Richard Ford American Literature Analysis
Ford’s theory of fiction arises from what the poet Wallace Stevens called the “rage for order.” Ford sees life as essentially chaotic and the writing of fiction as the act of taking the often disordered material of experience and creating a new setting, atmosphere, and order for it. His discontent with the way life is, he states, leads him to attempt to find an alternative. Thus, he says, fiction has moral implications because it implies hope of a better future, a better existence. The moral element of his work involves his concern with the proper responses to certain situations, the good or evil of a character’s deeds, and a concern for how those deeds will shape a character’s future. His final test for good art concerns the idea of unification, a belief that somehow the novel or the story may restore order to an otherwise chaotic and destructive pattern of existence. Although he professes a distrust of ambiguity, the endings of his works, like those of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James, may lead two equally sensitive readers to two contrasting interpretations of the actions and responses of the characters.
While Ford has denied any religious implications or unified view of the world in his works, more than one critic has insisted that such elements are to be found there. Certainly, people in his novels and stories ponder more than most fictional characters the ethical significance of their acts and the acts of others. In contrast to those...
(The entire section is 4341 words.)
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