Chance (or coincidence) has an ambiguous role in the outcome of
different situations; it can work in or against one’s favour. As in
real life, chance in literature has considerable influence on the
circumstances of the characters and where those circumstances lead.
In two particular literary works, Roman Fever and A Small, Good Thing,
chance happenings have grave results on the lives of the characters
concerned. In Roman Fever, old friends meet by chance and reveal
disturbing secrets about the past; while in A Small, Good Thing a boy
is injured on his birthday placing his parents in a desperate
situation. Although chance generally seems to go unnoticed—a
spontaneous purchase of candles, followed by a power failure—the
impact it makes is often not so subtle.
Edith Wharton, author of Roman Fever, depicts two upper class women
friends; one, Mrs. Slade, fiercely jealous of the other and the other,
Mrs. Ansley, pitiful of her childhood friend. The depiction is real
in that it epitomizes the American upper class wife—responsibilities
include making the husband happy and entertaining his guests; a
typical day may consists of shopping, lunch and the exchange of
rumours with the other wives of other rich husbands; in essence, they
waste away the time until the rich husband arrives home from work or
until he makes a request. Mrs. Slade, in reflection, felt “a certain
conjugal pride” about being such a wife (Wharton, 84). The most
prominent aspect of such individuals presented by Wharton is the limit
in which they will endeavour to undermine even a supposed friend to
achieve an end, generally the richest husband. And, of course, with
such rules of play, one needs all the ...
... middle of paper ...
Thing, while its effects were tragic; it also had a few positive
implications. However, the same aspect of chance holds true in both
cases: though its effects rarely go unnoticed, its role in events
almost always do. If it were at all anticipatory Alida would have
pondered the possibility of Grace responding to the letter and Ann
would have dropped her son at school that day. Indeed, if chance were
predictable it would loose its very nature; its swaying force would be
futile and life would go on otherwise unruffled.
Carver, Raymond. “A Small, Good Thing.” A Pocket Anthology: Third
Ed. R.S. Gwynn. New York: Longman, 2002. 304-326.
“Chance.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:
Fourth Ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. www.atomica.com.
Wharton, Edith. “Roman Fever.” A Pocket Anthology: Third Ed. 81-93.
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