Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Short Stories from Stories of Ourselves Summary

This is just a brief plot summary of what happens in 5 of the short stories found in Stories of Ourselves. This is by no means precise but exists to provide brief happenings in each of the short stories. Below a few, you can find a more detailed analysis or an essay relating to a topic on each short story.

1) The Son's Veto - Thomas Hardy (pg. 46)
Sophy, a young woman, twists her ankle, rendering her with a life-long injury, whilst being a house servant to a vicar, Mr Twycott. She accepts the vicar's marriage proposal after refusing to marry a young man, Sam Hobson, of the same station as her. The vicar marries her, his house keeper, and they move to London due to the social implications of marriage between different classes.

In London, after Mr Twycott passes away, their well educated son starts to distinguish his mother's flaws due to her 'improper' education. She grows lonely as her son is away at boarding school and she is unable to venture into the world due to her crippling ankle. One day, she meets her former love interest, Sam. They rekindle their friendship and love and she longs to move away with him back to their childhood village. The son, Randolph, wanting to become a priest because of its title and social rank, vetoed his mother's courting with Sam since he perceives that this romance with a grocer, Sam, would impact his ambitions negatively.
Essay question on a key topic found in The Son's Veto

2) Her First Ball - Katherine Mansfield (pg. 103)
Leila, a young woman arrives in the city from the country for her first ball. The ball is magical, majestic and beautiful, captivating this young woman. She dances and eventually dances with an old, fat man. He shows her the repetitiveness and eventual predictability that her life will amount to. He shows her the harsh truth and effectively he portrays the difference between ages and the author highlight the predictability and eventual drab sense of youth vs experience. Leila, emotionally moved by the enlightening conversation with the old man, leaves to go outside but on her way she dances with a young, attractive man and she quickly forgets the whole conversation with the old man.

3) The Fly in the Ointment - V.S. Pritchett (pg. 112)
This story starts with a young man visiting his bankrupt father, who lost his business amidst scandal. The father is disappointed with his son's profession. The son is worried about his father as he is bankrupt and has lost his life's work. Everything seems alright with the father being strong and accepting of his predicament until a fly enters the room and the father over-reacts to its presence.
The father states he has no need of money and his show of weakness to the fly perhaps is the reason why the son offers his father money. The father then brutally demands why this offer was not forthcoming.
Detailed analysis providing you with need-to-know information

4) The Destructors - Graham Greene (pg. 160)
The author uses this story to teach the reader about the destructive element present is human nature. Basically this story involves a group of teenage delinquents that make up a gang that are involved in counter-productive activities. They grow up in blitzed London, and a new member, T, takes over the leadership from Blackie. They plot to destroy the only house in a parking lot that survived a bombing. This beautiful old house, Old Misery's, appears to be destroyed purely because it is beautiful. This short story is rather comical in its description of both the events as well as the owner's reaction to the destruction of his house. It also highlights the shifting power with a dynamic group as well as the social implications that post-war London has on the youth.
Further analysis on the Destructors that I wrote about previously

5) A Horse and Two Goats (pg. 238)
This short story is about a poor, unlucky (to the point of being perceived as cursed) Indian man, Muni, living in rural India. One day, upon taking his depleted group on animals to graze, he meets an American tourist. Neither can converse in the other's tongue and they therefore comically project their own culture onto the other. This is show as the American man wants to buy an old, religious village statue and attempts to buy it even though it is not Muni's to sell. Muni thinks the American wants to know the statue's history (as that was what Indian people were concerned with) and he progresses to tell him, eventually he thinks that the American wants to buy something, namely his last two goats. Muni leaves thinking he has just sold his goats but the American thinks he has just bought the statue and  after Muni has gone, he takes it. This short story comically highlights the ethnocentrism of the characters and shows the vast difference between the two cultures represented by the values the men hold most dear.
A brief essay styled question on this short story

Check out my next brief summary of a further 5 short stories.

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