This is especially true with short stories because the conflict is introduced so early in the iterary experience. Clugston (2014) states, “In short stories, plot captures your attention from the moment circumstances set conflict in motion” (section 4. 1, “Plot,” para. l). Cluston (2014) goes on to state, “Conflict is the struggle that shapes the plot in a story’ (section 4. 1, “Plot,” Para. 4).
This means that in order for a person to understand a story fully, they must understand all facets of the conflict that is ingrained within the story. Nadine Gordimers short story Country Lovers and Tim O’Brien’s short story The Things They Carried are two pieces of literature that have an abundance f literary wealth that can be used for the exact reasons that were explained above; analysis in order to grasp a deeper underlying lesson or meaning, and life lessons that can be applied toward an individual’s everyday life.
This becomes especially evident when one breaks down the central conflicts in these two stories. Once this is done, the literary picture unfolds and the reader is taken to the place that the author wants them to go. While Country’ Lovers and The Things They Carried both deal with the conflict of individual versus self, Country Lovers also deals with individual versus society.
These conflicts are revealed and resolved in both stories with the help of various literary tools, such as exposition, foreshadowing, and omniscient point of view, but what makes these conflicts that much more poignant and heartbreaking is that these internal and external struggles are fought while having to battle that timeless feelings called love and lust; which many know, can make one feel like the luckiest person in the world or the most damned person to walk the face of the earth.
How The Conflict is Exposed Through Literary Techniques in Country Lovers Nadine Gordimer’s short story Country Lovers uses a number of literary techniques to expose, work through, and resolve the conflict imbedded within this story. The three that will be focused on in this literary analysis are exposition, foreshadowing, and omniscient point of view. Clugston (2014) states that exposition is when the “setting’ is described and that it also makes available the background particulars and presents the main participants in the story (section 4. , “Plot,” Para. 2). This is done masterfully in Country Lovers at the beginning of the story, as shown in this example: This usefully coincides with the age of twelve r thirteen; so that by the time early adolescence is reached, the black children are making along with the bodily changes common to all, an easy transition to adult forms of address, beginning to call their old playmates missus and baasie little master (Gordimer, para. 2).
Not long after this, the main characters are introduced, as shown here, ‘The trouble was Paulus Eysendyck did not seem to realize that Thebedi was now simply one of the crowd of farm children down at the kraal, recognizable in his sisters’ old clothes” (Gordimer, Para. 3). Through the use of the exposition techniques, he background and characters are introduced, but also the beginnings of the individual versus society conflict are starting to be revealed, by showing the pecking order In which everyone lives, and how Paulus doesnt really recognize it.
Foreshadowing is another literary technique that is used in this story. Cluston (2014) states, “Particularly when there is protracted conflict between characters and uncertainty about how it will be resolved, a writer may offer hints about the final outcome” (section 4. 1, “Plot,” par a. 6). Once the various conflicts are revealed in Country Lovers, there are instances n which clues are given to show what may be the unfortunate outcome, as in this example, “He said, “I’ll see what will do. I don’t know. ” And then he said: “l feel like killing myself. ” (Gordimer, Para. 18).
Through this dialogue, the individual versus self conflict is being shown. Paulus is dealing with an internal struggle within himself as to what to do. At the same time, a foreshadowing of the doom that is to come, is being revealed. Omniscient point Of view is yet another literary tool used in this Story in order to aid in conveying the conflict to the reader in a more definite and significant ay. Clugston (2014) states this about the omniscient point of view, “An all- knowing point of view, evident when an external narrator has access to the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in a story’ (section 4. , “Point of View,” para. 5). This means that a story being narrated from this point of view, is able to get across to the readers, the inner thoughts and emotional state of the characters involved in the story. Maxwell (1979) states: The sense in which omniscience is a narrative convention has been well described: “This perfect knowledge is rather that of pervasive presence than that of ranscendent vision. ” The novelist moves through a London of vividly imagined localities in which he knows, and often says, what each of his characters is doing (Para. 2).
Richard Maxwell is describing Dickens use of omniscient point of view in his own storytelling. Like Dickens, Gordimer, in Country Lovers, also uses this literary technique and narrating point of view, in order to further the understanding of the audience, as seen here, “They had not arranged this; it was an urge each followed independently. He knew it was she, from a long way off. She knew that his dog would not bark at her” Gordimer Para. 4). In this example, the narrator is communicating that he or she is aware Of the characters urges and what they knew.
In doing this, the audience is gaining a more complete look inside of the characters that are experiencing various conflict throughout the story. How the Conflict is Exposed Through Literary Techniques in The Things They Carried As stated before, the literary techniques that will be used for this analysis are exposition, foreshadowing, and omniscient point of view. Tim O’Brien’s short story The Things They Carried, does include a large amount of exposition.
At the very beginning of the story, the main character is introduced and a peak at what may contribute to his internal conflict is revealed, as shown here, “In the late afternoon, after a day’s march, he would dig his foxhole, wash his hands under a canteen, unwrap the letters, hold them with the tips of his fingers, and spend the last hour of fight pretending” (O’Brien, Para. 1 The author revealing this, lets the audience know right away that First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is love-struck, and this feeling is starting to take over his thoughts while he is at war.
This again, points to the internal conflict that will be revealed as the story progresses. Exposition is also used when describing the numerous similar and different things that the various men are carrying. Volkmer (1999) states, “Later in the chapter, the list of “things they carried” is enlarged to include the abstract and metaphysical. “They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing” (Para. 5). This too points to the internal conflict that not only First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is dealing with, but the other men who are at war also.
Foreshadowing happens several times within this story. An example of the foreshadowing of the resolution of the First Lieutenant’s conflict is here, “And how, later, when he kissed her. She received the kiss without returning it, her eyes wide open, not afraid, not a virgin’s eyes, just flat and uninvolved” (O’Brien, para. 19). This passage shows how the First Lieutenant is beginning to open his eyes and stop living in a fantasy world. A glimpse of what he must ultimately do to resolve his conflict is being shown.
Omniscient point of view is also used within The Things They Carried. An example of this is here, “Kneeling, watching the hole, he tried to concentrate on Lee Strunk and the war, all the dangers, but his love was too much for him, he felt paralyzed, he wanted to sleep inside her lungs and breathe her blood and be smothered” (O’Brien, Para. 20). This episode is a pivotal moment because it shows just how deep his internal battle with the love of this woman goes. It also shows how it is taking his focus away from the safety of his men, at a time when that focus should be paramount.
All of this information and internal feeling and onflict, could not be conveyed to the audience in such a way, if not for the use of the omniscient point of view. Because the audience is afforded the inner most feelings of the characters in this story, greater perspective in regards to the conflict of the Lieutenant is gained. Both of these Short stories are very good at putting the conflict front and center at a pretty rapid pace. Some stories or poems may be a little harder to figure out when trying to grasp the conflict within the stories, but these stories do not suffer from that particular literary challenge.
This is mainly because both authors are so good at utilizing different literary techniques, including but not limited to the ones that were discussed within this literary analysis. Both authors were also successful in delving into the very real and many times tumultuous, feelings of lust and love, and providing an avenue for readers to see that they are not the only ones who have loved and loss or confused love with lust. This is actually quite compelling, because many times people may feel that when they are experiencing these types of emotions that they are in a sort of black ole that they will never get out of.
On the flip side, many times, when one falls in love, or has a strong lust for someone, it is the only thing they can think about, they lose focus on so many other areas. Both authors delve into these experiences and provide food for thought, for the readers. for the resolution of the conflict in both stories, they were both set into motion by the death of an individual. In a way, the death of the baby in Country Lovers and the death of the soldier in The Things They Carried, symbolized and brought about the death of the love or lust that these ifferent characters had.
That being said, the First Lieutenant in The Things They Carried made more of a choice to let his love and internal struggle go, in order to be a better soldier and leader, While Paulus and Thebedi, were more forced into letting their lust for eachother go, which in a way means that society won, in their battle of individual versus society.