I am looking at three short stories, by kiwi female writers, to see how they tell us of the time they are writing from. The first is The Yard Broom by Charlotte Grimshaw is a modern story of transition. The Glass House, by J. C. Sturm, which although not published until 2006 speaks of an early time and was probably written sometime between the late 1950s to the mid 1970s, and Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party written in 1921, a time of post war economic surge.
The Yard Broom is a grim and stark story of a young woman’s path to adulthood. It is in first person and the tone is depressed, giving us an idea of the woman’s lack of hope for a future. The language is cut back and modern, giving only giving bare facts, this shown in the way she describes herself.
“I was nineteen, with blond hair and blue eyes. I wore a filthy sleeveless reflector jacket over shorts and a T-shirt, and heavy boots with short, thick socks.”
There are social issues that affect a large part of the population. Poverty and a social underclass along with its associated issues of child neglect, domestic violence and drugs - mainly marijuana and P.
It also looks at how a person with a good life can turn to crime and deceit. This is explored as she develops a friendship with a pastor she meets. He spends a lot of time telling her ...
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“Stop the garden-party? My dear Laura, don’t be so absurd. Of course we can’t do anything of the kind. Nobody expects us to. Don’t be so extravagant.”
There is also a strong class distinction that doesn’t exist today; the baize door, the villagers living too close and casual disregard of the servants, which would today be unthinkable in all but the most snobbish of families.
In conclusion each writer is able to tap into a time period because they live in it; they use words and phrases that are not used in another time period. Each writer tells us of their time, the social issues of it and how people dealt with them.
The short stories are time capsules, allowing us to see other worlds in time and place even if they take place in our own country.
Katherine Mansfield. the Garden Party
Charlotte Grimshaw. the Yard Broom
J.C. Strum. The Glass House
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