Short stories are often the best way to learn about literary terms and their uses. They’re short, as their name depicts, but contain everything that longer stories would have such as the elements of plot, foreshadowing, themes, tone, and other literary devices.
The two short stories, The Parsley Garden by William Saroyan and Sweat by Zora Neale Hudson were both amazing to read and offered a lot of insight to American history. The Parsley Garden told the story of an adolescent, named Al, during the depression, who wanted a hammer he saw in a store. Not having a single penny on him, he decided to steal it, getting caught in the action.
Lectured and humiliated by the store manager, Mr. Clemmer, he was let go resulting in him plotting his revenge and a way to get his pride back. Sweat was the story of an African-American wash-woman, Delia. She was constantly abused and was trapped under her tyrannical husband, Sykes who openly cheated on her with another woman. Despite all her hardships with her husband, she worked long and hard using her own sweat and blood to clean clothes. As their relationship got even worse, Sykes decided to pull an ugly prank on Delia that would later backfire on him.
Both stories had their similarities and differences, but some stood out more than others. The climaxes of the two stories were similar in that they were both turning points in the story, but also different in the way the story was resolved. In Sweat, the resolution is bitter sweet. “She saw him on his hands and knees as soon as she reached the door…she knew the cold river was creeping up and up to extinguish that eye which must know by now that she knew. ” Delia was emancipated from the abuse of her husband, but she still pitied him and was upset over the death of her Sykes.
The Parsley Garden ends in the more typical, happy fashion. Al finally obtains his hammer while regaining his pride. “His mother went inside and went to bed, but Al Condraj sat on the bench he had made and smelled the parsley garden and didn’t feel humiliated anymore. But nothing could stop him from hating the two men, even though he knew they hadn’t done anything they shouldn’t have”. The differences in the resolution of the two stories are common as resolutions are much more complicated than the fairytale ending these days.
Each has its own unique touch but both resolved the story with the readers in peace. Themes are the morals of the story. Both stories had many themes; some similar, some completely different. In Sweat, some of the themes included oppression, honesty, and determination just to name a few.
The Parsley Garden had a few more common ones such as coming of age, honesty, pride, and integrity. The theme that occurred most in Sweat was oppression as it was seen throughout the essay. It was the main theme unlike The Parsley Garden which didn’t have one main theme but many smaller themes spread out evenly.
“She brought love to the union and he had brought a longing after the flesh. Two months after the wedding, he had given her the first brutal beating”. Quotes about Delia getting beat, reoccurred throughout the whole story, compared to The Parsley Garden, where the themes did not reoccur. One aspect of stories in general always intrigues me.
The conflicts between the characters or between themselves is what makes up the story, so conflicts are one of the most important literary terms in a story.
Both stories contain man vs. man conflict such as when Delia and Sykes fight “That night he did not return at all, and the next day being Sunday, Delia was glad she did not have to quarrel before she hitched up her pony and drove the four miles to Woodbridge”, and when Al was grabbed by the young man in the store “but as he did so a man took him firmly by the arm without a word and pushed him to the back of the store into a small office”. Man vs. man is often the most common type of conflict as there is usually a protagonist and an antagonist.
The stories differed in that Sweat also had man vs. society, where it went against society, for Sykes to beat Delia as aforementioned with the theme, oppression. Sweat and The Parsley Garden were similar in many ways, but they also had more differences than similarities. This just shows the variety of stories there are out there in the world. Comparing two different stories would yield completely different ways of writing. There are just too many ways of writing, but one can bet one thing for sure. There will always be literary devices in a good story and it will always follow a plot.
Courtney from Study Moose
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