In Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace" and Toni Morrison's "Recitatif," materialism and the desire to be envied are vital ingredients in the themes of the stories. Both authors enhance their themes through the manipulation of plot and the use of women as their central characters. Maupassant and Morrison prove the notion that women are effective characters in depicting themes that deal with the social issue of craving material wealth.
The theme of these stories can be determined through an analysis of the narrator's attitude toward the characters in each story. The narrator in "The Necklace" reflects a disapproving opinion of Mathilde. He believes that Mathilde is snobby and too concerned with her social image: "She suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born for all the delicacies and all the luxuries. She suffered from the poverty of her dwelling, from the wretched look of the walls, from the worn-out chairs, from the ugliness of the curtains" (66). Through this description of her personality, the narrator illustrates his notion that Mathilde feels that she deserves a wealthier, upper class existence. The narrator also exhibits his beliefs in stating, "She had no dresses, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but that. She felt made for that. She would so have liked to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after" (63). In these sentences, the narrator reveals his ideas about Mathilde and her concern for the way others view her.
The narrator of "Recitatif" does not expose his attitude toward Roberta as obviously as the narrator of "The Necklace." In "Recitatif," the narrator suggests that Roberta is obsessed with ma...
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...terialistic desires that Mathilde expresses. Therefore, Mathilde is more beneficial to the development of the theme than her husband.
Maupassant and Morrison convey their themes of social acceptance and materialistic longings through the narrators' attitudes and develop these themes through the manipulation of plot. To maximize the effect of the themes, Maupassant and Morrison present them through female characters with an inherent desire for others to covet them and an attraction to materialistic wealth.
Maupassant, Guy de. "The Necklace." Understanding Fiction. 3rd ed. Eds. Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1979. 66-72.
Morrison, Toni. "Recitatif." New World of Literature: Writing From America's Many Cultures. 2nd ed. Eds. Jerome Beaty and J. Paul Hunter. New York: Norton, 1994. 210-225.
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