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The Use Of Force And Visit Of Charity English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1482 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Traditionally, short stories convey the author’s message clearly and precisely but often their stylistic and artistic richness is underestimated. In this regard, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the stylistic devices and artistic details used in short stories are often diverse and contribute consistently to the improvement of the presentation of short stories by writers. At this point, it is possible to refer to “The Use of Force” by William Carlos Williams and “A Visit of Charity” by Eudora Welty. In fact, the aforementioned two short stories are written by different authors that make them quite different but, at the same time, it is possible to trace some similarities in terms of setting and themes of the short stories. In such a way, both short stories have certain similarities due to the use of the similar stylistic devices and, probably, due to the attempt of both authors to convey the similar mood, but, on the other hand, the stories are quite different because writers conveyed their original ideas and messages and used their own original style.

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In fact, the similarity between short stories can be traced from the depiction of the setting in which the action of the short stories take place. In fact, speaking about the setting of “A Visit of Charity” by Eudora Welty, it is possible to point out the fact that the main character of the short story, Marian, visits quite a gloomy place. Not only does the ugly building resemble a “block of ice” in the harsh winter sunlight, but the “prickly dark shrubs” planted in front of the building suggest barbed wire. In fact, it seems as if she is attending a place where outcasts live but she only visits a retirement home. At the same time, the author creates the setting which is gloomy and quite depressing.

At this point, the beginning and setting of “The Use of Force” by William Carlos Williams is, to a significant extent, similar because the main character of the story, the narrator, the doctor, attends the house which is quite unfriendly, if not to say hostile. In fact, from the very beginning the doctor points out that the place is quite strange and gloomy:

When I arrived I was met by the mother, a big startled looking woman, very clean and apologetic who merely said, Is this the doctor? and let me in. In the back, she added. You must excuse us, doctor, we have her in the kitchen where it is warm. It is very damp here sometimes (Williams, 115).

In such a way, the author creates quite a gloomy setting, where the doctor is met with suspicions instead of expectations and hopes, which people normally have when they are waiting for a doctor, especially in cases when they need their child to recover. However, when the doctor encounters the child, the setting grows even more gloomy and unfriendly:

The child was fully dressed and sitting on her father’s lap near the kitchen table. He tried to get up, but I motioned for him not to bother, took off my overcoat and started to look things over. I could see that they were all very nervous, eyeing me up and down distrustfully. As often, in such cases, they weren’t telling me more than they had to, it was up to me to tell them; that’s why they were spending three dollars on me (Williams, 115).

Obviously, the setting of both short stories is similar but Williams brings in certain feeling of hidden expectations and hopes for better, whereas Welty creates quite a gloomy setting, where the depression of the main characters can be felt easily. In fact, parents of the girl do have some positive expectations:

The father tried his best, and he was a big man but the fact that she was his daughter, his shame at her behavior and his dread of hurting her made him release her just at the critical times when I had almost achieved success, till I wanted to kill him. (Williams, 116). 

And hopes of parents were backed up by the sincere desire of the doctor to help to the child, whatever the opposition from the part of the child was. At first, the setting grows more and more aggressive as the child simply attacks the doctor as a dangerous enemy:

As I moved my chair a little nearer suddenly with one catlike movement both her hands clawed instinctively for my eyes and she almost reached them too. In fact she knocked my glasses flying and they fell, though unbroken, several feet away from me on the kitchen floor (Williams, 116).

The child is really furious and fixed upon her thoughts. The setting is quite strange and the main character feels some danger and problem the child prevents him from solving and elimination. The child uses all her forces on the preservation of her secret: “Even her expression hadn’t changed. Her breaths however were coming faster and faster. Then the battle began. I had to do it. I had to have a throat culture for her own protection” (Williams, 116). 

Nevertheless, the gloomy setting confronts the ongoing efforts of the doctor to help the child:

But I have seen at least two children lying dead in bed of neglect in such cases, and feeling that I must get a diagnosis now or never I went at it again. But the worst of it was that I too had got beyond reason. I could have torn the child apart in my own fury and enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to attack her. My face was burning with it. (Williams, 116).

This attempt of the doctor to help the child makes the short story’s setting different from the setting created by Welty, because Marian cannot help people she sees in the retirement home. Instead of use of force for saving the life and health of other people, Marian feels her weakness and isolation.

By the way, the isolation is the central theme of “A Visit of Charity” because the main character feels her loneliness and isolation. The opening paragraph of the short story implies the isolation of the main character:

It was mid-morning-a cold, bright day. Holding a potted plant before her, a girl of fourteen jumped off the bus in front of the Old Ladies’ Home, on the outskirts of town. She wore a red coat, and her straight yellow hair was hanging down loose from the pointed white cap all the little girls were wearing that year. She stopped for a moment beside one of the prickly dark shrubs with which the city had beautified the Home, and then proceeded slowly toward the building, which was of whitewashed brick and reflected the winter sunlight like a block of ice. As she walked vaguely up the steps she shifted the small pot from hand to hand; then she had to set it down and remove her mittens before she could open the heavy door. (Welty, 98).

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The theme of isolation is developed further in the course of the short-story as Marian attends the retirement home. She proves to be ill-prepared for and blithely ignorant of the devastation of old age, of failing health, of loneliness and death, all of which are symbolized and foreshadowed in this opening passage by the image of a monolithic retirement home which Welty conjures as a kind of sinister internment camp.

The theme of “The Use of Force” is quite different because, instead of isolation the author shows how this isolation is breaking through by the doctor, who wants to help the child. Therefore, Welty shows the isolation of the main character and loneliness of people she describes in her short stories, whereas Williams shows that people cannot live in isolation and there is always someone, who wants to help people, who are in isolation.

In spite of the difference of the theme, both short stories use quite similar language. The language of both short stories is simple and comprehensible. In fact, the authors attempt to make it closer to the language of children because the short stories depict children, who apparently have some problems. In such a context, the use of a simple language is quite effective because it makes short stories more realistic and close to the real life.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that both short stories, “The Use of Force” by William Carlos Williams and “A Visit of Charity| by Eudora Welty, have both similarities and differences. The similarities between both short stories can be traced in the gloomy setting and simple, close to the colloquial language. As for differences, they can be partially traced in setting, which is more hostile and conflicting in “The Use of Force”, and in themes for the isolation is the main theme of “A Visit of Charity”, whereas the main theme of “The Use of Force” is the theme of helping people and mutual help of people to each other.


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