Let?s Give ?Em Something to Talk About
Writing is a rare talent that belongs only to few. Authors can make us cry, they can make us laugh, they can make us angry, they can create fright, and they can create suspense. This simple language that we use everyday, writers can put together to make a fascinating puzzle for us to look at. This fascination is true for such stories as ?A Clean Well-Lighted Place,? by Ernest Hemingway, and ?Barn Burning,? by William Faulkner. Similarly, both of these writers depend on personal experience to create their own unique style seen in most of their works. Hemingway generally writes stories that take place in Europe, where he spent most of his time in Italy and France. Faulkner typically writes about Mississippi, where he spent the majority of his life. The fast paced European scene as compared to the slow country scene of Mississippi could be a factor in the style and tone that Hemingway and Faulkner have adopted. ?A Clean Well-Lighted Place? and ?Barn Burning? are typical uses of drastically different tone and style especially when examining the character?s dialog.
When reading a story, a great way to get a feeling for the writer?s style is through the character?s speech. In ?A Clean, Well-Lighted Place? Hemingway uses dialog to create a conversation-like style. The dialog is short and choppy, just as a conversation would be between two people talking out loud. With this, he produces a style that has a rapid rhythm that reads quickly and can show a character?s personality by what he or she says. When in the caf?, the two waiters are conversing about the old man; ??Last week he tried to commit suicide,? one waiter said. ?Why?? ?He was in despair.? ?What about?? ?Nothing.? ?How do you know it was nothing?? ?He has plenty of money.?? Here the reader can see the short conversational style that this passage depicts.
On the other hand, in ?Barn Burning,? Faulkner uses his dialog to lead into the thoughts and actions of the character. From his style of writing, the reader cannot determine the personality of the characters by the dialog alone. It seems as if Faulkner uses the dialog to set up what actions a character is about to take or to use it as a lead for a paragraph on what the character is thinking. When Sarty?s dad is on trial for a burned barn the judge says to Sarty, ??Talk louder. Colonel Sartoris? I reckon anybody named for Colonel Sartoris in this country can?t help but tell the truth, can they?? The boy said nothing. Enemy! Enemy! he thought; for a moment he could not even see, could not see that the Justice?s face was kindly nor discern that his voice was troubled when he spoke to the man named Harris??? Here Faulkner uses the speech as an introduction to Sarty?s perception of the situation. In this situation, Hemingway would have written the entire conversation with the judge therefore providing the reader with identifying character traits, evident in the speech. However, Faulkner chooses to use less dialog and explain the exchanges in the following sentences or paragraphs.
Through this analysis of these two short stories, we can see that through dialog the style of writing of Hemingway and Faulkner in ?A Clean, Well-Lighted Place? and ?Barn Burning? is very different. Hemingway uses his dialog as a focal point in his story with the description as somewhat of an accompaniment to create a certain style. Faulkner uses the dialog as a point where he can divulge into a character by using very descriptive passages about the character?s thoughts and actions.