A change of perspective

“One day James Herbert came to where his wife and daughter lived, and he was furious.
“Where’s that Melanctha girl of yours,” he said fiercely, “if she is to the Bishops’ stables again, with that man John, I swear I kill her. Why don’t you see to that girl better you, you’re her mother”” 51

“The next day he came to where his wife and daughter lived and was furious.
“Where’s that Malanchta, of yours?” he said to his wife, when he saw her. “If she is to the Bishops’ stables now with that yellow John, I swear I kill her. A nice way she is going for a decent daughter. Why don’t you see to that girl better you, ain’t you her mother?”” 53

I decided to use these very similar extracts because I thought it was interesting that given what the reader knows, an identical excerpt can hold a different meaning. In the first one, the author doesn’t elaborate on the event. We sense a conversation full of tension (“furious”, “fiercely”) but the actual subject isn’t unveiled. In the second extract, the same exchange is told, but by now the reader knows about the fight between John and James. Therefore, Stein adds details to the story (e.g. “A nice way she is going for a decent daughter.”). Both passages have the same style though, imitating the dialect of this “James Herbet” who is granted by a lot of description throughout the beginning of the story.

Leave a Reply