Some have been read to me, and some I have read myself. Many have been told to me, and there are few I have actually experienced. Obviously I do not remember all of them, but the ones that I do remember are in my memory because they had a strong effect on me. Either I had a strong feeling about them, or I could relate to them. Short stories are very different compared to reading a normal book or novel, because the author must condense all of his/her ideas into such few words and sentences.
This brings a mixture of feelings, some very strong into a short amount of time, instead of being spread throughout hundreds of pages. To me, I felt that each of the short stories that we studied stirred up a combination of emotions in me, sometimes from very positive, to very negative, which it why I found this topic to be very interesting. The first short story, ‘Just Like That,’ by Michael Richards, left a negative impact on me. I found the story to be very unsettling and somewhat disturbing.
First of all, the language and phrasing of the story brought a dark, depressing feeling over me. The first word of the story is ‘dead. ‘ This immediately gave me a negative feeling, and I knew that this was not going to be a cheerful, positive story. Throughout the whole story, the phrase, “dead, just like that,” was repeated over and over again, repeating the depressing feeling over and over again, and the tone in which the it was said, was very heartless and cold. But even furthermore, the character of the man disturbed and even kind of angered me.
He was cruel, and merciless towards the kangaroos. This was shown by his actions. The way he treated the kangaroos brought up some anger in me because he had no regard for another living creature, although not human. It seemed like he treated them like toys, there for his disturbing pleasure. The phrases that the author used really made me cringe, being able to imagine the pain that I would feel if that happened to me. Phrases like, ‘he poked its belly,’ and ‘he dropped it so it fell like raw meat,’ made me glower.
His actions never seemed to be positive, but always negative, making me despise him more and more as the story went on. To make these feelings even worse, the actions of the man got even more unsettling as well, as the story went on. The author used more gruesome phrases like, ‘the man kicked the doe in the stomach,’ and ‘he kicked its head,’ to really push, and emphasize his inhumane character. Even farther on, he used the phrase, ‘he kicked its face,’ which I think was really the climax, the limit to how far this could go.
When I heard, ‘he kicked his head,’ I felt very disturbed already. But when I heard, ‘he kicked his face,’ I felt even more horrible inside because I could imagine the pain, and it was just more brutal. Also, the sentence, ‘he watched while the man strolled among the cripples blessing each with his wand. ‘ It was a very unique, sentence to pick for an act such as this. It put two pictures in my mind. The word ‘blessing’ brought a sense of a very good, lucky, pure and holy act. The word ‘wand,’ made it very fairy-tale like.
Put together, I had a picture of a fairy going around tapping the kangaroos with her wand, giving them something better. But, what the author really meant with the word ‘blessing,’ and shooting, and the ‘wand,’ was his gun. These two opposite emotions in this sentence really accentuated it, and this image, along with the sentence stayed in my mind. The other character in the story, the boy didn’t have as much of an impact on me as the man did because he acted like a normal young boy would in this kind of situation. I felt as though he was in the story to make the character of the man seem even worse.
For example, if the man was hunting with another man, his friend, and they both did those actions, I would still feel disgusted and shocked by their actions, but instead, the author chose a boy. He chose a young, innocent boy, who would still cry over things. The personality of these two characters was almost completely opposite, which accentuated the ruthless character of the man even further than what it would have been with another character. Another way of drawing the attention to the negative character of the man was by using the kangaroos.
He also made the kangaroos look so innocent, even more innocent than the boy, with phrases like, ‘curled like small hands,’ and ‘lifted its head to caress the boy with its large limped eyes. ‘ This made the acts of the man and even the boy, seem cruel and emphasized their character. Lastly, unlike most stories that end with a good ending, this one kept its dark, depressing mood throughout, until the last word, which was the same as the first word, ‘dead. ‘ This kept me in the same negative mood, but also kept me curious and wondering at the same time.
I wanted to know if the boy actually shot the man or not, but I guess that’s part of the reason why the author kept it that way. The second story that made an impact on me, was the story, ‘Teach Me to Dance,’ by Kerryn Goldsworthy. Unlike, ‘Just Like That,’ I enjoyed this story very much because it was positive, I could relate to it, and nobody died. The atmosphere throughout the whole story was very light-hearted and eventful. It started out good and ended every better, which made me feel kind of cheerful in the end.
But the main reason why I enjoyed this story was because I could relate to it. In ‘Just Like That,’ I couldn’t relate to it, but in this one, I felt as though someone was writing out my thoughts. In the beginning paragraph, the business of the words really seemed to capture the life of a teenager, and the way the characters acted, nai?? ve and carefree. I liked the sentences in the second paragraph, ‘Helen danced down the red carpet slope of the centre aisle in the dim light. Julie and I sat in our sears and watched. ‘ When I heard this, I felt like it described how teenagers act very well.
Some are the leaders, who don’t care what people think and do whatever they want, while other are in that group, but just watch and not do any crazy things. The paragraphs about uniforms, school life and social life, were my favourite parts, and brought a smile to my face because some of it was actually true! The parts about changing yourself to want to fit in, even if it was totally ridiculous, and the phrase, ‘as you kept reminding your mother. ‘ I felt that this described how teenagers always thought that their parents were so ‘old’ and ‘out of style.
But the thing I found especially true (more in my old school, than now), was the sentence, ‘At school the idea was to get good marks, but not too good, and without appearing to do any work. ‘ That entire paragraph was also relevant to me, and made me enjoy the story even more. These two stories, although I felt totally different emotions for each, had the most effect on me. This was because I had a very strong feeling about one, and could relate to the other very well. One, I found very enjoyable and amusing, while the other one, I found disturbing and unsetlling.