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The Impact of Titles

The Title: Lodge’s Ideas applied to Kate Chopin’s short stories

David Lodge begins his perspective on titles by stating that “The Title of the novel is part of the text.” It is the first part of the text that we encounter; it’s what draws us in and has the ability to “attract and condition the reader’s attention.” In Kate Chopin’s short stories, many of the titles are intriguing and create a picture in the reader’s mind before they even begin to read the text. Subconsciously, the reader begins to make assumptions about the text and once they have finished reading, there is always an attempt to understand how the title connects with the text. For example, in Kate Chopin’s Beyond the Bayou, the reader automatically assumes that there is something beyond the bayou that is unappealing to the main character. As Lodge said, “titles could indicate a theme . . . promise a certain kind of setting and atmosphere . . .” It is evident through the title that the main character will struggle with a problem and will have to go beyond it. The text then brings meaning to the title. Beyond refers to what is unknown to the character and represents the limits of individual experience and the Bayou is the watery land (marsh) on which the main character, La Folle, resides. Titles can also be symbolic or metaphorical titles. In Kate Chopin’s Dead Man’s Shoes, the main character Gilma, doesn’t have to literally ‘fill’ the dead man’s shoes, the dead man being his deceased master “le vieux Gamiche.” Metaphorically speaking, Gilma had to “fill the dead man’s shoes” by becoming the master of the land that le vieux Gamiche had left in his name. The titles have an impact on the reader and according to Lodge, “bring into sharper focus of what the novel is about.” Kate Chopin was able to bring to focus the main points of her stories through the use of the titles.


4 Comments

  1. hmahmoud11 says:

    I agree with Lodge and the point you are making. In almost all of Chopin’s stories that we read, the title gives some sort of an insight of the story, and can even be ironic at times, such as “La Belle Zoraide”. Belle in French means beautiful, so this title immediately makes you think of a beautiful story about a girl named Zoraide, however the story is anything but beautiful. Beauty enabled Zoraide to live a relaxed life growing up but she had no control over her life due to her beauty, as she was forbidden from marrying the man she loved, and eventually her beauty led her to tragedy.

  2. lojains says:

    I agree on your statement on how the reader subconsciously assumes what the story is about when they first read the title, and still tries figure out the meaning after finishing the book. I think we’ve all been through that cycle befoe of trying to make meaning of the title, the title gives us a sneak peak of the story which why it’s so important for the title to be interesting and intriguing.

  3. hawks389 says:

    Titles are used to give an overview of what the story may be focusing on. They may contain no more than a word but relate greatly to the writing of the author. The reader may have a different perspective of the title before and after reading the writing of the author. This may change their own perspectives and views and does indeed play a major role in the readers understanding and overall thought. Though I disagree to the title of Beyond the Bayou being assumed as an unappealing character I only show evidence to my point that each reader will have a different interpretation of the author’s title and work.

  4. sbeheri98 says:

    I see what you mean by what you’re saying and agree with what Lodge meant by the impact of titles. The first thing we see before anything when it comes to literature is the title of the piece of literature we are looking at. With it, comes a somewhat kettle of a variety of ideas and thoughts overflowing from our minds as to what this title means in correlation to the story itself. At times, it frustrates and confuses us while at other times it pulls us into the story with curiosity and fascination. A perfect example of this and in light of her recent death is Harper Lee’s famous classic, To Kill A Mockingbird.

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