In Cold Blood Beloved Essay, Research Paper
These days when a reader settles in to read a book, it is hard to know what to expect. In the past, there may have been a more rigid idea about what makes a novel or a story, now, there are many ways in which a modern writer can choose to portray a happening or a feeling. This development in fiction writing creates an exciting concept. It turns reading into a wonderfully intriguing activity where nothing can be completely assumed. As a result of this, there is an air of mystery to reading contemporary fiction. Add to this elusive mix, a book which is presented as ?a mystery?, or, a novel which has a plot that has large elements of confusion or mystery. Now, for a reader, not only is reading and following the narrative an experience of exploration and detection, but, the plot of the narrative is a story of unanswered questions. In Cold Blood , a mystery and a work of modern fiction is a novel through which this combination of elements can be explored and Beloved, by Toni Morrison, is a nearly extreme example of this concept of modern, mysterious, narrative. Both of these works, can act as a lens through which to view contemporary, mysterious fiction. Not only do the basic stories being relayed have loop holes and unanswered questions, but the context and presentation of the narratives are also thought provoking and questionable.
In America, mysteries and scandals are forms which our society has become accustomed to. We are familiar with ?good guys? and ?bad guys?, with police stations and villains being read their rights, even with violence. We expect certain ingredients in a conflict and we expect certain outcomes. While reading In Cold Blood, these expectations are played with. The crime is senseless, the victims were near perfect, the killers are random and the detectives are stumped. Nothing seems to link together right and when they finally come together it is so by chance that it is nearly unbelievable and almost disappointing. The closure of the plot does not have a dramatic bang, the Clutters were not murdered by some secret lover of Herb?s or by a crazed and deranged relative. The execution of the villains is so drawn out that is begins to seem like another story, not the climactic end of a senseless murder. All of these aspects of the novel confuse a reader who is used to a Modern American- friendly story. They are the ways in which the plot alone is surprising and mysterious.
On a larger scale, as a work presented as a ?true account?, In Cold Blood raises very interesting and baffling issues. What is true, what is fictionalized? How do we as readers approach what we are being told, when we are unsure about what it is?
? Good Grief, Kenyon! I hear you.?
As usual, the devil was in Kenyon. His shouts kept coming up the stairs: ?Nancy! Telephone!? Barefoot, pajama clad, Nancy scampered down the stairs. There were two telephones in the house-one in the room her father used as an office, another in the kitchen. She picked up the kitchen extension: ?Hello? Oh yes, goodmorning, Mrs. katz? (pg 17, Capote)
In another work, a reader could easily read and digest this passage. But, due to the delicate category of In Cold Blood, it is not so simple. These people were real, their relationships did exist, but what are the chances that Capote reasearched this phone conversation? It is hard to critique a work of fiction for it?s content if it?s content may be truth, likewise, it is hard to examine the story and the crime if it?s facts maybe be fiction. To even touch on these thoughts can be overwhelming. This is the fashion in which the narrative; the telling as a whole, is a mystery on a wider level.
In Beloved, the characters seem to live in an exaggerated world at times, as well as in a world with extremely painful pasts and unexplained presents. From the very start, we know that the house that Sethe, Denver and Paul D. share is haunted. This is a classic aspect of mystery. As readers, our uncertainty about why the ghost is there, or why the baby was killed travels through the novel with us for a long time.
Counting on the stillness of her own soul, she had forgotten the other one: the soul of the baby girl. Who could?ve thought that a little old baby could harbor so much rage? … Not only did she have to live out her years in a house palsied by the baby;s fury at having it?s throat cut…
We read hints and bits of information about what may have happened and what the results have been, but we are kept mostly in the dark.
Then, as we read on, the character of Beloved is introduced, or simply appears without explanation. The events of the story continue like this, unforeseen and odd. The plot is convoluted and unclear at times, leaving room for the novel to be called a mystery.
As a narrative, Beloved is baffling on an even more basic level than that of In Cold Blood. While reading, there is often a simple question as to what is going on. This seems to be nearly the ultimate play on a reader.
…and there it was again. The welcoming cool of unchisled headstones, the one she selected to lean against on tiptoe, her knees wide open as any grave. Pink as fingernail it was, and sprinkled with glittering chips. Ten minutes, he said, you got ten minutes I?ll do it for free.
Not poorly written, not nonsense, but also not always clear and neatly presented. Sometimes it take more than one taime around to figure out what is going on. This engages the reader in the mystery of reading itself, of tracing how your brain has learned to process and comprehend.
After reading these two works together, nearly back to back, and then taking a stab at defining elements of American Contemporary Fiction on a whole, many things come to mind. Firstly and most interestingly to me, the idea of not only experiencing the plot, but also experiencing the form and way in which it is relayed. The chance to read on more than one level. To absorb and think about the story and then to turn the magnifying glass towards yourself and examine how you read, how you learn and how you think. Not only can wonderful stories be told this way, but a reader can find great insight into their own background and perceptions of the world around them. Contemporary American Fiction has taken the idea of the twist ending and uses it throughout the story and the reading process. There is always a ?what if?, always a ?so what?. Although it may have always been true, with this kind of fiction, it is easier to see that there is something to be gained from any reading experience. Be it plot related, structural or self reflective, a reader always has something to walk away with.