Chopin, Kate, Emily Toth, and Per Seyersted. Kate Chopin's Private Papers. Bloomington: Indiana university press, 1998. Print.
Crane, Stephen. The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure. Boston: MobileReference.com, 2010. Internet resource.
Tucker, Spencer. American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. , 2013. Internet resource.
Twain, Mark. Huckleberry Finn. Irvine: Saddleback Educational Pub, 2005. Internet resource.