The Shining Houses Essay, Research Paper
A Shining Reason To Hope
There is a reason to hope in all literature. Hope can be defined as something which one longs to see realized, or in other words, any form of optimism, with a belief of a positive outcome. Hope in a piece of literature verifies a level of goodness in the world, which can be illustrated many different ways by an author.
“The Shining Houses” by Alice Munro is an auspicious example of hope in a short story.
Alice Munro effectively uses different techniques to present hope in “The Shining Houses.” Through her use of characterization, theme and symbolism, Munro competently illustrates hope, creating optimism with the use of these three short story components.
The first technique that aids in the creation of hope in “The Shining Houses” is symbolism in the title. The word “shining” alone has many optimistic elucidations, including magnificent, elegant, radiant, glowing, clean and polished. These words are all heartening, and create an optimistic mood from the beginning of the story. The optimistic mood created by the title carries throughout the story, encouraging the reader to identify other conditions of hope further on.
In addition to symbolism in the title, Alice Munro creates hope through characterization. The character who contains the prevailing amount of hope in “The Shining Houses” is Mary. Mary is the only character in the story that has a personal relationship with Mrs. Fullerton. Mary Would “sit on the back steps of Mrs. Fullerton’s house, talking – or really listening – to Mrs. Fullerton” (16). This detail creates a tone of hope for the reader. Because the reader soon finds out that the other members of the community consider Mrs. Fullerton an outcast, Mary is considered as an inspiration, because she ignores the community’s thoughts of Mrs. Fullerton, and continues to have a relationship with her.
Mary is also a sign of hope to Mrs. Fullerton, reassuring Mrs. Fullerton that not everyone in the community is against her. Latter on in the story, when the petition to get Mrs. Fullerton out of the community is presented at a child’s birthday party, Mary’s hope is once again present. Mary is the only person to voice concern for Mrs. Fullerton when the petition is presented. While the other members of the community were all discussing the pessimistic aspects of Mrs. Fullerton’s presence, Mary replied with the statements, “But remember she’s been here a long time,” and “she was here before most of us were born” (23). Latter on, when Mary is asked to sign the petition she replies that she can’t, accompanied with the statement, “I don’t think we have the right. We haven’t the right” (24). These statements all show how truly strong Mary is.
Mary is not only strong because she defended Mrs. Fullerton, but she also has great personal strength, because she defended her personal opinions. Mary’s strength also creates a positive mood, which reassures the reader that there are truly good people in the world. Mary herself is also a symbol of hope, allowing the reader to realize that as long as there is one genuine person in the world, there is reason to hope.
The third technique that Alice Munro uses to create hope in “The Shining Houses” is theme. The theme of “The Shining Houses” is that, even though there are many people in the world who are willing to harm others for their own benefit, there will always be someone who will withstand the opposition, and truly believe in the wellbeing of everyone. This theme is the basic foundation for hope. It gives everyone a reason to believe that whatever the situation, someone will always be there to help you.
Knowing that there will always be someone there for you makes one truly realize that there is goodness in the world. Hope gives anyone a reason to believe, and in a piece of literature, this reason to believe creates a warm, positive mood. Hope is one of the highest levels of optimism, and along with being present in every piece of literature, hope is also present in everyone’s life. Hope allows one to truly believe in the goodness of humankind, which results in true optimism, and a better quality of life for the true believers.