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Home » Uncategorized » Narrative Structure in Mark Twain’s Short Stories versus Kate Chopin’s Short Stories

Narrative Structure in Mark Twain’s Short Stories versus Kate Chopin’s Short Stories

The first example of comparing and contrasting Mark Twain’s short stories with Kate Chopin’s will be Kate Chopin’s “The Lillies” with Mark Twain’s “The Story of the Bad Little Boy”. The reason behind me choosing these two specific stories rather than one of the varieties of other stories is one of the first comparisons. One of the main characters in “The Lillies” is mischievous troublemaker Mamouche and Mark Twain’s “The Story of the Bad Little Boy” is ironically centered on the actions of a mischievous troublemaker. The story opens up direct and straightforward so that the reader knows what’s going on, similarly to the narrative structure of Kate Chopin. However, the feel of sarcasm and mockery is much louder and obvious in Mark Twain’s “The Story of the Bad Little Boy” than Kate Chopin’s “The Lillies” or any of Kate Chopin’s short stories for that matter. While Kate Chopin dwindles around the idea of sarcasm or mockery, if and when she does use it which is rare, its barely for more than a few lines. Meanwhile, Twain dilly dallies and stretches out his stay on sarcasm and mockery as he keeps on with it for the remainder of the story talking about the irony behind bad boys getting away with bad deeds. This isn’t an unusual style of narrative structure for him as he does it in most of his other stories as well. “The Story of the Bad Little Boy” keeps up with it’s sarcasm and mockery through a third person point of view having no need to exit it as he is describing how bad little boys don’t always get the punishment they so rightfully deserved, which is ironically the case for Mamouche in “The Lillies”. It is almost as if in this case, Twain is a louder, more opinionated and cynical version of Chopin that Chopin didn’t have the personality or even the gall to write.

The second example of comparing and contrasting Mark Twain’s short stories with Kate Chopin’s will be Kate Chopin’s “La Belle Zoraide” and Mark Twain’s “Extracts from Adam’s Diary”. At first glance these two stories seem very different, but their narrative structures do not differ very much from one another. “La Belle Zoraide” is a story about a slave who is forced to marry someone she didn’t love and have his child, then is told that the child dies thus sending her into a pit of insanity and love a pile of rags as a coping mechanism to deal with the loss of her child rather than accept the fact that she’s dead. Later she finds out her child never died as her owner deceived her, but she doesn’t believe it as her mind has already been sickened enough and chooses to continue to love her pile of rags. “Extracts from Adam’s Diary” is about a man, the first man ever created, learning to understand the new world and more importantly a new being who is pushing herself into his life; Eve. He has difficulty in trying to accept her in his life and even tries to run away until basically in the end when they are both punished to live on the earth he feels he might as well just be with her now. Both stories involve a much closer look into the thoughts, thinking, emotions, and understanding of the main character. However, once again, Twain delves deeper than Chopin as “Extracts from Adam’s Diary” is from the point of view of Adam himself and only focuses on his thoughts and emotions. That is why another story, “Eve’s Diary, was written by Twain detailing everything that Adam missed like another piece of the puzzle to make the story make more sense. Meanwhile, “La Belle Zoraide” is in a third person point of view that oversees every character’s feelings and thoughts but focuses more on La Belle Zoraide more but helps the reader be fully encumbered and understanding of the story they are involved in.

Regarding Lodge’s ideology of narrative structure on “Extracts from Adam’s Diary” and “The Story of the Bad Little Boy” go back to the style of writing Mark twain usually uses. The settings are very different with “The Story of the Bad Little Boy” being set around the same time as Twain somewhere in the late 1800’s in numerous locations each describing Jim’s sinful actions. The language used throughout the story was punctual and satirical, even mocking. Twain goes on about how many sins Jim commits but never gets prosecuted for and sarcastically says that according to the Sunday school stories, little Jim should’ve been in trouble ages ago. The theme was heavily satirical and sarcastic. Twain mocks the Sunday school stories bitterly as in his point of view they aren’t true and bad people are more than capable of getting away with everything. The narrative structure was also very direct and to the point when it came to the content and plot of the story, but dwindled longer and longer as Twain would mock the situation.

Meanwhile, “Extracts from Adam’s Diary” was looked at in a much different fashion as it followed the first person adventure of Adam in the new world and how he found this new creature, Eve, to be annoying and clingy. The setting is most likely Paradise or the Garden of Eden. The language was by Adam to himself and in diary form. Adam speaks to the reader as he would to himself and displays his thoughts, ideas, and questions out to the reader openly. The theme that I understood from reading it was that Adam’s diary is a reflection of the beginning of the human race and how Adam and Eve had built it together and the obstacles he overcame along the way. Something else regarding the narrative structure was how Twain built the story and Adam’s point of view as just that; his point of view. There is little to no mention of anything outside of Adam’s mind and what he perceives until we read “Eve’s diary” and basically see everything that Adam missed. Which is interesting as to how Twain structured it into that egotistical “man” type of thinking as if saying “you men think you know it all but here’s a whole other side of the situation you chose to not pay attention to.” which is again, classic Mark Twain satire.



1 Comment

  1. hawks389 says:

    The narrative structures of both authors is similar in a way that they start with descriptions of their characters and settings in some stories to give their readers a sense of being in perspective of the protagonist. The similar style is easily readable and gives the reader the ability to relate to the characters and the story in a real life experience. The structure is well thought out to convey a message to the readers in which they may understand the message the author is hinting at through their passages.

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