American Literature Exercise 5.1B: Suspense Essay

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American Literature

Exercise 5.1B: Suspense

The author, John Hersey, manages to create suspense by simply revealing what the deadly, life-altering events that were going to occur were. By providing details about this catastrophic immediate future that waited everyone, the reader gets a sense of suspense just reading about what people were doing just moments before the event actually occurred. The author's style of writing, that is, his mention of everyone's typical daily events in the order that they were presented, one right after the other, makes the reader sympathize with the characters. Once one has in mind what they were doing, it is kind of like not wanting anything to occur to them, even though in the end, one knows the experience that they are about to go through. After describing the individual's normal daily events, the author then repeats what it is that occurs, and all the death that is soon to come.

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However, adding on to this sense of suspense, the reader is left questioning how exactly was it that people felt. How did this alter their life for the worse? What was their life like immediately after the events occurred? And most of all, how could this all have been avoided? After reading the very beginning without even getting too into details about the remainder of the occurrence, one is left with these immediate questions of suspense as the reader attempts to find answers to unanswerable questions. Knowing the lives of these individuals just moments before they would survive one of the deadliest attacks in the world adds on to the suspense itself, and the author does attempt to answer these questions in the remainder of the excerpt, although one is still left wanting to know more. At this point, it is not about the broad events that occurred; it is about the details of an event that changed the world. It is this in itself that creates the sense of suspense and the sense of wanting to know more that the author provides the readers with in this excerpt.

Exercise 5.2B: Comparing Texts

TOPIC: Essay on American Literature Exercise 5.1B: Suspense the Author, Assignment

Both Barthelme's and Auden's poem talk about a time where their freedom has been taken away. In the characters presented in each individual poem, they are living a life of monotony but in very different ways. They are not living in the same world per se, when it comes to the physicality of where they are each located and what they are physically going through, but they are living the same existence of having to do things because they have a moral and civic obligation to do so. Barthelme describes time of war where his two characters are going through what most young men of that present era had to go through. They had to fight in world conflicts in order to fulfill their national duty. Auden's character however, is currently living the suburban lifestyle that every man should have been living during that era. They are not physically attached to each other in relations of the world that they are living in, but they are metaphysically tied to each other by the lifestyle that seems obligated to live by.

This then leads to the question of freedom. The freedom of both of these characters has been taken away from them by leading lives that they had to lead just because it seemed like the right thing to do. No mention of choosing this lifestyle was brought up in either poem signifying their desire to lead these repetitive, individual lifestyles. Instead, they are living their individual lives because society expects them to. Barthelme's character has gone to war because it is his obligation as an American citizen, while Auden's character lives his life the way he does because he "should." That is what is expected of each character at the time, and this leaves very little room for any type of freedom of choice. I do not agree with the type of world that they are living in because it is their lives that are being affected right now for the satisfaction of a societal expectation. By living life for an entire society, they are giving up living life for themselves and what it is that they would feel like doing. This limitation on the power of choice and the power of freedom is something that I would not be able to live with.

Exercise 5.3B: Monologue

How can she make me choose? Who does she think she is? Well, I'm leaving, I don't care what she says; Carl and I had planned this trip and I am going. I can't believe she made me choose between my own family. What wife does that? I'm going to this trip regardless of what she says. She will be over it by the time that I get back and then everything will go back to normal. It's not like the baby is really sick or anything, she's fine... But then, what if she's not? What if something is seriously wrong with her and I am not here to help my wife and my daughter out when they need it most. This hunting trip is pretty far away and I won't be able to come back soon if something does happen. What will they do then without me? How can I leave my family alone knowing that they will need me? What type of husband and father does that? I've never had this big of a fight with my wife. She is so understanding all of the time, and she rarely gets this upset unless she really feels passionate about something. I will go upstairs. Carl did give me the opportunity to get out, but this trip could be taken at any other time. My wife and daughter need me right now, and it is them who I should value over some simple trip that can be taken at any other time. I would never be able to forgive myself if something were to happen to my daughter and my wife and I wasn't there to do anything about it. It would just kill me. I will be the great husband and father that I know I am, and I will go upstairs with my family. It is them who I care about most in this world anyway.

Exercise 5.4B: Interpreting Theme

Greiner's statement says a lot about the essence behind this story. So much love is wanted and so much attention is needed, yet everything that seems to be prevailing is dissatisfaction and lack of love from all directions. According to this story, loss is inevitable. It is what life is all about. From losing the self into something that is not wanted, such as the narrator's father in his teaching and his loss of power to his wife, or the loss of the narrator's son in his teenage years, loss is something that cannot be avoided in any aspect of life. It is this same discontent that can be attained when it comes to figuring out what love truly is. Although love seems to be something that each character introduced by the narrator is actually looking for, it seems to be hard to come across. This relates to the trials and tribulations that the author, Updike, went through himself. It is through his life experiences that the reality of this piece comes from.

The "contact barely reached" is the love that the narrator is constantly looking for. His feeling of loss and disappointment seem to be more prevalent than his receipt of love and care. But love does appear in this piece. The narrator states, "They had been happy there; I imagined, indeed, that I had been conceived there" (Updike p.1073). This line speaks about a past where happiness was present, where at the place that his parents used to call home, there had been some sort of enjoyment, some fulfillment with life that made the day-to-day life worth living. This story says a lot about the search for love, and the constant encounter with loss that everyone faces in life. It provides the symbolism needed to get through things everyday.

Exercise 5.5B: Creative Writing

Teachers are the everyday heroes that one finds when looking for an individual to admire. It is because of the strength that teachers give to their students that they could be called upon in times of need. Despite the obstacles that they face, regardless of the turmoils that may be presented to them, they overcome it all in order to present the solutions to the challenges that students everywhere face. On Teacher's Day, we must honor those whom we truly believe in. We must bring truth to something that can remain hidden if not put out into the open. We must truly embrace the essence that teachers bring everyday to each and every one of their students. This is something that must never be ignored.

Teachers need to stop being ignored for they have brought everything that they can… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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American Literature Exercise 5.1B: Suspense.  (2011, October 9).  Retrieved August 3, 2021, from

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"American Literature Exercise 5.1B: Suspense."  9 October 2011.  Web.  3 August 2021. <>.

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"American Literature Exercise 5.1B: Suspense."  October 9, 2011.  Accessed August 3, 2021.