Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The story is in three parts, each with its own particular style corresponding to stages in John’s initiation into the truth of the human condition. In the opening paragraph, the naïve young revolutionary leaves the city where he has been “seeing the life of men and women only through a peephole.” His deprived and insulated perception accounts for the predominantly subjective and lyric style of the first part. He is inclined to grant an integrity and reality to what he sees and to his sensual impressions of nature; the “tiny beacons,” the lights of the city, “were winking and blinking beneath me to their starry counterparts above,” and “the heavy leaves of the chestnuts . . . scattered benediction on us.” The narrator’s romantic outlook blinds him to the irony of his own perception, for example, that Henn’s house assumed a passionate red color like the sky behind it, “a most marvellous red as of blood.” He thinks in either childhood images or ideological principles that allow him to categorize and contain the reality of Henn’s existential revolt against sensual impoverishment.

When the narrator arrives at Henn Hall, the dominant style becomes more social. The three characters, Gypsy, Henn, and Stevey, are introduced and their relationships are suggested. There are many scenes of dialogue, much less description than before, and the narrator becomes almost self-effacing as each character is allowed to assume his or her own...

(The entire section is 433 words.)